Interviews

Published on July 2nd, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Greg “The Hammer” Valentine” & “350 Days” Producer Evan Ginzburg On July 12th & More

Tens of millions of people watch professional wrestling on television each week, yet many of those viewers do not think much about the people portraying those characters on-screen. 350 Days addresses that in interviewing dozens of prominent wrestlers and giving a behind the scenes look at these performers. Naturally, some of these wrestlers wound up with happier endings than others, and not all of the people profiled came away like Randy “The Ram” Robinson did in the film The Wrestler.

As a special event presented by Fathom Events, 350 Days will be showing for 1 night only in theaters, as being presented on July 12th. To learn more about this, I spoke with producer Evan Ginzburg — who also worked on the aforementioned film The Wrestler with Darren Aronofsky — and WWE Hall Of Famer Greg “The Valentine, who was interviewed for 350 Days. More info on the documentary can be found online at www.fathomevents.com/events/350-days-legends-champions-survivors.

The movie is showing one night only in theaters, but it was mentioned earlier that there are a lot of interviews that were on the cutting room floor. Do you think we might see a DVD or home video release that has a lot of that unreleased footage?

Evan Ginzburg: The director Fulvio Cecere is already indicating that he would like to do a director’s cut down the road. He’s mentioned this several times. At bare minimum, there will be an expanded director’s cut. We have 80 hours of footage, people have to understand that a movie is made in the cutting room, the editing room. You’re taking 80 hours of footage and you’re cutting it to under 2 hours. Just mathematically you can’t have 70-plus wrestlers represented… It remains to be seen.

Besides this film, are there any upcoming projects that you guys would like to plug or can talk about?

Greg Valentine: This is the main thing right now. I’ve always got a lot going on, I do a lot of autograph sessions and stuff like that. I’m up in Canada this week, a great Comic-Con in Niagara Falls this weekend. I meet and greet the fans… I love the trailer [of 350 Days], it’s great. There’s, like we said, guys that passed like Don Fargo and George Steele and Jimmy Snuka and Ox Baker, big names. But then we’ve got guys like Marty Jannetty and Tito Santana, Wendi Richter, Bret Hart, J.J. Dillon, a lot of great guys.

Evan Ginzburg: Stan Hansen and Abdullah The Butcher for the Japanese fans.

Greg Valentine: Yeah.

Evan Ginzburg: Let me explain what exactly is going to happen on July 12th. It’s not just a movie screening. When you walk into that movie theater — there’s going to be 450 or so movie theaters nationwide — there’s going to be trivia on the screen, then J.J. Dillon is going to introduce himself and the movie, then you get the movie that is almost 2 hours, then after the movie I’m on screen interviewing J.J. Dillon.

By sheer coincidence, I interviewed him 3 or 4 days after Bruno [Sammartino] passed. Bruno was his close friend, so even that’s very emotional. He’s talking about Bruno and [Rowdy Roddy] Piper and guys he lost along the way. He is also comparing the wrestling of then and now, because we don’t want this to be exclusively for the old-school fans. He’s now 75 years old, J.J., and is surprisingly positive about the current wrestling. He said that guys like Daniel Bryan are doing moves that guys in the 1960s and 1970s, some of them could never have dreamed of doing. So there’s pluses today, except a lot of it is presented in a cartoonish way on TV. But the moves and some of the performers, A.J. Styles for example, they are tremendous talents. It’s not a matter of, “Oh, it was better then.” J.J. is talking very openly and honestly in comparing the two. I think fans will be interested in that as well.

Greg Valentine: I’d like to add to that as well. In every generation, it seems like the athletes get better and better and better, because of supplements and food or they know how to eat better or something. From our era, it was more ground-pound and grabbing holds, which they still do, but they do a lot more flying. If I did all that flying, I’d be in a wheelchair. (laughs)

So in closing, any last words for the kids?

Greg Valentine: Well, the kids, I think they should see it because we were the founders of all this. I was in Wrestlemania 1 through 7, so a lot of those guys like [Ted] DiBiase and Tito Santana are part of this movement and now they’re up to Wrestlemania 40 or something. We actually started it so it’s good for the kids to see where the roots came from in wrestling and Wrestlemania.

Evan Ginzburg: I have a message for the kids. The kids are very tech-savvy. This is not a billion-dollar corporation putting out this film. (laughs) This is from the heart and we encourage the kids to share the YouTube video and the Facebook page and the Twitter feeds and really help to get the word out. This is the wrestling their fathers and grandfathers and uncles loved. We have rare wrestling footage in here, we have rare photographs, some of it’s never been seen before. The participants really pour their guts out, they are really open and honest. This is not a shoot interview in a dingy hotel room, “Who was the booker in 1972?” These are guys talking about what this did to them and their families and their relationships with their kids. It’s quite special, it’s really something heartfelt.

I always said with The Wrestler, I never thought I’d attach my name to another wrestling film, because it’s very hard to top The Wrestler. It was Academy Award-nominated. Mickey’s performance is iconic. When I talked to Darren [Antola] and David Wilkins and the executive producers, I saw their heart was in the right place. They did a great film that really told a story. We’re very proud of this, and like any film, we want it to find its audience. If I have one message for the kids, it’s “Come on out and see it. Use your tech skills to help us spread the word.” We don’t have a Vince McMahon budget behind this. We’re going on shows and websites like yours, real grassroots appeal to people to support art.

Greg Valentine: I think that makes it better. And how long’s this project been going on?

Evan Ginzburg: 5 years. People don’t realize that The Wrestler, from start to finish, was 7 years… When you create art instead of product, it takes time and love and passion. We’re grateful to Greg and a lot of the other wrestlers for getting behind it.

Greg Valentine: I love this film.


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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of the bi-weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with V13 (formerly PureGrainAudio.com). He has also co-authored two published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), with a second podcast set for a June 2020 launch.


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