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'Joe's Apartment': A story of sex, bugs and rock 'n' roll


July 24, 1996
Web posted at: 1:30 a.m. EDT

From Correspondent Sherri Sylvester

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- MTV, the network that brought you the show "Beavis and Butt-Head" and the dating game "Singled Out," releases its first feature film Friday, based on one of its quirky, surrealistic short features.

"Joe's Apartment," replete with New York location and cockroach infestation, is headed to the silver screen as a story filled with comedy, music, romance and bugs.

Although they may be the greasiest, ugliest bugs you've ever seen, cockroaches are the heart of this film. Each of the cast of thousands was endowed with a Brooklyn accent and a falsetto singing voice, so they could sing their way through the story of the Big City adventures of a Generation X'er with 50,000 cockroaches as roommates.

movie icon (561K QuickTime movie) "Tasty Toast"
(493K QuickTime movie) "Ralph Roach"
(884K QuickTime movie) "Singing Roaches"

"This film did change they way I view roaches," says the movie's star, Jerry O'Connell. "I now view them as kinder, more gentle, cleaner species than I had originally thought they were. I mean, I really think this film is going to do that for a lot of people."


O'Connell's change of heart wasn't shared by costar Megan Ward, whose role as Joe's love interest, Lily, called for romantic scenes often interrupted by his creepy roommates.

Ward actually acted with cockroach-sized rubber props, "but they were heavy, and they were dirty," she says. "Do I get points for that?"

A model of Ward was used for scenes in which real cockroaches run across Lily's body. "They weren't running on my body," Ward emphasized.

Computer generation created the special talking cockroaches for the movie, who can also sing. The bugs belt out toe- tapping tunes throughout "Joe's Apartment," from country to surf music to a Busby Berkley musical number.

Ward found that acting opposite digitized bugs held challenges beyond the repugnance factor. "You've got your director off to the side, screaming things at you," she says, like "'OK, it's getting larger now,'" or "'OK, now it's spilling now, and you really like this.'"

Both stars found that upstaging a room full of bugs, real or digitized, is impossible. "There was no doubt in my mind that this film was about the roaches. They are the star of the film," O'Connell says.

As the insects' indefatigable leader, Ralph Roach, says, "They can stomp us, they can pop us, but they'll never, ever stop us. And someday, the great H-bomb is going to drop, and we'll have the whole planet to ourselves!"


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