UHF (1989)

UHF (1989)

Taglines: Don’t touch that dial!

George Newman (“Weird Al” Yankovic) is a Walter Mitty-esque daydreamer whose hyperactive imagination keeps him and his friend Bob (David Bowe) from holding a steady job. George’s uncle Harvey Bilchik (Stanley Brock) wins the deed to Channel 62, a UHF television station on the verge of bankruptcy, in a poker game.

His wife Esther (Sue Ane Langdon) talks him into giving control of Channel 62 to the out-of-work George. George and Bob meet the Channel 62 staff which is made up of the receptionist and wannabe reporter Pamela Finklestein (Fran Drescher), dwarf photojournalist and cameraman Noodles MacIntosh (Billy Barty), an unnamed overweight cameraman (Lou B. Washington), and eccentric engineer Philo (Anthony Geary).

George attempts to introduce himself to the rival VHF network station Channel 8, but its owner, the grumpy and mean-spirited R. J. Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy), angrily chases him out. On his way out of the station he encounters janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards), who had just been unfairly fired by Fletcher for supposedly pitching a very valuable research report, which had been in Fletcher’s desk chair all the time. George offers him a janitorial job at Channel 62.

Though George creates new original programming in an attempt to revive the station’s fortunes, ratings stay flat and Bob determines that Channel 62 is days away from insolvency after going through the station’s books. George and Bob stay late at the station brainstorming ways to keep it afloat, which causes George to accidentally stand up his girlfriend Teri (Victoria Jackson) on her birthday, causing her to break up with him.

The next day a despondent George walks out in the middle of filming the kid’s show “Uncle Nutzy’s Clubhouse” so he can go to the bar and drown his woes in drink. Stanley takes over as host and his bizarre antics are an instant hit with the audience; “Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse” becomes a massive ratings smash that saves the station from bankruptcy. Channel 62 finds success with a line up of bizarre original shows and Spadowski as its flagship star.

UHF (released internationally as The Vidiot from UHF) is a 1989 American comedy film starring “Weird Al” Yankovic, David Bowe, Fran Drescher, Victoria Jackson, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Richards, Gedde Watanabe, Billy Barty, Anthony Geary, Emo Philips and Trinidad Silva; the film is dedicated to Silva who died shortly after principal filming. The film was directed by Jay Levey, Yankovic’s manager, who also co-wrote the screenplay with him. It was released by Orion Pictures and is currently owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Yankovic stars as George Newman, a shiftless dreamer who stumbles into managing a low-budget television station and, surprisingly, finds success with his eclectic programming choices, in part spearheaded by the antics of a janitor-turned-children’s television host, Stanley (Richards). He provokes the ire of a major network station that dislikes the competitive upstart. The title refers to the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) analog television broadcasting band on which such low-budget television stations often were placed in the United States.

UHF Movie Poster (1989)

UHF (1989)

Directed by: Jay Levey
Starring: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Victoria Jackson, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Richards, David Bowe, Stanley Brock, Anthony Geary, Trinidad Silva, Gedde Watanabe, Fran Drescher
Screenplay by: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Jay Levey
Production Design by: Ward Preston
Cinematography by: David Lewis
Film Editing by: Dennis M. O’Connor
Costume Design by: Tom McKinley
Set Decoration by: Robert L. Zilliox
Music by: John Du Prez
Distributed by: Orion Pictures
Release Date: July 21, 1989