As most of the globe is familiar with, Bob Ross shot to world wide fame in the ’80s and ’90s with his calming educational portray Television show, The Pleasure of Painting. A just-launched Netflix documentary, Bob Ross: Content Incidents, Betrayal & Greed, chronicles the surprising—and distressing—back story that operates counter to the beloved PBS painter’s aura of untroubled positivity.
Annette and Walt Kowalski were Ross’s extended-time enterprise partners, actively playing a critical job in his increase to stardom. Along with chronicling a feasible affair between Annette and Bob and the Bob Ross empire’s rivalries with other Do it yourself painters, Bob Ross: Satisfied Mishaps, Betrayal & Greed highlights accusations from Steve Ross, Bob’s son, that the Kowalskis seized regulate of Bob Ross Inc. at the finish of Bob’s everyday living, though he suffered from cancer. (The film is the issue of the most recent episode of the Artnet Information podcast, The Art Angle.)
Steve alleges that he has been shut out of the company even with his father’s want that his son have on his legacy. Meanwhile, in the a long time given that Bob’s demise, the Kowalskis have developed a large Bob Ross licensing empire powered by the public’s continued really like of the Joy of Portray.
Now, following the film’s debut on Netflix, the Kowalski household is firing again at the filmmakers, alleging an “inaccurate and heavily slanted portrayal of our company” in the film.
The Kowalskis create in their assertion: “While the producers of the Netflix film did get in touch with Bob Ross Inc. two times, in late August and October 2020, each ask for arrived replete with a confounding absence of transparency. At no time did they pose distinct concerns to Bob Ross Inc. or request for any type of rebuttal to certain assertions they experienced resolved to incorporate in the film. Nor was it mentioned that they experienced a distribution offer with Netflix.”
The statement goes on to say that “the final narrative lacks significant nuance and precision and carries a apparent bias in favor of all those who were being interviewed.”
In their most concrete try to appropriate the report, the Kowalskis say that the documentary is misleading about the character of Bob Ross Inc.’s historical past with Steve:
in the movie, Steve Ross says, “I have been wanting to get this story out for years” – a statement that designs the in general direction of the movie, building the idea that he was earlier prevented from carrying out so. Bob Ross Inc. in no way pursued or threatened legal action from Steve Ross, and, in simple fact, no one at Bob Ross Inc. read from Steve Ross for virtually 20 several years, till 2017 when Steve submitted fit in opposition to the firm without any prior interaction.
They also point out that following viewing media reviews about the film’s summer release, Bob Ross Inc. attempted to get to out to the filmmakers in May well 2021 to provide remark. “They did not return calls or e-mail and at last responded by means of their legal professional. We presented a extensive assertion, and the filmmakers selected not to use it.” (Before the film’s conclusion credits, a textual content card suggests that the Kowalskis replied just after the movie was carried out, and that they “deny that their romantic relationship with Bob Ross was fractured at any level.”)
Asked by email about the Kowalskis’ assertion, the documentary’s director Joshua Rofé supplied the adhering to:
Our mission has constantly been to tell a truthful tale about the existence and legacy of Bob Ross. And we stand by the film we created. We would have liked for the Kowalskis to take part, as we had hoped to listen to from all people today closest to Bob, but they declined on extra than one particular event. After the movie was done, the Kowalskis agreed to response queries in creating, and we provided those distinct responses at the stop of the film.
In his interview with the Art Angle, Rofé reported he experienced not established out to make a documentary about the at the rear of-the-scenes drama. He claimed he began by making an attempt simply just to notify a story that stuffed in the aspects of a beloved general public figure’s lifestyle, achieving out to Bob Ross’s previous colleagues.
“We were coming up in opposition to two issues: it was distinct they all loved Bob…,” Rofé explained. “The other factor was that they were being all afraid to discuss about him publicly for dread of some kind of lawful retaliation by an entity they refused to name. It was in these moments that I knew I had to go after building this movie and to attempt to explain to this story.”
Dana Jester, described as “Bob’s friend” and currently a enterprise husband or wife with Steve, is noticed in the film declaring, “A good deal of people are backing out that agreed to do an interview for this due to the fact they are are fearful of the Kowalskis.” The documentary states that “more than a dozen individuals who knew and labored with Bob declined to participate… because of to the worries of legal retaliation.”
On social media, viewers of Bob Ross: Satisfied Mishaps, Betrayal & Greed expressed being heartbroken or joked about plotting revenge against the Kowalski family members. “Okay so remember to boycott Bob Ross INC and really don’t invest in any Bob Ross merch simply because his son Steve does not see any of that revenue what so at any time and his title is currently being exploited from Bob’s wishes in advance of his dying,” wrote one particular.
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