In this quirky documentary, codirectors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato catch up with the infamous Tammy Faye Messner (formerly Tammy Faye Bakker) 12 years after the Jim Bakker embezzlement scandal and the collapse of the PTL (Praise the Lord) network. The Bakkers launched PTL back in 1974 and within a short time found themselves at the head of a vast televangelist empire raking in millions of dollars in member contributions. When Jim's affair with Jessica Hahn came to light, the couple was ousted from the network by Jerry Falwell. Jim ended up going to prison for fraud, and Tammy found herself alone, grappling with cancer, the aftereffects of her addiction to prescription drugs, and estrangement from her family. Abruptly removed from the public eye and virtually forgotten, Tammy Faye has since attempted several as yet unfruitful media comebacks, which are documented here. Of course, there's also the more frivolous side to Tammy's story, such as some hilarious early TV appearances involving singing hand puppets and revealing background information on her obsession with mascara. The film (narrated by drag icon RuPaul Charles) is a campy yet ultimately loving portrait of Tammy Faye, who comes across as surprisingly sympathetic, a cheerful and irrepressible survivor of many calamities.
Rev. Jerry Falwell - RELIGIOUS LEADER
Fenton Bailey - American Director
Randy Barbato - American Director
Tammy Faye Bakker - Subject, THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE
Sandra Chandler - Director of Photography
Jim Bakker - PTL Founder
Paul Wiesepape - EYES OF TAMMY FAYE
RuPaul - Cross-Dresser/Actor
RuPaul Charles - Cross-Dresser/Actor
- Format: DVD
- Run Time: 80
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 031398835127
- Genre: Documentary
- Rating: PG-13 (MPAA) (sexual content)
- Release Date: July 2003
THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE is the first documentary about the rise and fall of television evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker in the 1980s. From the Bakkers' successful 24-hour satellite broadcast and the Christian theme park they built for their followers to their subsequent indictment by the court of public opinion for what was assessed to be a corrupt and greedy enterprise, the film attempts to explain what really happened. The directors, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, are known for the films PARTY MONSTER and THE REAL ELLEN STORY as well as the television series THE RUPAUL SHOW and documentary work for HBO.
Theatrical release: July 28, 2000 (LA/NY), August 11, 2000 (expanded) THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE was shown at numerous festivals (including many gay and lesbian film fests) before its general theatrical release and was a big hit at the 2000 Sundance Festival. Tammy Faye Messner performs several songs on the soundtrack. The directors first worked with Tammy Faye Messner 10 years prior to starting this project, when she appeared as a guest on a talk show they were filming for British TV. Among the television series created by directors Bailey and Barbato (for Channel Four in the UK and American cable TV) are THE ADAM AND JOE SHOW, SHOCK VIDEO, HOLLYWOOD FASHION MACHINE, and THE RUPAUL SHOW. The Boston Society of Film Critics named THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE Best Documentary of 2000.
"...Riotous without being condescending..." - 08/01/2000 Movieline's Hollywood Life, p.35
"...Lively documentary....The movie's richer, and far more fascinating, subject is the backstabbing history [of the televangelist church]..." - 08/11/2000 Entertainment Weekly, p.54
"...[A] largely irresistible puff piece....The film's subject remains dotty, naïve and sweet..." - 02/08/2001 USA Today, p.6E
"[A] fascinating, depressing and ultimately disquieting portrayal..." - 12/31/2003 Sight and Sound, p.67