Laura Wimbels of The Big Bad B-Movie Show Celebrates New Late Night Time Slot, Laments What This Means For Some Of The Show’s Most Loyal Viewers – The Prisoners



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  • Photography Jason Shaffer
  • Zachariah Durr and Laura Wimbels, alias Léopold and Lenora

Laura Wimbels and Zachariah Durr have plenty to celebrate as The Big Bad B-Movie Show nears its first anniversary on air.

On the one hand, the show – a campy horror comeback with B movies, sketches, jokes, and guest stars – not only made it a year, but was picked up for a second season by Channel 43.

This was no minor feat: Born in 2020 amid quarantines and closures to fuel pandemic viewing habits with a healthy dose of nostalgia, this was the station’s first foray into programming. original script with no news in three decades.

“We asked ourselves: are we showing rehearsals or something creative? Erik Schrader, the station’s general manager, told The New York Times last year. “We took the creative angle because we believe that advertisers are going to be interested in something produced locally that has original energy.”

Wimbels and Durr, a producer at the station, were both longtime fans of the genre and of legendary horror devices like Ghoulardi and Vampira, which kept fans entertained in the wee hours of the night.

“My mom told me when I was five years old I saw Superhost on the WUAB Prize movie show,” Durr told Scene last year. “He was dressed like a red nosed Superman and was presenting a movie of monsters in rubber suits. I turned to my mom and said, ‘I want this job. “I never thought this would actually happen.”

Beginning last October with Attack of the Giant Leeches from 1959, a rubber suit monsters film that was shot in eight days, The Big Bad B-Movie featured Leopold and Lenora, two people who were locked in the movie vault at WUAB for years with only bad B-series movies to watch for entertainment, to local audiences on Saturday night at 8 p.m.

A year later, that audience grew and The Big Bad B-Movie Show was renewed and moved to a new 11 p.m. time slot, a more natural home for the program and which puts Leopold and Lenora on the air in the same small hours. when their horror icons dazzled audiences.

“When we heard we were going to move on at 11pm it was so exciting,” Wimbels told Scene. “It’s a real time slot for a horror show, late night weekends.”

But there is a downside: a small but essential segment of their audience will no longer be able to watch the show.

Durr and Wimbels knew early on that they wanted to engage viewers beyond the screen.

“We wanted and still want to create an old-fashioned fan club,” said Wimbels. “When I was growing up I loved writing to different little magazines for giveaways or fan clubs for a band I loved. You had fan clubs because social media wasn’t there. The signed head photo in the mail was really exciting. ”

They didn’t have time to write a newsletter right away, but they didn’t want to sit down on the idea. So they made a short video and posted an address and offered a signed facial photo to anyone who took the time to write a letter and send it in the mail.

Two months later, the letters started to arrive, and they haven’t stopped.

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“It was surprising and weirdly reaffirming that, yes, people are watching and they’re really excited about it,” Wimbels said. “I’ve always wanted to do nothing more than make people happy, and with the show during the pandemic you don’t know if you are seen or if it resonates, but these people take the time to write letters. to thank you for helping them forget what’s going on in the world for an hour or two. It’s something that every time I read a letter I feel grateful and grateful for. ”

And among the letters – from hospital workers thanking their minds for turning their minds away from the pandemic, people trapped in their homes, Ghoulardi fans who hailed a revival of their childhood with the show – Wimbels began to notice how many came from prisoners.

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“They’re limited to local channels, often,” said Wimbels, whose experience with Dr. Meghan Novisky at Cleveland State University during a criminology class she credits with an empathy for what prisoners treat during their incarceration. “I remember transcribing audio files of Dr. Novisky’s interviews with newly released prisoners, talking about their time, things they had to go through, situations with the guards. It’s a very lonely place. , and when I realized that the prisoners were watching our show, it made me very happy to know that something on TV that was a local program resonated with them in relation to anything they might have to watch on television on Saturday evening. ”

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The new 23-hour time slot comes after the lights go out, which means most of them will no longer be able to escape every weekend to the land of Leopold and Lenora.

“My biggest feeling when the show started last September was that so many of us felt alone and isolated in so many different ways,” Wimbels said. “And that’s what I considered the biggest benefit of the show: reaching out to those who felt lonely and isolated, making them smile and forgetting everything for an hour or two on a Saturday night. I had no idea that it would reach a whole population of people who experienced loneliness and isolation long before Covid hit. ”

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The Big Bad B-Movie show returns with season two on October 9, which airs on Channel 43 on Saturday nights at 11 p.m. and will be available to stream through Channel 43 and Channel 19.

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