Paul Williams: Still Alive


He won Grammys and an Academy Award; wrote numerous hit songs (including The Carpenters’ “Rainy Days and Mondays,” Barbara Streisand’s “Evergreen” and Three Dog Night’s “An Old Fashioned Love Song”); worked with The Muppets (penning the classic “The Rainbow Connection” for The Muppet Movie); starred in Brian DePalma’s cult musical The Phantom of the Paradise as well as the Smokey and the Bandit franchise; put out his own hit records and albums; was a guest on The Tonight Show fifty times; and is the president of ASCAP … and you might not have heard of him.
In the 1970’s, Paul Williams was the singer / actor / songwriter that emotional, alienated teenage boys all over the world wanted to be, a sex symbol before MTV, when sex symbols could be 5″2 and sing songs about loneliness with the Muppets. But as the decade began to fade, so did Williams’ career, with an ego-fueled drug addiction pushing his considerable talents to the side.
Thirty years later, filmmaker Stephen Kessler found himself wondering what happened to his childhood idol, and discovered Paul Williams was still performing for rapturous audiences in small venues around the world. Kessler convinces the reluctant star to allow him to tag along on tour, and the loveably cantankerous subject and the anxiety-filled filmmaker form a surprising bond as Williams freely shares his life of triumphs, indiscretions, and recovery—much of it chronicled in archival television footage.
A wistful musical journey that will re-introduce a new generation to Williams’ soulful classics, Paul Williams: Still Alive is the charming and sometimes loopy tale of one filmmaker’s lifelong obsession with a former pop culture superstar – a nostalgic look back as well as an optimistic look forward that proves Paul Williams is indeed very much alive.