Magnolia Pictures is taking U.S. rights to Douglas Tirola’s Sundance and Tribeca entry Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story Of National Lampoon. The documentary chronicles the ups and downs of the humor magazine, which was an iconic benchmark during the 1970s and ’80s and an entertainment franchise brand ahead of its time spanning films (i.e. Animal House, Vacation), records, stage and radio shows.
No stone in the realm of religion, politics or entertainment went unturned whenever National Lampoon threw it on a slab. Not only did the magazine arrest society with its anarchistic humor, photos, and cartoons, but it touted a writing staff that included John Hughes, P.J. O’Rourke, Michael O’Donoghue (who would become the first head writer of Saturday Night Live) and Ted Mann (who ultimately owned the Mann Theater chain). Prior to the launch of SNL, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and Harold Ramis broke through on National Lampoon’s radio and stage shows. At one point the magazine was owned by Animal House star Tim Matheson, who along with his business partner Dan Grodnik tried to rescue the franchise from financial turmoil in 1989. They couldn’t pull it off and sold National Lampoon in 1991 to J2 Communications. Under their purview, National Lampoon published its final issue in November 1998.
In 2002, a new company took over the brand naming itself National Lampoon incorporated. Initially, they would license the brand name to comedy films such as Senior Trip, Dorm Daze and Barely Legal, but then the company took it upon itself in 2007 to acquire indie comedies for the National Lampoon Presents label.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead is produced by Tirola and partner Susan Bedusa of 4th Row Films and was financed and produced by History Films, in association with Sky. Tirola and Mark Monroe wrote the documentary and it was executive produced by Molly Thompson, Dirk Hoogstra, John Battsek and Celia Taylor.
Tirola is repped by WME. The deal for the docu, which does not include TV rights, was negotiated by Magnolia VP Acquisitions John Von Thaden with Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers.