George Romero in Los Angeles in 2010. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)Link
Director George Romero in 1984. (Laurel-Day)Link
Director George Romero, left, and screenwriter Stephen King on the set of their first movie together, 1982's "Creepshow." (Warner Bros.)Link
George Romero in 2005. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)Link
George Romero at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills in 2008. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)Link
George Romero at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills in 2005. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)Link
The Village People have one. Lassie has one, and she’s a fictional dog. Mickey Mouse has one, and he’s an animated mouse. Mary-Kate and Ashley have one, and they’re … well, Mary-Kate and Ashley. Kim Kardashian thinks she deserves one. And more than 2,400 other people have them, most of whom you’ve never heard of.
But do you know who doesn’t have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? George Romero.
Now, a group of dedicated zombie lovers is trying to change that, launching a campaign to land George A. Romero, director of the landmark 1968 horror film “Night of the Living Dead,” its 1978 follow-up “Dawn of the Dead” and a long list of other horror films, his own star on the Walk of Fame.
“It is the rare director who changes the face of an entire genre and creates a new kind of horror,” said campaign supporter Steven C. Schlozman, author of “The Zombie Autopsies.” “[Romero broke] away from the campiness of the horror of his day when ‘Night of the Living Dead’ came out [and] made political commentaries that are as biting and timeless as they are witty.”
Romero might deserve a star, but getting him one won’t be cheap. If the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decides to award Romero a star, it will expect $30,000 to install and maintain it. But there’s no guarantee the application for a star will be approved — which is why the fans behind the campaign are trying to raise extra money for lobbying and a public relations blitz. They’re hoping to drum up $45,000 in all via crowd-funding site Indiegogo.
Their tally at the time of this writing: a little more than $7,000.
If they can’t come up with the rest of the money by Nov. 27, when the Indiegogo campaign ends, the pledges won’t be collected, and Romero will remain star-less for now. Fortunately, a few high-profile supporters are stepping up to the plate. Simon Pegg, John Carpenter and “30 Days of Night” co-creator Steve Niles have all taped video endorsements, and Raymond Teller (the silent half of Penn & Teller) has made a $1,000 pledge.
“I’m very optimistic that we’re going to get funded, because I personally won’t stop working on the project until it is funded,” said Matt Mogk, founder of the Zombie Research Society (“a global organization dedicated to raising the level of zombie knowledge and respect in the Arts and Sciences”). “But I must admit I thought the initial response would be larger than it has been. Everyone across the board is very supportive of Romero getting a star on the Walk of Fame, but not everyone is willing to put their money where their mouth is.”
Of course, there should be a lot of mouths (and money) for something like this: Zombies have never been more popular. In its third season, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” ranks as the highest rated scripted drama series on cable, and enough zombie-themed games are on the way to keep fans blasting away at rotting skulls until the (real) end of the world.
“If just a small fraction of the total number of zombie fans out there gave $1, we’d be more than funded in a matter of seconds,” Mogk said.
Romero himself is not part of the campaign, however. According to Mogk, the director has no idea that his admirers are hard at work on his behalf.
“I don’t think we can keep the secret from Romero until after the project is fully funded, and that’s fine,” Mogk said. “We just wanted to leave him in the dark in the early stages of planning and execution because we didn’t want him to tell us not to do it. He’s a humble guy who wouldn’t invite this kind of attention, so it was important to make sure that the effort was coming from the fans rather than from the man himself.”
Still, Mogk says the Walk of Fame honor is richly deserved.
“He created the modern zombie subgenre that is a billion-dollar industry across film, video games, events, clothing, etc.,” Mogk said of the filmmaker’s considerable influence. “If not for Romero, there would be no ‘Zombieland,’ no ‘Walking Dead’ graphic novel or TV show. He created a global phenomenon that keeps spreading and can’t be killed.”
– Steve Hockensmith
Steve Hockensmith is the author of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls” and other novels. His latest zombie book is “Cadaver in Chief: A Special Report from the Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse.”
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