Shep Gordon is something of a legend on the music and movie scenes, but while he is well known to those in the know, not many actually know the story of the man behind the management. Mike Myers – yes, that Mike Myers – directs a documentary about a man who singlehandedly brought the world Alice Cooper, celebrity chefs and Teddy Pendergrass, and has proven himself, time and again, to be one of the good guys.
First things first, while this is a film made with loving care, it is not exactly unbiased; Gordon and director Mike Myers have been friends for years, and when he hit a low point in his life, Myers lived with Gordon in his Maui home for several months. That said though, we can argue all day about the biased or unbiased nature of documentaries, when we should just be enjoying Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon for the story that it tells.
Through the eyes of Gordon’s celebrity pals and clients – Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Alice Cooper, Anne Murray, Myers himself and many more – as well as the man himself, Gordon’s story is told. From humble beginnings as a man with a sociology degree who found himself being punched by Janis Joplin, Gordon made famous friends, and found a way to deal pot; by posing as a manager. Before long, fiction became reality – when the cops clamped down – and Shep found himself managing Alice Cooper, and finding a way to make the schlock rocker a household name.
The story told is a fascinating and funny one; Myers allows the people in Gordon’s life to speak for themselves, and what emerges is the story of a man with a big heart and the desire to protect the people that he cares for. That’s where the title of the film comes from; mensch is a Yiddish word that means ‘person of integrity’, and from paying hotel bills that he ran out on, to finding a way for people to be paid a fair wage for their work, Gordon has proven himself worthy of the title.
Of course, being a friend of Gordon, director Myers rarely touches on the darker side of this Hollywood good guy, but then perhaps there is no dark side to explore. Myers weaves together the stories of those who have worked with, crossed paths with and admire Gordon – and those that he admires, namely His Holiness the Dalai Lama – including members of the paparazzi who Gordon has formed a relationship with. There are hints at the notion that Gordon’s womanising ways may have got him into trouble at some point, but then surely this balances out when you take into consideration the fact that he took care of his ex-girlfriend’s daughter’s family?
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon proves that nice guys do not always finish last, and sometimes the word legend is not just hyperbole. Myers has crafted an elegant, funny and touching documentary about one of the big-hearted greats behind the scenes, that is uplifting, engaging, funny and touching. Is this the new Mike Myers? We can only hope.