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Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene

Overview

Petey Greene was a purposely outrageous talk show host, comedian and community activist who used his knowledge of life on the streets of Washington D.C.'s ghettos as a springboard for biting but often hilarious street-smart commentaries addressing the distance between the haves and have-nots in the nation's capitol. While Petey Greene's story was dramatized in the film Talk To Me (which starred Don Cheadle as Greene), Adjust Your Color: The Truth Of Petey Greene is a documentary produced for PBS's Independent ...
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Overview

Petey Greene was a purposely outrageous talk show host, comedian and community activist who used his knowledge of life on the streets of Washington D.C.'s ghettos as a springboard for biting but often hilarious street-smart commentaries addressing the distance between the haves and have-nots in the nation's capitol. While Petey Greene's story was dramatized in the film Talk To Me (which starred Don Cheadle as Greene), Adjust Your Color: The Truth Of Petey Greene is a documentary produced for PBS's Independent Lens series that offers a look at the man behind the legend and has now been made available on DVD. (Cheadle also participated in this project as narrator.) Adjust Your Color has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the image quality is quite good; the new footage looks strong, and while the archival videotapes from Greene's television show (including an inarguably memorable appearance by a young Howard Stern in blackface) don't fare quite as well (no surprise, as they were shot at low-budget local television studios in the 1970's), the lost footage has been restored as well as one could reasonably expect. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo, and sounds good though not exceptional. The interviews are in English, with no subtitles or multiple language options included (though the feature is closed captioned in English). No bonus materials have been included for this release, and it's a shame Adjust Your Color couldn't have been given an uncensored release on home video (certain expletives have been blanked out on the soundtrack, though Greene's politically incorrect racial terminology has been retained), but this documentary offers a funny and thought-provoking picture of the man behind the local legend, and those who've seen Talk To Me and want to know more about the real Petey Greene (as well as those who remember him from his heyday) will find this well worth their time.
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Special Features

Closed Caption
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Washington D.C. may be the capitol of the most powerful nation on Earth, but there's a side to the city that most folks who don't live there will never see, where a largely African-American population and a sizable economic underclass stands in the shadows of the halls of power. Petey Greene hardly seemed like a likely person to give this side of Washington D.C. a public voice -- he was a former junkie and alcoholic who had done time for armed robbery -- but Greene was a man with the gift of gab and he wasn't the least bit afraid to use it. In 1966, Greene landed a talk show on the Washington D.C. radio station WOL, and Greene became an overnight sensation with his outrageous humor, blunt street-wise commentary about racial and political issues and insistence that everyone who came on his show talk to him on his own level, from local political leaders to folks off the street. In 1976, Greene's success on radio led to a local television show, Petey Greene's Washington, which gained a nationwide audience when it was picked up by the fledgling BET network in 1980. Greene was a hero to the local D.C. community until he succumbed to liver cancer in 1984, and if story sounds like it would be fodder for a good movie, so far it has provided the basis for two worthwhile films. Don Cheadle played Petey Greene in Talk To Me, a 2007 drama based on his life, but Adjust Your Color: The Truth Of Petey Greene is a documentary produced for PBS that lets us see the real Petey Greene in action. Most documentary filmmakers would give their right arm for a subject like Petey Greene -- the man was brash, funny, charismatic and utterly fearless, willing to say anything that he believed in and able to swing from a candid appraisal of the fun side of drug abuse to a heartfelt celebration of the grandmother who raised him at a moment's notice. The footage of Greene on his television show (taken from tapes believed to have been lost for twenty-five years) is the heart and soul of Adjust Your Color, and while there are eloquent tributes to the man delivered by those who knew him well (including sportscaster James Brown, actor Robert Hooks, D.C. music legend Chuck Brown, former mayor Marion Barry Jr., boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and Dewey Hughes, the producer of Petey's television show), Greene dominates the screen whenever he's on camera, and despite (and sometimes because of) the rough edges of his style, it's not hard to imagine how Greene became a local hero. One remarkable moment comes when Greene welcomes to his show Howard Stern, then a disc jockey on a local radio station; Stern shows up in blackface and an Afro wig, but Greene defends Stern while cutting him down to size at the same time, and watching the King of Outrage banter with someone even more gifted than himself offers a perspective on where Stern learned a few of his tricks. Adjust Your Color portrays Greene as a man who, in the tradition of Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce, used over-the-top humor as an instrument of commentary and change, and as fine as Talk To Me was, this profile of Greene offers a more accurate picture of his talents and his legacy.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/3/2009
  • UPC: 841887010313
  • Original Release: 2008
  • Rating:

  • Source: Pbs (Direct)
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Language: English
  • Time: 53:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 88,958

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Don Cheadle Voice Only
Chuck Brown Participant
Dewey Hughes Participant
Marion Barry Participant
Midge Costanza Participant
Roach Brown Participant
Robert Hooks Participant
Sugar Ray Leonard Participant
Howard Stern Participant
Technical Credits
Loren Mendell Director, Cinematographer, Producer, Screenwriter
Carl Cramer Editor
Bob DeMars Producer
Jean-Paul DeMars Editor
Vic Doumani Co-producer
Joe Fries Executive Producer
Terence Greene Producer
Jon Hagstrom Executive Producer
Dennis Hamlin Score Composer
William Haugse Editor
Joey Rappa Executive Producer
Nickolas Dylan Rossi Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene
1. Introduction [5:49]
2. Early Years [11:39]
3. A Buzz in the Community [6:20]
4. Petey Greene's Washington [8:17]
5. Money Crazy [6:04]
6. Don't Come Weak [9:18]
7. He Must've Got Here by Prayer [5:38]
8. Credits [1:50]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   PBS.org
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