Say Whaaaa? Special Edition: Get Ready for the Hills Have Thighs Trial of the Century


As any other episode worthy of The Twilight Zone would begin: Imagine, if you will, an upstanding lawyer. A man who, after two years working in Los Angeles, returned to his home state of South Carolina, where he eventually became the first independent elected to the state's House since Reconstruction. A man who emerged eight years later to his long-held dream of filmmaking, and who realized this dream with a 2007 mockumentary and his 2008 pièce de résistance -- the "hysterical Appalachian comedy" The Hills Have Thighs. A man known among friends and associates -- and now the world -- as Bubba. A man who never knew about his doppelgänger, or what it would cost him. A man who now knows the treachery, shock and numbness that follows that most incredulous cultural cry of "Say whaaaa?"

Yes, James "Bubba" Cromer has a bit of a problem, which he's since taken to court with a lawsuit claiming he was wronged by cable giants Showtime and HBO. The controversy revolves around a mix-up around Thighs, of which there are apparently two similarly titled films that Cromer alleges were mixed up on the night of his first broadcast. By Cromer's own description, his comedy is about "a local hillbilly icon named Daniel Boone Owen, who vanishes one night after a corn liquor-induced stupor." LOLZ, right? Cromer's suit says that even Showtime's subsidiary The Movie Channel had plugged it with fervor ahead of the cable premiere: "Bubba Cromer later tonight does it again with his second feature film The Hills Have Thighs. Deliverance in reverse." He told everyone he knew. And then...

[T]he appointed hour arrived, with a surprising plot twist: "I saw a set of thighs and realized instantly that wasn't my movie."

Instead of his "hysterical Appalachian comedy," it showed the film directed by Jim Wynorski, a longtime cult favorite and director of exploitation films with plenty of skin and risque turns on popular movie titles, such as the The Da Vinci Coed and The Witches of Breastwick.

The plot is pretty straightforward for its genre, according to its current Showtime listing: "A group searches the desert for a missing friend but instead find a trio of crazed, sex-starved mutant women."

Say whaaaa? No, seriously: Cromer says his phone blew up with angry calls and text messages accusing him of various depravities and, by association, embarrassments to South Carolina's political and civic institutions. Bubba's name was as good as mud. He also accused Cinemax of making the same mistake soon afterward (which the network denies), and thus HBO is named as well in the suit seeking unspecified damages.

And perhaps the most baffling coincidence about it all? That in the three decades since Wes Craven's original desert-mutant thriller, not a single enterprising pornographer had come up with The Hills Have Thighs before Wynorski and Cromer had their dueling epiphanies over the same year. Say whaaaa?, indeed. Just another nail in the coffin of the industry; they, too, will suffer for this failure of imagination. In any case, expect more details here as events warrant. Which they probably won't -- not like this, at least -- but how about a moment of silence for Bubba Cromer anyway?

· SC filmmaker: Channels showed porn, not his comedy [AP via Yahoo]