Following years of bad blood, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss have opted out of appearing in what's being billed as the definitive Kiss documentary, You Wanted The Best You Got The Best. Classic Rock magazine spoke to director Alan G. Parker, who's behind the officially sanctioned film, and he shed light on why the two co-founders are staying away from anything having to do with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, explaining, "Gene and Paul were shocked at first, but now they don't seem to be. There's been so much bitchiness down the years, and so much said about and done to Ace and Peter that they interpreted the request to be in the movie as a favor to Gene and Paul. Because of that they won't go anywhere near it. The negotiations were interesting to say the least."
In the end Parker will use footage shot of Frehley and Criss by band archivist -- and current lead guitarist -- Tommy Thayer back in 2001. In addition to Thayer and current drummer Eric Singer, Parker has filmed interviews with former guitarist Bruce Kulick and his brother Bob Kulick -- who performed on many of the band's studio tracks. Parker also held, "positive meetings" with the family of Eric Carr, the band's late drummer, who replaced Peter Criss in 1980 and died of heart cancer in 1991.
With a few more interviews still to undertake, Parker "hopes to show the finished film to the band in February or March, followed by a spot at the Cannes Film Festival in May and a worldwide opening in the autumn of 2014."
Former Kiss filmmaker Tommy Thayer now "portrays" Frehley's character in Kiss' live show. Unlike Frehley's original replacement Vinnie Vincent -- who was given his own unique persona -- fans have had mixed reactions to Thayer duping some fans into thinking Frehley is still playing with the band. Thayer looks at it from a theatrical, rather than a historical perspective: "You've had different guitarists in and out of the band, and different members -- at this point, if you start introducing new characters and new makeup designs and things, that I think that it really dilutes the whole core and, y'know, the original foundation of what Kiss is. And those four original characters are certainly the whole basis of it. To change that and come up with a new design or character, it just convolutes things."
Ace Frehley left Kiss after the band's 2002 Farewell dates, saying afterwards that he took the word "farewell" seriously.
Peter Criss claimed that his contract with Kiss wasn't renewed in March 2004.
Both charges have been disputed by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
INTERNET COMMENTS at ClassicRockMagazine.com and UltimateClassicRock.com -- agree or not?
Chuck Thim wrote: "While I agree that Frehley & Criss have shot themselves in the foot numerous times because of their dependecies & most of the time have only themselves to blame, Gene & Paul, (mostly Gene), could've shown more class over the years. The bashing should've ended years ago. A compliment every now & then wouldn't kill him. I can't say I blame Ace & Peter for not participating. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if they're not just holding out for money. I'm sure they didn't make as much as Gene & Paul through the reunion years. Not sure if it was true, but I had read that Ace owed a lot in back taxes on his Conneticut mansion. Neither he nor Criss have ever been wise with their money. wasn't music a lot more fun before we realized it was a business?"
Brayton Wright wrote: "This film is being paid for by Universal - not Gene/Paul or KISS Co. Alan Parker is the one behind it and his resume is impressive for these documentaries. He has no incentive to lean it to Gene/Paul's favour when it's not them footing the bill. He wouldn't make a biased documentary now if he hasn't before. It'd be detrimental to his reputation as a filmmaker. Ace/Peter passed up on this - the largest platform for their side of the story, honestly. The fans lose on this because they're robbed of everyone's take. Ace/Peter want to have their side told? They just passed on it, and it's a shame."
warptek wrote: "Gene and Paul were shocked at Ace and Peter? Gee, could it be you both have bad mouthed them in the press for years and years, fired Peter, replaced the legendary Ace f****** Frehley with a tribute band replacement? Get real, pompous arrogant pr****. I wish whats left of this once great band would just quietly disappear."
Gary Fox wrote: "they were fired because they couldn't cut it musically or physically anymore"
CHECK IT OUT: Kiss in 1998 performing "I Was Made For Loving You" live at Dodger Stadium: