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'Glee' Meets 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show': Jack, DeVito and TV Cast to Pay Tribute at The Wiltern

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Lou Adler

Soon after a nine-month residency at The Roxy, the stage musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show debuted on the silver screen. With an ensemble cast of freaks, a transvestite protagonist and hedonistic sci-fi story line nobody could have predicted that 35 years after its premiere, Rocky Horror would still be in limited release -- the longest-running theatrical release in history. It quickly gained a cult following when midnight screenings became popular in the mid-to-late '70s. You can observe the madness for yourself at the Nuart on Santa Monica west of the 405 at midnight on any Saturday.

Lou Adler brought The Rocky Horror Picture Show to the American stage in 1974 where it thrived at Adler's Roxy Theatre. He also executive produced the film adaptation. Next Thursday, Adler is bringing a hybrid musical production of Rocky Horror to The Wiltern in tribute to the 35th anniversary of the movie's release, complete with a costume ball. The event is a fundraiser for The Painted Turtle, Adler's summer camp for children with chronic, life-threatening illnesses. He spoke with us last week from his Malibu offices.

LAist: How did the process of organizing a 35th anniversary stage show come about?

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Lou Adler: It's something I'd like to do every year on some scale, but it ends up happening about once every other year.

My wife Page [Hannah] and I founded The Painted Turtle, one of Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang camps for kids with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. This summer was our seventh year and because we have a budget of $4 million a year and nobody pays to go, we have to fundraise.

The bulk of it I try to do with events. In March we started talking about what we would do this year -- the idea of the 35th anniv of Rocky Horror Picture Show -- the movie -- and the idea of maybe tying into that and doing a tribute if enough celebrities felt like being involved. At that point we started asking people and always the anchor for me in any event I've ever done is Jack Nicholson, a close friend. And he said: "If you keep me sedated I'll do it."

Danny DeVito is also involved in a lot of our productions but I think we've ended up with a really good cast that is indicative of the way that The Rocky Horror Picture Show goes across so many different genres. The fact that we have Jack and Danny representing motion picture actors who are at the very top to television personalities - Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele from the very successful Glee, True Blood, represented by Evan Rachel Wood, and Lost, represented by Jorge Garcia. And Cheech is doing one of the comedy parts. Somebody from every different phase of entertainment is involved and that in itself is a tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show I think.

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LAist: If you could get anyone to play a role in the tribute, who would it be?

Adler: I've always envisioned Cher as [Dr.] Frankenfurter. But she's working in Las Vegas.

LAist: Where was Meatloaf?

Adler: Meatloaf is a big supporter of The Painted Turtle. I spent the weekend with him out at the camp. Whenever he does celebrity poker or Celebrity Apprentice he gives his earnings to The Painted Turtle. He's given us an enormous amount of money and if he was free for this, he'd be there without a doubt.

LAist: Tell us more about what makes The Painted Turtle special...

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Adler: Each segment of the camp lasts a week and each week, all the kids have similar illnesses. For example, one week is specifically for kids with Crohn's and colitis. It's an amazing thing to see. For once in their lives the kids feel normal -- everyone around them is the same.

LAist: Do you have any new productions in the works?

Adler: Working as a producer with Andrew Loog Oldham, who managed the Rolling Stones in the 60's and wrote the books Stoned and 2stoned. We've got a couple of projects being developed, one of which is in the script stage. And I just finished the animation on the upcoming Cheech and Chong.

LAist: We've been watching your son Nic do some great things with The Roxy and the local music scene in recent years.

Adler: Nic is up to some amazing things. He's traveling all over talking about how clubs can use social media. And he's very involved in the politics of West Hollywood -- just did the Sunset Strip Music Fest... he's doing great.

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LAist: Do we have a Mayor Adler in the making?

Adler: I would hope so. He deserves it. And Cisco has really got the ball rolling now too with his music. In fact he's next door recording right now.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute and Costume Ball is October 28 at The Wiltern. Tickets, $50 - $100, are available here. For VIP tickets and packages, including the post party Costume Ball, call 5B Events at 310.559.9334.