Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

This is the story of how Shep Gordon met and eventually dated Sharon Stone: “I went to a party in Cannes with Mike Douglas, Mick Jagger and Roman Polanski, and the party was in the house Napoleon built for Josephine. It’s priceless.”

We’ll let slide that Shep knows Michael Douglas by a nickname, and that his trio of party guests would make the best and oddest #TrueDetectiveSeason2 assortment yet. I’m more impressed that he got to go to a party at a friggin’ castle owned and built by friggin’ Napoleon. And that’s just the setup to his story.

“Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon” tells the story of the life and career of the Hollywood manager and producer Shep Gordon, who has plenty more anecdotes like this in his back pocket. But what’s so amusing about it is not even the story but the humbled way in which Shep tells it.

Directed by Mike Myers, who met Shep on the set of “Wayne’s World” because Shep represents Alice Cooper, “Supermensch” pulls off the clever balancing act of putting Shep within waving distance in the line for nicest and most interesting person in the world without making him into too much of a saint. The word “Legend” from the title seems more appropriate.

Though Shep has no Wikipedia page, he owns a $15 million mansion in Maui and has managed everyone from Alice Cooper to Emeril Lagasse. He started his career as a manager with no business card and no company name but found himself in the company of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, soon leveraging that to make Alice Cooper into a superstar and one day cook breakfast for the Dalai Lama.

Myers simply allows Shep to tell his story from the beginning. “Supermensch” starts as something of a very-insider baseball shock documentary about how the industry works in terms of creating buzz and attention for a rock star. For one, Shep casually takes credit for the idea of putting panties around everyone of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” records and going on an obscene drug bender with Teddy Pendergrass.

It’s unbelievably rich stuff that could probably be broken down into its own documentary, but Myers edits such that the anecdotes come flying at a mile a minute. Shep glosses over years of lawsuits and controversy surrounding the distribution of Alice Cooper’s first album and immediately has another success story ready to go. In one minute he’s jumping out of motel windows and writing checks made to bounce as Cooper is trying to strike it big, and the next he’s shooting Cooper from a cannon in between performances by The Doors and John Lennon at a music fest.

Slowly but surely however you realize that Shep’s cavalier, do whatever attitude actually enables him to give everything to his clients and his friends and keep nothing for himself. He talks about “paying a coupon” by always returning the favor to another person and earning good karma, and Shep has earned mounds of good will hosting dinner parties that pair everyone from Tom Arnold to Clint Eastwood as guests.

While we find out a little about Shep’s personal life growing up and how he’s living for himself in his current retirement, all Myers is really going for is to show us how compassionate and fascinating this man you may never heard of can be. “Supermensch” moves from sensational to congenial to admiring in a brief, 85-minute flash, but then it doesn’t take long for Shep Gordon to work his magic.

3 ½ stars


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