The Passion of Andy Kaufman

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  1. Lefty Wilbury
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    http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,14108,00.html

    The Passion of Andy Kaufman

    by Jennifer Godwin
    May 14, 2004, 5:50 PM PT



    It's only May, and it's already been a big year for resurrection in American pop culture: First Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ, and now Andy KaufmanÂ…as himself? Having promised to return from the grave on the 20th anniversary of his death, Kaufman is due back on the mortal coil on Sunday--and at 7:30 that evening his friends are throwing him a welcome-back party in Hollywood.

    Bob Zmuda, screenwriter, comedian and Friend of Andy tells the LA Weekly that Kaufman first broached the idea of faking his own death back in 1980. "Andy said, 'You know if some celebrity really did this, do you know big it would be? How legendary it would be?' "

    Zmuda's charity organization Comic Relief rolls out the red carpet at the House of Blues for Andy Kaufman: Dead or Alive?, which can only be described as a happening--sort of an event, sort of an performance and almost certainly a conga-thumping hootenanny. But there's no help-the-homeless angle here--the $250 VIP tickets are strictly for those who simply must be there when Kaufman rolls back into town.

    Best known as Latka Gravas, the foreign man from no place in particular on TV's Taxi, Kaufman was one of the most eccentric comedic performance artists of the '70s and '80s. He impersonated Elvis and Mighty Mouse, created the character of venomous lounge singer Tony Clifton, wrestled women and took Carnegie Hall out for milk and cookies. Toward the end, while appearing to die from lung cancer at age 35, he mused aloud about the best gag of all--staging his own death and reappearing 20 years after the fact.

    Zmuda, Lynne Marguiles (Andy's girlfriend) and George Shapiro (Andy's manager) are taking Kaufman at his word and throwing him a homecoming party. Should Kaufman choose to once again grace the Sunset Strip with his presence he'll be greeted by his friends and compatriots, his old band--Tony Clifton and the Cliftones and His Steamy Cliftonettes--and famous funny people galore, including Rodney Dangerfield, Caroline Rhea, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Dick, Paul Rudd and wrestling mogul Jerry Lawler.

    "We're taking out hundreds of personal ads in newspapers across the country and abroad, reminding Andy of the date, and what he said," Zmuda tells the LA Weekly. "So, hopefully he'll see one of them."

    Plans for the shindig include roasting Kaufman until he emerges from seclusion to defend his comedic honor (or not), a performance by the Cliftones and the world premiere of a never-before-seen Kaufman film, which is presumably not 1999's Milos Forman-directed Man on the Moon, which starred Jim Carrey as Kaufman, Paul Giamatti as Zmuda, Courtney Love as Marguiles and Danny DeVito as Shapiro.

    There was no word as of press time about what miracles Kaufman might perform upon his return, or if he would be joined by post-life pals Elvis Presley and John Belushi

    A limited number of tickets are available through the House of Blues Website (www.hob.com) and Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com); general seating is available for $99.95, standing room can be had for $50 a pop.

    And, as R.E.M. once sang about a certain man on the moon, "See you in heaven if you make the list."
     
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    Party Planned for Kaufman, Just in Case

    Sat May 8, 10:24 AM


    NEW YORK - Andy Kaufman died of lung cancer on May 16, 1984, but according to legend, the eccentric comedian said if he were faking, he'd resurface 20 years later to the day.

    So, just in case, a party is being planned by Bob Zmuda, Kaufman's best friend and partner, at the House of Blues in Los Angeles on May 16.

    "Over 100 personal ads will be taken out across the country and abroad, reminding him of his words. Will he show?" Zmuda asked on the Web site for Comic Relief, a series of shows that raise money for health care for the homeless. Zmuda founded Comic Relief after Kaufman's death.

    VIP tickets to the Andy Kaufman _ Dead or Alive? tribute offer "select seating and celebrity reception (hopefully with Andy)."

    The tribute also promises a performance by Las Vegas lounge lizard Tony Clifton, one of Kaufman's characters.

    Kaufman was best known as the lovable foreign-car mechanic Latka Gravas on the '70s TV sitcom "Taxi."
     

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