Hollywood Outlaw is the true tale of the life-altering journey of New York City comic Maija DiGiorgio. The film is a comedic documentary that tells the story of Di Giorgio as a mixed race female comic and her rapid rise to become a mainstay in the New York comedy world, mentored by people like Dave Chappelle, Russell Simmons and others with appearances on Showtime at the Apollo, Def Comedy Jam, co-host of a morning show on the number one station in the country, Hot 97, Sex & the City, TV pilots and featured at HBO’s Aspen Comedy Festival.
In spite of this apparent direct path to success, Di Giorgio soon discovers that she does not fit the mold that Hollywood wants to place her in and she finds herself at a creative and personal cross road of being true to herself or being pigeon holed by an industry that tries to tell her who she is and who she should be. A major Hollywood executive tells her "I get you- you’re a young kid raised in the ghetto, you have a fire in your belly from all the hard times you have seen", when in fact Maija went to boarding school in Greenwich Connecticut. The only ghetto Maija had ever seen was watching repeats of "GoodTimes". Maija chooses to walk away from it all and start over.
In a desperate attempt to salvage both career and sanity, Maija sets out to show the world just how twisted and masochistic her world of standup comedy really is. Maija who asks her soon to be boyfriend, Kenny Simmons who is determined to help Maija but also see himself back in a producer position, and he immediately begins to line up huge star talent and takes claim to the credits of producer, by his none stop attack on getting talent.
Setting off this couple's tailspin journey, is a confrontation with Jerry Seinfeld on location of the star’s own project. This escapade results in a New York Post front-page headline and death threats forcing the camera toting couple to leave the city. Forging ahead with a dysfunctional crew, they crisscross the country, Maija in search of some answers and Kenny in search of fame and fortune. They convince a surprising birth of industry legends to sit down for the most revealing and awkward interviews of their careers. Maija and Kenny manage to record an eclectic borage of insightful, and yet sometimes absurd and irrelevant opinions. George Carlin, Chevy Chase, Phyllis Diller, Kevin James, Lewis Black, Rita Rudner, Ray Romano, Paul Mooney, and Richard Pryor are among a long list of celebrity comics harassed into being a part of this project.
- When Kenny’s obsession with fame takes over Maija’s film and personal quest, she is forced to fight back or risk losing everything.
Maija DiGiorgio’s is a familiar story of the tumultuous search for true identity. She shows us the emotional pain from which humor is born and the powerful role it plays in uplifting us and keeping us sane. In the wake of life’s greatest tragedies, the human spirit is transformed, and Maija has recorded the raw reality of its course.
Featuring: George Carlin, Lewis Black, Bill Maher, Chevy Chase, Maija DiGiorgio, Brett Ratner, Godfrey, Ardie Fuqua, Jim Norton, Bobby Kelly, Keith Robinson, Tony Rock, Rachel Feinstein, Sherrod Small, Rich Vos, Eddie Ifft, Judah Friedlander, Lisa Lampanelli, Ken Simmons, Jerry Stiller, Jody Del Giorno, Heather McConnell, Tony Martinelli, Susie Essman, Christopher Titus, Terry Jones, Dom Irrera, Norm Crosby, Joy Behar, Colin Quinn, Tony Roberts, Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, Richard Kind, Judy Tenuta, Gilbert Gottfried, Paul Mooney, Rita Rudner, George Schlatter, Lewis Black, Peter Boyle, Ray Romano, D. L. Hughley, Bill Maher, Kevin James, Paul Shaffer, Nicole Sullivan, Robert Klein, Phyllis Diller, Vincent Schiavelli. Written, Directed & Edited by Maija DiGiorgio Produced By Ken Simmons Co-Produced by Heather McConnell
After receiving rave reviews, including Variety, and screening at festivals all over the world, Bitter Jester was ready for distribution. However, there was one problem. The executive producers were suddenly demanding that the footage of Richard Pryor and his ex-wife be removed from the film. They threatened to shut down the distribution deal if the footage remained. Due to the nature of the footage, its relevance in the film, and the support from Pryor’s family, the director refused to remove the footage. The executive producers paid off the distribution company, stopped the deal, and then held onto their piece of the film to ensure it could never be seen. Six months after Richard Pryor died, the producers relinquished their piece and the making of Hollywood Outlaw began.
Bitter Jester was well received at festivals and in publications all over the world. It screened at Cinequest Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, US Comedy Arts Festival, London Comedy Festival, Boston International Film Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Evil City Film Festival, Denver Film Festival.
"Making a movie without really knowing what it’s going to be about is not generally advisable, but Maija DiGiorgio’s Bitter Jester makes that process quite entertaining … Jester is often hilarious and always diverting ...Whole package is a resourceful font of ideas, with no end of visual/editorial gambits (including split screen images) and witty soundtracked music choices. DiGiorgio may fret that ‘Maybe comedy isn’t the thing I should be pursuing.’ Regardless, she definitely has a future as a filmmaker." -Dennis Harvey, Variety
"Bitter Jester is much funnier and insightful than Comedian which got a theatrical release last year...If you like to laugh, Bitter Jester is the film for you." -Steve Rhodes, Online Film Critics Society
3 out of 4 tomatoes up -Rotten Tomatoes
"Intense, disturbing, voyeuristic Bitter Jester is the documentary about standup that's not afraid to jump right into the muck." - metro- Active
"Stroke of genius" -Andrew B., That Cow Moovies
"This is an amazingly honest film." -Jeff Gurian, 15 Minutes Magazine
"With such a cast of characters, it's little surprise that the film soon swiftly veers away from any idea of being a 'how-to' guide to comedy. In doing so, of course, it also widens its appeal to those who aren't comedy anoraks and into the realms of that perennial favorite, the 'pain behind the laughter' story ... The film couldn't fail to be a laugh with a credit list that reads like a Who's Who of comedians - and Barry Manilow. It's funny when the participants try to be - but even funnier when they don't ... the irony is that a film about Maija’s failure is likely to make her a bigger success than her stand-up ever could." -Steve Bennett, Chortle (UK)
"Yet there's still something egotistical about this film (Seinfeld’s Comedian) that ranks it below Maija DiGiorgio's Bitter Jester for human interest. Certainly, we never get Seinfeld's version of an incident with DiGiorgio that saw him attacked by her boyfriend as the two documentaries attempted to film in the same club. " -Jay Richardson, Future Movies UK
"An honest and frightening confirmation of more than I ever wanted to know on the subject of fame and performance, Bitter Jester lends something like an amazing perspective on how complicated a person can be--and, oddly enough, how transforming September Eleventh was on a collective and personal level." -Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central
"Compelling and inspiring." -the Denver Advocate