» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

January 22, 2010
"Think about it. Sleep is dangerous. If sleep could have been circumvented in some way, natural selection probably would have found a way to do it." That's how Steven Lima, an expert in sleep deprivation at Indiana State University, boiled down the science and psychology of sleep for WNYC's Radiolab program. Of course sleep is something that can't be avoided, as integral to existence as breathing.

Australia's population is forecast to pass the 35 million mark by 2049; that many people in the United States alone suffer from chronic insomnia. In 2008 the video rental house Netflix decided to slap them all in the face with a Movie Watching World Championship, "a showcase for die-hard movie buffs who possess incredible focus and discipline." Essentially it would be self-inflicted sleep deprivation, for the glory of an entry in the hallowed Guinness Book of World Records. The category: Continuous Movie Watching.

Competitors, who were vying for a trophy, a $10,000 purse, and lifetime subscription to Netflix, would consist of an international cast of invitees: The Indian who had set the then-standing record; the German woman who had held it previously; a Sri Lankan from Canada with dozens of bizarre endurance records under his belt; a woman from Portland who set the 2003 record for movie watching; a Texan man who appeared on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" the year before; a competitive eating champion from New York.

There would be rules: "Medical professionals will monitor the contestants' conditions throughout the event and assess if contestants are truly 'watching' or are simply staring blankly at the screen," assured Netflix. Basically, you couldn't look away, for five days straight, and you couldn't just smoke a bowl and veg out for a week. Mothers everywhere would be horrified at the thought of the "brain rotting" potential of so many hours in front of the tube.

Plans for the event came about during the brief time when Netflix was flirting with film distribution and production, so the company contracted Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice magazine and curator of Street Carnage, and director Jason Goldwatch from the media development company Decon to host and film the production. The angle was essentially to create a documentary, something halfway between Super Size Me and Talk Soup's heyday with Greg Kinnear; not only would McInnes conduct interviews and provide color commentary, he'd do it on the same schedule as the contestants. Which meant no sleep for five days.

For what could potentially be a yawn-inducing Netflix infomercial, McInnes, who appears interesting and entertaining even when exhausted and delirious (there are a number of clips scattered about the web), seems to pull it off with little grace but plenty of fanfare. He has that look--with the inked skin, tousled coif and throwback moustache that say I might wrestle a tiger to the ground in the next thirty seconds that makes you want to keep your eye on him--and a certain degree of charm that was just right for Netflix's project. I think industry types might call it presence, or maybe gravitas.

What time is it? "I was going to say it's a million in the morning."

While McInnes did don a tuxedo for the undertaking, a major rub came when A Million In the Morning turned out to be his and Goldwatch's project, not Netflix's. The company might have been thinking Regis Philbin, but what they got was Patton Oswalt's wit and Johnny Knoxville's demeanor. While the various outtakes and feature snippets floating around YouTube attest to his ability to keep a modicum of momentum at all times, the idea of wholesome documentary just didn't materialize. "We told the sponsor, Netflix, we'd do it on one condition: No notes," McInnes explained upon the DVD release of the film. "We were going to do it our way and they could only see it when the final product was done. That's it. That's how we roll." Sans corporate guidance, McInnes and Goldwatch put together a film that was more Spike TV than PBS.

Yes, McInnes does the master of ceremonies routine for Netflix, interviewing the contestants before, during and after the event, but as time wears on and being awake turns into being a zombie, the production is less about the Netflix/Guiness publicity stunt and more about McInnes. His warped sense of humor and comedic flow, pressed within the constraints of vanilla situations (eight people on a couch watching movies) but spiced up by the absurdity of not sleeping for nearly a week, took over and ran roughshod. The title of the film comes from McInnes's confusion when, reporting from a back room stockpile of port-a-potty materials, he stares blankly at the display of his analog watch; his brain fried from lack of sleep, McInnes gives the bleary-eyed response that "I was going to say it's a million in the morning."

At another point, when Richard Simmons shows up to invigorate the contestants with a round of jazzercise, McInnes, complete with black and white face paint, plays it as if he's meeting Gene Simmons. Later, he's all over the place, talking about nothing and everything in particular. He plans to form a "two-syllable gang" with the Decon production crew. He muses on the merits of drinking for each of the sexes ("Obviously you don't want to be so shit-faced that you can't run from a sabertooth tiger, but the instinct to fuck yourself up once in a while is a crucial part of being a man"). He has plenty of delirious asides and hilarious anecdotes in the middle of Times Square.

"Day 4.3. I have drastically underestimated the kind of internal strength it requires to stay awake this long," McInnes reports as the competition enters the home stretch. "I would classify this mission as 'fail' because I no longer have the will to be a participant. The game had taken over my body and I was now a spectator, watching myself from afar."

Netflix, it turns out, wasn't to thrilled with the angle McInnes and Goldwatch took, though one wonders what they were expecting when they hired the author of The Vice Guide to Eating Pussy and The Vice Guide to Anal Sex for their documentary. The company balked at releasing the footage, but McInnes and Goldwatch decided that what Netflix deemed "terrible" was too far along, so they set about distributing it themselves, pitching it as "a documentary about a Movie Watching World Championship wherein Richard Simmons was abused, a guy hallucinated a beagle crawling up a plant, a bunny head was used as a weapon 78 times, and the guys who made it got fired." False advertisers they are not.

TRAILER: www.youtube.com/user/deconmedia#p/u/5/bndEd5lPo6I

SEE ALSO: www.amillioninthemorning.com
SEE ALSO: www.netflix.com
SEE ALSO: www.guinnessworldrecords.com

Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other articles by Eric J Herboth.



If you'd like to help spread the word about LAS, or simply want to outfit yourself with some adhesive coolness, our 4" circle LAS stickers are sure to hit the spot, and here is how to get them:

--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.


LAS has staff and freelance writers spread across North and South America, Europe, and a few in Southeast Asia as well. As such, we have no central mailing adress for unsolicited promotional material. If you are interested in having your project considered for coverage, please contact us before sending any promotional materials - save yourself time and postage!