Wild Palms

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Television series
Original title Wild Palms
Country of production United States
original language English
Year (s) 1993
length 285 minutes
Episodes 5
genre Science fiction
idea Bruce Wagner
script Bruce Wagner
production Oliver Stone ( Executive Producer )
Bruce Wagner (Executive Producer)
Michael Rauch
music Ryuichi Sakamoto
camera Phedon Papamichael
First broadcast May 16, 1993 on ABC
first broadcast
December 18, 1993 on RTL 2

Wild Palms is a five-part, US TV - miniseries for the first time on 16 May 1993 by the channels ABC aired in the US. It is based on a comic series published in 1990 in the magazine "Details", written by Bruce Wagner and drawn by Julian Allen . In Germany, the series was first shown on December 18, 1993 on RTL 2 .

Produced by Oliver Stone and Bruce Wagner, who also wrote the screenplay, is Wild Palms is a science fiction - drama about the manipulation of reality through mass media created virtual realities .


The USA in 2007 is ruled by the right-wing "fathers" who are fought underground by the libertarian "friends". The politically powerful and vocal representative of the “fathers” is the Californian Senator Tony Kreutzer. Kreutzer is the founder of the new religious belief “Synthiotics” and head of the media group “Wild Palms Group”. He plans to revolutionize the world of media with his television station Channel 3 and the new broadcast technology "Mimecom", a television format that creates a virtual reality. He is also aiming for the presidential candidacy.

Harry Wyckoff is a Los Angeles practicing lawyer and father of two children, Deirdre and Coty. Coty just got a role on a new sitcom being produced by Channel 3. Wyckoff is plagued by nightmares in which a rhinoceros and palm trees tattooed on human bodies play a central role.

Harry's former friend Paige Katz asks him to look for her son, who has been missing for five years. Harry accepts the assignment and discovers that large numbers of children have disappeared without a trace since the 1990s. Because of Paige's close contact with Senator Kreutzer, against whom the law firm is litigating on behalf of a client, Harry and his employer break up. Kreutzer learns of Harry's resignation and offers him a high position on his television station. Harry agrees.

Harry's wife, Grace, becomes increasingly estranged from him and tries to commit suicide. He learns that Paige's son has not really disappeared and that her search was only intended to lead Harry into Kreutzer's arms. His supposed son Coty turns out to be the son of Paige and Senator Kreutzer. Coty makes a career as a child star of Channel 3 and rises quickly through his ruthlessness in the hierarchy of "Synthiotics". In addition, Grace's mother Josie turns out to be the senator's sister, who brutally takes action against any personal or political rival. Her only weak point is her previous relationship with the leader of the "Friends", Eli Levitt, from which Grace emerged.

Meanwhile, Kreutzer is doing everything in his power to get hold of the “go chip”, which is supposed to give him unlimited power, and he does not shrink from murder. Although Paige is about to marry the senator, she supplies the "friends" with information, repulsed by his methods. Harry discovers his birth son in Peter, a boy who lives on the street, who was exchanged for Coty by the "fathers" after the birth. Kreutzer, who suspects Harry as an accomplice to the whereabouts of the "Go Chip", has Harry's daughter Deirdre kidnapped while Josie murders Grace.

Harry joins the "friends" and forces Grace's murder to be televised, which was recorded on video. The broadcast triggers massive protests against the senator. Even the broadcast of a fake video in which Harry appears to be strangling Grace and Levitt's murder ordered by Josie cannot stop the uprising. "Synthiotics" facilities are attacked by the angry crowd, and Josie is killed by her former victim, Tully Voivode. Kreutzer comes into possession of the “Go Chip” and has it implanted, but the chip was manipulated by Harry and Peter. Kreutzer reveals to Harry that this is his son, then he dissolves into nothing. The rule of the "fathers" is over and in the ensuing chaos, Harry frees his daughter and goes into a new life with her, Paige and Peter, while Coty and the Senator's remaining supporters are done for.


The actors and their roles


Production details

Producer Oliver Stone originally acquired the film rights to Bruce Wagner's novel Force Majeure , but decided to make it into a film after reading Wagner's comic series. Stone appreciated the - in his own words - “ syncretism ” of history and its broken view of the world: “Anything was possible. Your wife may not be your wife, your children may not be your children. That appealed to me. "The broadcaster ABC agreed to produce Wild Palms for 11 million US dollars , but demanded after the experience with David Lynch's series Twin Peaks , which started successfully but suffered noticeably from audience loss, that the series in itself be completed and have a beginning, a middle and an end (satisfying the audience).

Leading actor James Belushi compared Wild Palms, among other things, with the British series Number Six and confessed that the story irritated him and could overwhelm viewers. An accompanying book to the series, The Wild Palms Reader , was published before the TV premiere , and ABC installed a telephone hotline, under which viewers could get help with comprehension problems. In spite of this, Stone consciously accepted irritation: “It's not about completely understanding the plot. It's about the atmosphere. "

Wild Palms depicts a near-future USA that is heavily influenced by Japanese culture: clothing, interiors, and landscaping have a strong visual impact, repeated references to links to Japanese companies and the yakuza , and multiple protagonists with direct or distant Japanese Ancestors. A Miss Alabama with Japanese facial features even appeared in a test demonstration of the “Mimecon” broadcast technology .

In addition to Japanese design, the furnishings are influenced by the Scottish designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928). Other, deliberately anachronistic style elements - in addition to the music selection - are cars from the 1960s (e.g. Studebaker police cars) and items of clothing from different ages, including the Edwardian era .

Science fiction writer William Gibson plays himself in a cameo . Gibson later described the TV series as much weaker than its original, but rated the accompanying Wild Palms Reader as a positive side effect. In agreement with Stone, he described Bruce Wagner as the driving creative force of the series.

Oliver Stone also appears under his name and speaks out in a fictional television interview about new facts about the murder of John F. Kennedy and about his film JFK - Tatort Dallas .

Real references

In Bruce Wagner's original comic, references are openly made by name between Senator Tony Kreutzer and L. Ron Hubbard , founder of the Church of Scientology . The film adaptation is limited to hints: Hubbard's psychological technique “Dianetics” becomes “Synthiotics”, there are also allusions to the “Sea Organization” of Scientology and their fantasy marine uniforms. Kreutzer is a strong-voiced representative of the right-wing "fathers", Hubbard was a declared anti-communist , although he did not directly apply for political office. The New York Times pointed to “perhaps not accidental” parallels in an article, as did Entertainment Weekly and The Independent .

After Harry has switched to Kreutzer's team, he is commissioned by them to represent him in a process that competing broadcasters have brought about to break up his media group "Wild Palms Group". The reasoning of the prosecution is that Kreutzer has a “technical monopoly ” with his group, his television station Channel 3 and a broadcast technology used exclusively on this (“Mimecom”) . The basis of the lawsuit is the " Paramount Consent Decree", with which the dominant American film production companies were prohibited in 1948 from owning cinema chains in order to smash their oligopoly .

In a conversation, Kreutzer explains that his mother had Japanese ancestors and therefore died as a victim of " Executive Order 9066". In 1942, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the aforementioned Executive Order, which resulted in the internment of Americans of Japanese origin in camps. 146 inmates were killed in the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California alone .

During a conversation between Kreutzer's closest confidants, the comment is made that the fake video of Grace's murder will be broadcast “on all channels”, including CNN . After the broadcast, Harry has one last conversation with his mother-in-law Josie and makes her the sarcastic suggestion to start a weekly show with the murder of a surprise guest. He recommends Julius Caesar and Jimmy Hoffa as the first two participants . Hoffa, an American union leader with ties to the Mafia , disappeared without a trace on July 30, 1975, and the details of his death have never been clarified.


Artistic parallels

In David Cronenberg's film Videodrome (1983), an organization operates behind the facade of the glasses manufacturer “Spectacular Optical” in order to manipulate the viewer's experience of reality with its television program “Videodrome”. The program is to be broadcast on the television channel Channel 83, whose boss makes the organization submissive. In Wild Palms , the “Wild Palms Group” broadcasts the program format “Church Windows” on its television channel Channel 3 for the same manipulative purposes. In videodrome , the people behind the scenes want to unleash and bundle the aggression potential of the audience with manipulated images that cannot be distinguished from reality. Their reasoning is that North America has become "weak", "rotten inside" by shallow entertainment programs, and this process is to be stopped. In Wild Palms , shallow entertainment programs that creep in to replace reality are designed to distract viewers from the increasingly totalitarian system that is being built around them. - In Videodrome , the head of Channel 83 finally turns against the organization and kills its boss with the words “Death to Videodrome! Long live the New Flesh! ”In Wild Palms , Harry killed Grace in a fake video recording with the words“ Long live the Friends! Death to New Realism! "

In Philip K. Dick's novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965), consumers immerse themselves in a kind of soap opera fictional world by taking a drug called Can-D, which makes artificial reality appear real. In Wild Palms , the pseudorealistic effect of the sitcom fake world is enhanced by a drug called "Mimezine", which is still in development. In The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch , a new drug appears on the market that enables its provider, the eponymous Palmer Eldritch, to influence the consumer's perception and to appear personally in their changed reality. Senator Kreutzer has the “Go Chip” implanted in Wild Palms , which, as his sister Josie explains, will turn it into a hologram and enable him to penetrate into the dreams of every individual.

Accompanying publications


In addition to the original score by Ryūichi Sakamoto , many songs from the 1960s and some classical compositions are played in Wild Palms . The CD for the film, released in 1993, contained the following:

The following pieces to be heard in the series are not found on the soundtrack album:

Literature on the series

Parallel to the series, a Wild Palms Reader was published in the USA , in which, among others, well-known science fiction authors such as Norman Spinrad and William Gibson, counterculture artists such as Genesis P-Orridge (under another name) and Spain Rodriguez, as well as artificial intelligence researchers Hans Moravec and ex- CIA employee E. Howard Hunt made contributions. This was not published in Germany; instead, Bastei-Lübbe published (in addition to the comic by Wagner and Allen) a novel “about the great Oliver Stone film”, written by Horst Friedrichs .


Reviews in the US were mixed, but the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly were extremely positive. While the British Independent wrote a benevolent review, readers of the British magazine Broadcast voted Wild Palms fourth in the list of “worst American television imports” in 2004, behind Baywatch , The Anna Nicole Show and Ein Duke Seldom Comes Alone .

Wild Palms [resembles] the fantasy of an LSD freak […] The sheer density of Wild Palms can appear impenetrable in places. [...] Have you ever wished for something other than the usual? Here it is. And it just so happens that Wild Palms is terrific too! ”- John J. O'Connor, The New York Times

“Because of its length, its format, its expansive images and overwhelming feelings, Wild Palms is more of an opera than a television series. […] Unlike Twin Peaks , which started out brilliantly and then got lost in incoherence, Wild Palms lasts the whole length and adds new nuances to its characters. Wild Palms also has something crucial that Twin Peaks lacked: It doesn't take itself too seriously. ”- Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly

“The conspirators have long been at work. At least that's how Stone and his team see the world [...] The cars are cleaner in 2007 and the clothes are tighter. The rich have become even richer, the poor live in dirty ghettos. Oliver Stone sitcoms and talk shows and movies are still on television. In the temples of the 'Synthiotics' cult, Senator Anton Kreutzer preaches yes to television with all its illusions. The balance of power is obscure - but if someone opens his mouth too wide and rushes against the senator or his church, then these men are quickly there who wear dark suits and sunglasses and don't wiggle their fists for long. The future, as 'Wild Palms' shows it, is not a distant, strange scenery - it is only a vanishing point for the perspectives of the present: This series is about today; the makers have only consistently thought through to the end of what they are already seeing […] ”- Claudius Seidl, Der Spiegel

DVD release

Wild Palms was released on DVD in Australia in 2004 , in the US in 2005 and in the UK in 2008. In Germany the series was only released on VHS cassette.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wild Palms in the Internet Movie Database .
  2. a b c Benjamin Svetkey: "Palms" Sunday . Article in Entertainment Weekly of 14 May 1993, accessed on 27 January 2012 found.
  3. a b c Catherine Mayer: From the land of nightmares . Interview with Oliver Stone in Focus 50/1993 of December 13, 1993, accessed on January 31, 2012.
  4. Where the Holograms Go - entry on William Gibson's blog from July 22, 2006, accessed January 29, 2012.
  5. Russell Miller: Bare-Faced Messiah - The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard , Sphere Books, Penguin Group 1988. Online version , accessed January 27, 2012.
  6. John J. O'Connor: The Sunshiny Menace of 'Wild Palms' ... Article in The New York Times, May 16, 1993, accessed January 27, 2012.
  7. a b c Mary Harron: Television: Never mind reality, just revel in the kitsch: 'Wild Palms' began as a cartoon strip, now it's a mini-series with a major twist. Article in The Independent of November 7, 1993, accessed February 18, 2012.
  8. ^ Matt Wells: Baywatch voted worst American TV import . Article in The Guardian , November 26, 2004, accessed January 30, 2012.
  9. "" Wild Palms "resembles nothing so much as an acid freak's fantasy [...] The sheer density of" Wild Palms "can at times seem impenetrable. […] You wanted something different? Here it is. And "Wild Palms" also happens to be terrific. “- without J. O'Connor: The Sunshiny Menace of 'Wild Palms'… Article in The New York Times on May 16, 1993, accessed on January 27, 2012.
  10. ^ "In its length, scope, sweeping visual tableaux, and over-the-top passion, Wild Palms is more like an opera than a TV show. [...] Unlike Peaks , which started out brilliantly lucid and then rambled into incoherence, Palms sustains its length and adds layers of complexity to its characters. It also has something crucial that Peaks did not: a sense of humor about itself. "- Review in Entertainment Weekly on May 14, 1993, accessed on January 31, 2012.
  11. ^ Claudius Seidl: Pictures from Hell . Article in Der Spiegel 50/1993 of December 13, 1993, accessed January 30, 2012.