In the battle for prime time supremacy, one network has revived, repackaged and rehashed an old conspiracy theory in hopes that it will rocket them to the top of the Nielsens.
The Pox Television Network's Woodstock: Fact? Fiction? Or Conspiracy? collects all the legends, gossip and rumors concerning the 1969 music festival and puts them all together in one easy-to-follow hour of TV programming. Already a hot topic in Internet chat rooms and news groups, the program's thesis claims, that in order to divert the American public's collective consciousness from an unpopular war, then-President Richard Nixon ordered NASA and Hollywood to work together to create a fictitious three-day rock concert in upstate New York.
"We're not saying the festival didn't happen," says the show's producer, Larsen E. Whipsnade. "However, when you consider the strange camera angles of the film, plus the list of performers that have suffered mysterious deaths, as well as the rise of Wavy Gravy, we think this is an issue that bears looking into."
To be sure, many of Woodstock's alleged performers are still among the living, including Peter Townshend, Arlo Guthrie and John Sebastian. However, one of the more controversial moments of the program is the contention that the performance by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young never took place.
"We examined the original footage," says Whipsnade, "You can clearly see where someone spliced a film of Crosby, Stills & Nash playing at The Whisky with that of a Toronto roadhouse performance by Neil Young. Believe me, that in itself raises a lot of questions."
For the record, Whipsnade is no stranger to TV controversy. In 1994 he produced Alien Promoter Autopsy, the 1994 program that claimed that interstellar promoters crash-landed just outside of Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. It was that program's contention that the crash, along with captured alien technology, ultimately led to the massive consolidation of the concert industry in the latter years of the 20th century, which in turn, gave birth to some of this year's hottest tours, including Area: One, Backstreet Boys and Madonna.
Did the most famous of all rock concerts really take place as history remembers it? Or were the legendary three days of peace, love and music manufactured on a Burbank soundstage? And if it was a conspiracy, then what are we to make of this year's tours, including Clay Walker and Seagram's Hip Hop Tour featuring Mystikal, Jaheim, Jagged Edge, Public Announcement and Ginuwine?
"We don't have all the answers," says Whipsnade, 'but we'd be derelict of our duty if we didn't make some of them up." The producer is also quick to dismiss allegations of "tabloid journalism" that have been levied at him by people claiming to have been at the festival 32 years ago. "Besides," says Whipsnade as he holds court at his usual table at Spago, talking future TV deals with Everclear and Glenn Tilbrook, "considering the reports of massive, illegal substance consumption at the supposed event, anyone who actually claims to remember Woodstock, probably wasn't there at all."