A routine question-and-answer session about the making of The Seventh Python turned into a newsmaking and emotional highlight of The NY Metro Fest for Beatles Fans this afternoon, when producer Brett Hudson broke from the script to deliver a broadside against the American medical establishment and a call to arms in the fight against cancer.
The Seventies pop star-turned-Hollywood writer and producer, who's been performing at the Fest with his brother Mark Hudson, has received international attention and kudos since it was revealed early last year that he was battling throat cancer and had succeeded against great odds thanks to state-of-the-art treatment not widely available in the United States. His advocacy of other cancer patients and the crucial importance of individual determination of treatment and a positive attitude, displayed on a widely-circulated blog, has attracted a worldwide following and given Hudson a new mission that he pushed to the forefont today.
Hudson had earlier introduced The Seventh Python with director Burt Kearns and star Neil Innes at a well-attended afternoon screening, and had rushed from an autograph session to join Kearns was onstage at the Crystal Ballroom to discuss the making of the film.
The discussion had led to future Frozen Pictures projects, including a Hudson Brothers reunion and a film about Sixties rocker Chris Montez, when Hudson stopped the session to bring up the project that has been foremost on the Frozen Pictures agenda.
"On August 27, 2007, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer. My doctors told me to get my affairs in order and that I wouldn't survive six months. I proved them wrong.
"I was headed toward a morbid operation to remove my larynx when my dear friend Cher, whom I've known for 35 years, led me to a doctor in Germany, and today I don't have cancer.
"Bottom line: You go to Germany, they'll cure your cancer. You stay in America, they'll cure you if you survive the treatment."
The crowd, there to hear the dishy show business behind the scenes stories and scandals, wastransfixed as Hudson, wrapped in a scarf that many assumed was worn in homage to the skiing sequence in Help! but which he explained he wore to protect his radiation-scarred neck from sunlight, took them down a dark alley that each and every one could relate to. He explained that Frozen Pictures is already at work producing a nonfiction film called The Klinik, which uses his own experience as the jumping-off point for a larger-themed story about innovations and obstacles in cancer treatment.
"I don't care if you see the film or buy the DVD, but go to the website The Klinik Movie dot com, Klinik spelled 'k-l-in-i-k' and spread the word."
Hudson then detailed some of the most intimate details of his illness, spoke movingly about others who've sought him out for help and amazed the crowd as he told of the state-of-the art treatments that removed 14 tumours from Farrah Fawcett's liver-- not to mention his own throat cancer.
After revealing that his treatment has cost him more than $400,000-- despite insurance-- he broke the big news:
"I will take my fee for this film-- with the exception of the Writers Guild payment, because I need their insurance, which is great-- and I will use it to start a foundation. I'm not going to put my name on it, I don't need that. I'm going to use it to help people who can't afford to get treatment. The way it is now, if you've got the money you can live, if you don't have money, you don't have the choice. I want to pay for transportation to treatment centers, for medicine. I want people to have the same choices I have."