There's little doubt a good number of pop culture enthusiasts have wasted many hours wondering what it would be like if Mr. Peepers — Chris Kattan's sexually charged, apple-fiending, monkey-like character from late '90s Saturday Night Live — played the lead role in Being There — Hal Ashby's 1979 classic film about a simple-minded man whose simple-minded statements get interpreted as an oracle's wisdom.
Sometimes answers fall from the sky; sometimes they arrive at the SF Weekly office in a manila envelope with an anonymous note reading, "I found this at City Lights."
The envelope contained a bizarre and amusing book purportedly "written by C.L. Kattan." The title: Peepers, a canticle. Allegedly a screenplay for "a feature length film [based] around a character that communicated solely with the word 'Bah' and whose only interests were the rapid devouring of apples and humping the shows' rotating hosts," the script has lately turned up in bookstores in San Francisco and Los Angeles, despite the fact that no store has ordered it, and the ISBN on the back is a fake. (City Lights workers assured us they had never heard of it.)
Further, this screenplay is "a work of pure art that would no doubt send shock waves through the multiplexes, and indeed even the bedrock of American culture." And, of course, the back cover of the paperback copy calls Peepers, a canticle "the brilliant, unproduced screenplay by the acclaimed wit and seminal comic actor Chris Kattan."
To top it off, the script is very funny.
After first reporting on this on SF Weekly's arts blog, The Exhibitionist, we gathered enough clues to track down the author: one Justin Becker, a Los Angeles writer. "I traveled all across the West Coast planting these books like a demented Johnny Appleseed," he tells SF Weekly. "Chris Kattan's Wikipedia page says that 1,000 books were put in stores, but I can neither confirm or deny that number."
After we first wrote about the script, which is available in its entirety online, Peepers, a canticle went somewhat viral. We wondered: How has this changed his life? "I can't think of a single possible effect this could have on my life, other than killing any chance I ever had of being friends with Chris Kattan," Becker says. "I'd like to think that in the unlikely scenario that Hollywood ever does decide to make a Mr. Peepers movie, I'd be the first one they called to write it, but I also imagine that by then I'll be too busy fording rivers of blood, because if that happens it will truly be the end times."