ALMOST SINGLE-HANDEDLY LINDA SHAYNE PRODUCED `PURPLE PEOPLE EATER'

Published: Friday, Jan. 6 1989 12:00 a.m. MST

She looks like a college football cheerleader 10 years after graduation, diminutive and bubbly.

Her smile is white and frequent. Her voice is upbeat and her eyes quick and intelligent.But Linda Shayne, 32, is more than the sum of her 5-foot-3, 103 pounds of parts. She is a one-woman band, an auteur, an energetic filmmaker and the first of her sex to put together a movie almost single handedly.

Shayne wrote, produced, directed and acted in "Purple People Eater." She also found the financing, assisted in the editing and put together the sound track.

Only the likes of Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone so completely dominate the creative elements of their movies.

Whether "Purple People Eater," based on Sheb Wooley's 1958 song sensation, will be a box-office hit is moot.

Her budget was modest and her stars are not exactly marquee attractions - Ned Beatty, Shelley Winters, Chubby Checker and Peggy Lipton.

Shayne's accomplishment is no stroke of luck. She had been preparing for just such a project all her life. She earned a degree from the University of California and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, hoping to become an actress.

She has written and produced movies for low-budget whiz Roger Corman and worked as a writer and associate producer at Disney. She also developed two TV series, neither of which made prime time, and has acted in a dozen films and TV shows.

She gained more experience as a second unit director in "Big Bad Mama II" and served as executive producer on "Screwballs."

After putting the finishing touches to "Purple People Eater," Shayne said, "It's really a dream come true. I liked directing the film because it utilized all my intellect and emotions. All my experiences were at my fingertips.

"And it was funny, my childhood experiences rushed back to me."

When it came time for a couple of bit parts in the picture, one playing a nurse in a scene with Shelley Winters and the other dancing with Chubby Checker, Shayne cast herself just for the fun of it.

"When I talk business and money, people listen. I know about movie financing and my track record has been good. Bankers and financiers listen to anyone who can discuss profits.

"I'm still getting quarterly profit checks from some of the pictures I did with Roger Corman.

"I must admit I was surprised by some agents and bankers who expect women to defer to them because they are men, but I'm persistent. I believe in creative arguments and I'm a joy to negotiate with because I never lose my temper.

"I'm not hindered by the male ego problem about not returning telephone calls. If someone doesn't return my call, I call again and again until I reach the person. As I used to tell my mother, I can't take no for an answer."

While Shayne's credits on "Purple People Eater" would make it appear she did it all alone, she is quick to say she is indebted to a great many people, including producers Brad Krevoy and Steve Stabler.

"Moviemaking is so specialized that it's impossible for one person to do everything," she said. "But I came as close as I could by working in a lot of departments in pre-production and post-production.

"I love being in on everything because I enjoy being an autuer, which gives me the freedom to create and then see my original thoughts and dreams come true on the screen.

"Right now I'm exhausted because I've been working for six straight months without a break. But I'm blessed with a high energy level. During principal photography I worked 16 hours a day, six days a week. And then on Sundays I'd scout the next week's locations.

"It was energizing because when you believe in something as strongly as I did in this film, you do everything to make it possible.

"Now we have a real kid movie with no sex, no nudity and no drugs. It's a happy, upbeat picture for the whole family.

"It's about one lovable purple alien who comes to Earth to join a rock band. It's quirky and fun, the kind of movie I want to keep making in the future."

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