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Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" documentary, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitafirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twit

Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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We all know Joan Jett loves rock 'n' roll. But in recent years she's been getting intimately involved with celluloid.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee was an executive producer for 2010's "The Runaways," the feature film about her groundbreaking late 70s all-female rock band. Now she's the subject of "Bad Reputation," a frank documentary about her life from falling in love with rock in her native Baltimore, through the Runaways and into an equally barrier-smashing career as an artist, producer, record label co-owner and activist.

The film's soundtrack has also produced "Fresh Start," the first new song from Jett and her band the Blackhearts in five years, and she promises the story is not over yet.

After watching actress Kristen Stewart portray her in "The Runaways," Jett, 60, says by phone that "Bad Reputation" "is different because it's a documentary and hopefully it's what happened, the real-life happenings. It's definitely a surreal experience, and it's more comfortable for me to be able to talk about something like the Runaways or my band the Blackhearts when I'm not directly speaking about myself. When I have to talk about myself it's weird. I don't feel comfortable because I feel like I'm being narcissistic or something."

Directed by Kevin Kerslake, "Bad Reputation" is the brainchild of Blackheart Records' chief Carianne Brinkman, daughter of Jett's manager and daughter of her longtime manager and collaborator Kenny Laguna. "I met Carianne when she was about three months old, and her whole life was immersed in this rock 'n' roll world. So she had a very interesting upbringing that was different from a lot of the kids she grew up with, and kind of unbeknownst to me and Kenny she had always wanted to tell that story to people and what a strange existence she had. I guess initially she was hoping to try to do some kind of sitcom or something like that; That didn't pan out and she was looking for a way to tell the story and eventually landed on doing a documentary about me. She's been doing this for five years or so and eventually put this into a cohesive story so that people could understand how I started right up to now."

Jett (nee Larkin) hopes that the fan takeaway from "Bad Reputation" is "believe in yourself and fight for your dreams. People are always discouraged, I think, from doing what they really dream about. Whatever you dream in life take a shot, and if you don't make it then at least you tried and you won't spend your life going, 'I really wonder if I could've made it happen?' or spend your life being depressed because you didn't go for it. I just think it can't hurt to go for your dreams. And I think the root of that message is perseverance, dedication, hard work -- all of this things and being appreciative, behind humble, recognizing that you don't do this alone. Even if people go, 'Wow, you're great,' it's, 'Yeah, but it's me and a billion other people making this happen."

The most revealing part of the film for Jett "was discussing (romantic) relationships, and how I came to the realization that I don't have that. Rock 'n' roll and music is my significant other, which is in one way beautiful and in one way very said. But I've got to be OK with that, at least right now. I know what I'm getting with this, if that makes sense."

With the "Bad Reputation" soundtrack coming on Friday, Sept. 28, Jett promises that "there will be more new music. We'll be writing over the next few months and hopefully get something out in the new year." The "Fresh Start" single, meanwhile, was inspired by her own recent experience. "I got to a point in my life where you start to question things you do and wonder, 'Do I still want to do this? Ho so I still do this now, as an older person as opposed to a 21-year-old.' It just brought up a lot of questions about motivation and things like that, and I just had to look at it and answer that. I Love what I do, and I just sort of needed to find a new way to kick myself in the butt...and create that fire again. Everybody sometimes needs that kick in the butt in mid-life or even early in life."

"Bad Reputation" screens for one night only on Wednesday, Sept. 26, in theaters. Visit badreputationfilm.com for theaters and showtimes. Starting Friday, Sept. 28, the documentary will move to Video On Demand platforms, with streaming slated for 2019.

Web Site: www.badreputationfilm.com

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