John Hickenlooper and the case of the vanishing F-bombs

The video above, promoting Hick Town, a proposed documentary/reality series by director George Hickenlooper starring his cousin, Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, has been available on YouTube for months. Most of the footage was shot during the Democratic National Convention -- hence the presence of Barack Obama, among other political heavyweights. But in recent days, a much saucier trailer turned up on the website of Epoch Films, a firm with which George is associated. As noted in an blog by Lisa Jones, John can be seen declaring, "I tell you how you deal with the press. You fuck the press!" Later in the clip, John says of his chief of staff, Kelly Brough, "She thinks she should be paid a lot more than I am." To that, Brough responds, "Because she's worth every fucking dime."

Why isn't a link to this clip included here? Because it vanished from its online home an hour or so after I called the mayor's office to inquire about it.

Epoch Films managing partner Jerry Solomon, corresponding via e-mail, doesn't shed much light on the trailer's disappearance. "This was not an Epoch production," he writes. "It was a project George worked on outside of our company. We used it for promotional purposes only. I have forwarded your e-mail on to George. It is up to him if he cares to respond."

If George reaches out, look for a followup blog.

As for the mayor's office, spokeswoman Sue Cobb says, "We didn't ask for it to come down," adding that she was surprised when she looked for it and found it gone yesterday afternoon. As for the current status of Hick Town, she also said she'd contact George and get back to us. But she didn't portray the F-bombing as any big deal.

"For his documentary, George shot more than 100 hours of film, and I think probably the only two F-words used by anyone made the trailer," she says. "In the case of the mayor, he was actually telling a story and quoting someone else, so it wasn't a firsthand statement. It was a quote, and it obviously doesn't reflect how he feels about the media."

Maybe not, but the routine is obviously one he enjoys. He shared it with an audience that included Westword managing editor Jonathan Shikes last Wednesday at Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey, a distillery celebrating the corking of its one-thousandth barrel. Shikes points out that a few other good-humored F-words slipped past the mayoral lips on that day as well.

Regarding Brough, Cobb says, "I don't know if you know her, but she's pretty much of a ham, and I think you can probably tell that she was joking. It was totally in jest."

True enough: The comment was played for a laugh in the now-absent trailer, which was first mentioned in an April 9 Huffington Post blog that didn't note the presence of expletives. blogger Jones did, and even though her item was almost certainly a factor in the video's removal, she actually sees the positive aspects of the sequences in question.

"I hope it doesn't affect George Hickenlooper's final cut of the series," she notes via e-mail. "I was impressed that the mayor and his staff agreed to be portrayed candidly. Some moments in the film might be unflattering, sure. But giving people an insider, warts-and-all view of what happened during the convention is a rare kind of public service. I'll be disappointed if the mayor is suddenly too fragile to stand by his cousin's work."

Judging by Cobb's response above, he's not -- but the timing of the video's Internet departure is certainly curious. Coincidence or conspiracy?

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts