A couple of weeks ago, Cookie "Chainsaw" Randolph released The Trouble with Money, a 40-minute-long DVD movie he wrote and directed. "We started making it in January," says Randolph, who is best known as a personality on the Dave, Shelly, and Chainsaw morning show on KGB/101.5 FM. G. Gordon Liddy, Jerry Sanders, Bob Costas, and Bill and Luke Walton appear in the comedy/chase film that was shot at Balboa Park, Petco Park, and other local spots. The plot consists of Dave Rickards taking possession of a million dollars and then getting chased around town.
The film crew included a paid cameraman "and me holding a boom mike," says Randolph. "We're not doing Citizen Kane here."
This is Randolph's second feature; his first, 2004's J-K Conspiracy, sold more than 17,000 copies and netted more than $200,000. Throughout 2005, that money was given away to "San Diegans in need" who told their hard-luck stories on the radio show; over 160 listeners were given at least $1000.
How did the show know the stories were real?
"There may have been one or two that snuck through, but I have never suspected one," says Randolph. "We usually hear about [the recipients] from a third party. No one has ever ratted out one of our winners for being a ruse."
The charity that arose from Randolph's first film didn't help when he asked for permission to use hit songs in his latest film. He says his L.A.-based song-clearance specialist was not successful in getting the rights to use Steve Miller's "Take the Money and Run," Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," or U2's "Angel of Harlem."
"It doesn't matter if it's a fundraiser or not," says Randolph, who was granted no discounts for his good intentions. "We did get 'If I Had a Million Dollars,' by Barenaked Ladies." Randolph says he paid about $7000 for that song and the rights to perform cover versions of "Pennies from Heaven" and "Big Spender."
Entertainment lawyer David Branfman says the artists are not usually involved in licensing decisions.
"I would say 99 times out of 100, the artists never even hear about their [song-use requests]." He says a song-clearance fee could range from $25,000 to $200,000, depending on its prominence in the movie and the movie's budget. "You pay more if it's in the opening or closing segment or if it's during a particular dramatic or comedic moment in the film."
Cathy Anderson of the San Diego Film Commission says she wanted to use "Ghostbusters" for a public service video for San Diego Crimestoppers. "They wanted $50,000 for a one-time use. We passed. This was for a three-minute film.... I think the reason people steal songs [on the Internet] is because [music companies] don't make it reasonable to buy them."
The DVD (www.thetroublewithmoney.com) is sold with a "Best of Dave, Shelly, and Chainsaw" audio CD for $15.99 and is available at Hollywood Video stores.