“TV Party,” the television show hosted by Interview and High-Times writer Glenn O’Brien, was a stoned-out takeoff on Hugh Hefner’s “Playboy After Dark,” a deliberately addled and anarchic program that deconstructed talkshows pre-Letterman. Just as public access and punk rock came together on the ’70s cult cable show, promotion and nostalgia come together in the documentary “TV Party.” It has a certain insider attraction, but the film essentially serves as a trailer for the DVD release of the recently resurrected and collected shows.
In between the interviews — chiefly with O’Brien and his regulars, Chris Stein and Deborah Harry of Blondie, Walter Steding (the Doc Severinsen of the show), director Amos Poe and Fab Five Freddy of “MTV Raps” — docu features outtakes from the show. Which go on too long. You had to be there, Except you are. And it doesn’t help.
There are some hilarious moments — the viewer calls to the program are monumentally vulgar, insulting and taken by the gleefully pot-smoking cast with a grain of salt. There are also moments of profound cultural curiosity — painter Jean-Michel Basquiat was a regular and at one point the late artist seems to have lost his already loose grip on reality.
The interviewees are still hip, still charming — Harry has a wonderfully ironic take on the whole experience of “TV Party” as do model Lisa Rosen and photographer Kate Simon. The boys seem to take things more seriously. “The TV show that’s a party — but could be a political party,” is how O’Brien used to introduce the program, and he still maintains that the program had a significance that others may question. It’s certainly unlikely that something like “TV Party” would happen now. Perhaps, in that, O’Brien has a point.