THE LAST NIGHT AT WINTERLAND
by Jeff Nemorovsky
The Last Night of Winterland was the one and only NEMOVISION Production (not Videowest). I produced it a couple of weeks after my last project at KSAN which was the KSAN/KQED ANNIVERSARY ROCK SPECIAL...the first music video "block" on TV (and five years before MTV started).
I lined up KQED and KSAN and then raised all the production money with "grants" from, I believe, Pacific Stero and the Gap. The interesting point that no one remembers is that this almost didn't happen because KQED was firmly locked in to broadcasting EVENING AT POPS on New Year's Eve. It was then that I asked whether KQED still had channel 32? Yes they did!
And the result was the first (and only one I know of) trimulcast! Channel 32 and KSAN started at 9 or 10 with the Blues Brothers and Channel 9 joined 32 and KSAN...with a different picture...at Midnight!
I have fond memories of the night/production, but...until now...no moolah. You see Winterland was to have been the start of a "partnership" with Bill Graham for music TV shows. When it became clear the day before the show that we did not have a camera for an "iso" shot (one that you could always go to in editing if one or all the other cameras had bad shots), I went to Bill saying that we needed to come up with another $6000 to "do it right." Bill agreed to pay it, but I insisted that, since we were partners, I would put in $3K and Bill $3K.
original "blue rose" artwork © 1978 mouse/kelley
The partnership lasted until a week after the show when Bill said "You get the Dead to sign the releases...I can't!" I paid my $3K to KQED, but it was only in the last few weeks that I learned that Bill never paid KQED! God, I admired Bill...warts and all...and am proud that "for a few days" we "appeared" to be partners. Anyway, I received no salary for producing the show (I thought I would make it in the backend) and learned a valuable lesson that getting it in the backend usually involves bending over! No thanks.
To add insult to injury, I came up $3K in the minus because of the bucks to KQED...until now! I was smart enough in 83 to structure a deal whereby KQED and I would each get pieces of the "gross" should the footage ever be exploited. Never again have I had a gross deal (and I have been in home video at CBS for 15 years)!
The Dead couldn't have gotten this DVD out with KQED and I getting gross, but I am happy to say that we negotiated an equitable settlement. It has been a pleasure working with Cameron Sears of the Dead. He's been fair and steady.
I don't remember that either the Dead...or the production...were particularly good, but I am told that it is one of the only concerts by the Dead ever captured on film/video. If not just for the memories I hope you all get a chance to see it and enjoy it.