Otter’s career in film, as it were, is a cautionary tale

A Western shot in Idaho in 1993 was rereleased with many sex scenes.

(IDAHO FALLS) POST REGISTERMarch 7, 2014 

Mar6OtterMovie1.JPG

Butch Otter has three scenes in the film, none of them erotic.

FROM “A TIME TO REVENGE”

  • Otter's scenes

    Then-Lt. Gov. Butch Otter portrayed a corrupt sheriff in the 1997 film “A Time to Revenge.” His character is in the pocket of “… a rich, ruthless land baron who’s getting richer by squeezing out or killing off his neighbors,” according to the movie’s DVD jacket cover.

    The villainous land baron “Major Whittmar” is played by Paul Gleason, who is probably best remembered by movie fans “for his role as the no-nonsense principal ‘Richard Vernon’ in ‘The Breakfast Club,’ ” according to Internet Movie Data Base.

    Otter’s character has lines in three scenes and is known only as “Sheriff.” Otter is on camera for 3 minutes, 4 seconds.

    Scene 1

    Sheriff enters bar to break up a fight between the land baron’s henchman, named Jake, and a rancher, named Conrad, played by real-life rodeo great Larry Mahan.

    Sheriff: “OK, boys, that’s enough.”

    “Conrad! Conrad! I said that’s enough.”

    “(Unintelligible) you want to spend the night in jail?”

    “Just back off Jake.”

    “Listen Conrad, I was elected to keep the peace around here, and by God, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

    “I think it’s time you got the hell out of here.”

    “Jake, you OK?”

    “You better have a beer and cool off.”

    (Points to young woman at the end of the bar.)

    “(Unintelligible) pretty little thing waitin’ for you over there.” (winks)

    “See you later.”

    Scene 2

    Sheriff is on phone with The Major after Mahan’s character has been found dead, murdered by The Major’s son.

    Sheriff: “No sir, she thought it was an accident.”

    “No sir, nobody knows how it happened.”

    “I guess Billy Two Feathers found him in a pasture.”

    Scene 3

    The Major has ordered Sheriff to go to Conrad’s ranch to arrest Conrad’s son, Will, for rustling The Major’s cattle. The cattle were brought there by The Major’s son in the dead of night to frame Will.

    Sheriff: “He’s here to identify The Major’s cattle.”

    “Will, The Major called me this morning and told me you stole his cattle truck last night with some of these cattle in it.”

    “Hold it, Will, I’m gonna have to take you in.”

    “Let’s go, Will.”

Did you hear the one about the guy who went to see a man about a horse and ended up in a soft-core porn movie?

It is not a joke.

That’s essentially what happened to Butch Otter when he went to visit a California movie crew that needed horses for what was described as “a low-budget horse opera” that was filming near Weiser.

Otter had a credited, speaking role in the movie, which originally produced under the working title “Roundup” but was retitled “A Time to Revenge.” The movie, which began filming in 1993, was released straight to video as an R-rated film in 1997 and rereleased as unrated in 2003.

DVDs of the film remain for sale on Amazon at prices ranging from 79 cents to $14.95.

When asked about the film Wednesday, Otter spokesmen Jon Hanian and Mark Warbis said the film’s unrated version isn’t even a facsimile of the movie their boss signed on for. While neither had seen the film, they said there’s no online reference to Otter ever appearing in it.

That’s true — as it is for many of those involved in the film. Actress Elizabeth Berkley of “Saved by the Bell” and “Showgirls” fame was part of the original cast and is featured in the trailer, but her scenes were cut.

IN THE MOVIES

The unrated version features more than 10 minutes of sex scenes that can only be described as soft-core pornography — simulated sex with women shown in full frontal nudity. Those scenes, Hanian and Warbis said, were not in the original script and Otter had no knowledge of them until contacted by the Post Register.

Many of the film’s executives and actors are dead. Others, living in locales ranging from California to India, could not be reached for comment.

Actor Paul Gleason, the principal from “The Breakfast Club,” was the best-known actor in the film at the time. Gleason, whose other credits included “Trading Places” and “Die Hard,” died of cancer in 2006.

For his part, Otter, who appears and speaks in three scenes totaling more than three minutes, is fully clothed — as is nearly everyone else in the film.

Julie Michaels, the movie’s lead actress, appears in two sex scenes with the movie’s hero, Ken Olandt, who appears in three sex scenes. Michaels was a college gymnast who went on to become a beauty queen. She is an actress, producer and stuntwoman who has appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including “Baywatch” and “Roadhouse,” starring Patrick Swayze.

In many of her movies, she appears nude or partially nude.

A CHANCE ROLE

So how is it that Otter, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, came to be in the movie?

The Statesman reported in 1993 that Otter heard through a friend that the Western Image Group film crew needed horses and a roper. When Otter went to talk to the director about using his horses, the director liked Otter’s authentic Idaho looks so much, he asked him whether he’d like to read for the part of the corrupt sheriff.

Well, why the heck not?

The fact that several executives involved in “Roundup” had a history of working on low-budget movies could have given cause for pause, though.

After the original production company went bankrupt, filming was stopped in Idaho when the money ran out. The movie rights were sold and the film was re-edited, and four years later, it was released as “A Time to Revenge.”

Hanian said that the movie the governor thought he was acting in is not what viewers would see in the unrated version.

That argument was supported by Warbis.

“There is no there, there,” he said, emphatically.

To warrant an R rating, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, such films include “adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements.”

Unrated movies are not classified by the MPAA and often are unrated because they contain more strong language, sex and/or violence than the original version.

SEX SCENES ADDED?

Warbis, speaking on Otter’s behalf, claims that the extensive erotic scenes were added well after — possibly years after — Otter’s work on the film was done. However, there’s nothing apparent in the movie, which was shot on film, to indicate that the scenes would have been filmed later.

He said the film’s content was significantly changed.

“We don’t know that the same people making it when the governor was involved in it had anything to do with the product that got on the street. We don’t know what happened to it and there was no reason … we should know that,” Warbis said.

“ … How would the governor — or at that time the lieutenant governor — have had anything to do with that or know about it? There was no reason for it. His part was minuscule.”

Hanian said his boss read the entire script before signing on and found nothing “unseemly or untoward in any part.”

Hanian and Warbis said the filming was part of the Idaho Department of Commerce’s efforts at the time to recruit film companies. They said Peg Owens, a marketing specialist running the Idaho Film Office, referred Otter to the filmmakers.

“He did a bit part — at the request of the filmmakers — after reading a script that he found had no objectionable material in it, after he had brought up horses for the production at the request of the Department of Commerce,” Warbis said.

Owens, who will retire soon, recalled Otter taking a trip with her to Los Angeles to promote the film industry using Idaho as a location.

“I think that’s when someone talked to him about filming this particular project,” she said. “They approached him for some horses and he ended up playing a small role just for fun.”

Owens said that she didn’t vouch for the filmmakers to Otter and that the Idaho Film Office was not involved in assisting with any of the production because the filmmakers already had a location and were in Idaho only for a week.

“It’s not required that we vet the filmmakers because we are not a regulatory agency,” she said. “They have the right to produce (any type of film) on private land.”

Looking back, she said she’s not surprised the movie originally pitched as “Roundup” failed.

“On the first day on set … my observation was that they didn’t know what they were doing,” she said.

She said the filmmakers fired the director of photography during filming in Idaho.

But Owens believes Otter’s intentions were pure.

“I think he was just trying to help some filmmakers and what happened to that movie happened after,” Owens said.

THE ACTOR IN BUTCH

Otter, who according to the Statesman appeared in high school and college productions, seemed blinded by the spotlight.

When asked about his movie acting debut in 1993, he told the Statesman, “I’d like to do something like a ‘Lonesome Dove,’ ” referring to the TV miniseries based on the Larry McMurtry novel.

“A Time to Revenge” was released heavily in South Korea and Germany but was not popular in the U.S.

Hanian said that Otter’s first sense of the film’s divergent path came a few years ago when former Nevada governor and U.S. Congressman Jim Gibbons called Otter after having seen him in the movie. At the time, Gibbons was watching late-night TV in a Santiago, Chile, hotel room.

At the time of the film’s foreign release, Otter — who makes trips abroad to promote Idaho exports — joked that the movie could make him more recognizable outside the U.S.

“I fully expect somebody to come up to me and say, ‘Sheriff Butch!’ Sheriff Butch! I want your autograph,’ ” he told the Statesman in 1998.

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