By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Bogart’s apotheosis was perhaps the 1978 film Thank God It’s Friday, based on his original idea, which brought together Casablanca’s stable of disco stars and almost-stars (and a young Jeff Goldblum as a romantic lead) for a love story about the magic of clubbing. The label rented the L.A. version of Studio 54, a cavernous dancing den called Osko’s on La Cienega at Burton Way, and filmed Bogart’s fairy tale of disco land. “If that sounds like an expensive and lengthy commercial for Casablanca,” writes Harris, “that’s exactly what it was.”
Unfortunately — though its soundtrack did great business and Summer’s “Last Dance” won a Grammy and the Oscar — Thank God It’s Friday was pummeled by the Saturday Night Fever juggernaut.
By early 1979 the backlash against disco had grown massive and ugly, fueled by a market saturated with substandard product and by the insecurities of hard-rock fans who wanted the spotlight back on guitar bands. Casablanca, unavoidably associated with dance music, was one of the targets of the antidisco campaign. After Donna Summer and KISS left for bigger labels and more lucrative contracts, and PolyGram wanted greater accountability from Bogart, Harris realized the gig was up and quit a year before the conglomerate ousted the colorful label founder.
Bogart left Casablanca in 1980 and died two years later of lymphoma — at 39. “This guy lived a life that most people don’t come close to,” Harris says. “He contributed and did so much — 35 years later people are talking about making a movie about his life.”