Original Air Date 11 August 2007: New York City, 1977 – It was a time when the city had fallen into decay, with too few jobs, money, police, schools, and social services. There was a city wide blackout with major looting, a serial killer on the loose, and the Bronx was burning. And yet out of the chaos emerged one of the most creative times any city has ever encountered.
Executive Produced by Academy Award Nominee Nanette Burstein (“The Kid Stays in the Picture”), “NY77: The Coolest Year In Hell” is a two-hour documentary that tells the story of one astonishing year in New York City history. Premiering Saturday, August 11 at 9PM*, the documentary is told chronologically and weaves together the stories of the emergence of hip hop, punk and disco, graffiti art, and sexual liberation. In the background are the major political events and social issues of the day — crime, urban decay, financial woes, the infamous blackout, drugs, Son of Sam, the bitter mayoral election and the overall poverty that gripped the city.
Out of chaos came creation. From the South Bronx came hip hop. From the Lower East Side, the thrashing guitars of punk. And all over the city, a disco revolution was underway. Elaborate, finely crafted graffiti art decorated the subway cars and break-dancers shimmied in the streets. The sexual revolution was in full swing. In January 1977, most of this activity existed in its own underground bubble. Yet by the end of the year this artistic expression was on its way to mainstream America, and would be with us for generations to come.
The documentary uses groundbreaking animation to help tell the story, and features interviews with those who lived it, including Ed Koch, Geraldo Rivera, Jimmy Breslin, Gloria Gaynor, Afrika Bambaataa, Chris Stein (Blondie), Richard Hell, KRS-One, Grandmaster Caz, DJ Disco Wiz, Legs McNeil, Annie Sprinkle, Al Goldstein, Tommy Ramone, Jellybean Benitez, Lee Quinones, and many more.
The Emmy Nominated “NY77: The Coolest Year In Hell” is the newest film in the VH1 Rock Doc franchise. VH1 Rock Docs are high-end feature-length documentaries that each reveal an untold story in the history of rock and hip-hop music, combining never-before-seen footage with a unique and unconventional narrative approach. The documentaries tell some of the most unique stories of artists and music from a wide range of genres, styles, and musical perspectives.
In an attempt to peak your interest of the entertainingly informative interviews, here are a few subjects this film pieces-together to portray The Big Apple as a city that was equally falling apart and changing the world forever:
- The infamous serial killer known as Son of Sam
- The two-day blackout (resulting in uncontrollable looting and violence)
- CGBG and punk bands like Blondie, Talking Heads and The Ramones
- The birth of Studio 54
- Paradise Garage and The Loft
- The innovation, hard-work and competitiveness behind DJing block parties
- Grandmaster Flash begins performing as a group
- Graffiti culture
- An intense political battle to take the reigns of a chaotic metropolis
Artwork on DVD only
Review: “NY77: The Coolest Year in Hell. Chances are, if you’re a fan of content such as rock, punk, hip hop, street art, politics or suburban crime, this film will surely not disappoint. It documents the year the New York underground reached the mainstream, the year the forgotten and downtrodden became the people of importance, the year New York showcased its renaissance.
Set during a period when the city was at one of its lowest ebbs financially, politically and socially, NY77 narrates how a a new cultural zeitgeist emerged from the ashes of a crumbling metropolis. Featuring interviews with luminaries and icons of their field, coupled with ground-breaking animation and never before seen footage of its time, this movie will leave you yearning to have been there, to have been a part of something special, wishing you could’ve been a New Yorker in the ’70s.”