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Jim Mallon was the executive producer of the Peabody Award-winning series Mystery Science Theater 3000, and president of Best Brains, Inc., the series' production company. He also directed more than 75 episodes of MST3K and played the role of Gypsy from the first season until the middle of the eighth season.
Mallon began producing television and comedy movies while still in high school, and continued while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
At Madison, Mallon was elected President of the Wisconsin Student Association on the Pail and Shovel Party ticket. Along with WSA Vice-President Leon Varjian, Mallon oversaw the redirection of the groups budget away from various social causes in the direction of artistic projects, including several startling and amusing public neo-Dadaist stunts. One morning WSA filled the central quad with hundreds of plastic pink flamingos. Perhaps the most memorable stunt created by Mallon's crew was the creation of a replica of the top of the Statue of Liberty. Placed on the frozen ice of Lake Mendota unannounced, it gave the gave the appearance of the statue standing at the bottom of the lake and frozen in up to its nose. (Pail and Shovel had made a series of apparently ridiculous campaign promises, including installing escalators on campus hills, changing the school's name to The University of New Jersey, and bringing the Staue of Liberty to Madison.) The original Mendota Liberty was burned by vandals, reputedly a protest by campus feminists against WSA funding such projects instead of giving additional support to an agency that provided safe rides to women after dark. In response, WSA had the statue rebuilt, and placed back on the lake the next winter.
Mallon also produced and directed programs for CBS and PBS affiliates WISC-TV and WHA-TV in Madison, Wisconsin|Madison and made his feature film debut in 1984 with Blood Hook, distributed worldwide by Troma, Inc.
In 1986, Mallon became the production manager of a new independent UHF television station, KTMA, in Minneapolis. There Mallon hired future MST3K cohort, Kevin Murphy. In 1988, Mallon met series creator Joel Hodgson and Mystery Science Theater 3000 was born.
As MST3K began to gain national attention, Mallon and Hodgson began to disagree on the future of the series. Hodgson said in a 1999 interview with the Onion AV Club that the reason he left the series was due to creative infighting between him and Mallon, presumably over the possibility of a movie based on the series. Mallon later directed the eventual Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, released by Gramercy Pictures on April 19, 1996.
- Gypsy (1989-1997)
- Enoch (voice) - The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy
- Great White Hunter - Jungle Goddess
- Customer Support (voice) - The Starfighters
- Gary - The Incredible Melting Man
- Monad (voice) - Laserblast
- Deep Ape extra - Revenge of the Creature
- "The programming at KTMA was bottom- basin. Our prime-time headliner was Love, American Style paired with Hawaii 5-0 [sic], and we had the worst movie library imaginable.
- "Joel had three or four drawings on a yellow pad, and he said, “You know how they have these hosted movies? How about instead of having the host at the commercial breaks, we have the host be in the movie?”"
- "The show was a lot of work. By around March or April [of 1989], we were all kind of burned out. And it just happened at that time that HBO decided—based on the success of music TV—that they could create comedy TV, and they were looking for programming. We went through our tapes and pulled out seven minutes of the best material we had."
- "Fans of Mystery Science tend to be above-average smart—you know, B-plus students and higher. And those are some of the people that first adopted the Internet. They were very passionate about the show. Later we did our first national convention, and about 2,500 people flew in from around the country. We also did the first live show, and afterward we had a party. On Monday morning somebody looked at one of these Usenet groups and there was a detailed, blow-by-blow description of who had come to the party, who they’d danced with, who had been drinking, and who hadn’t."
- "I think Joel operated under the idea that this was his show, and everyone was working for him. And everyone else was into this sort of cooperative mode—that it’s all of us working together. So it would be somewhat analogous to John Cleese saying, “Oh, by the way, this is my show, and you guys work for me.” The rest of the Pythons would have probably taken exception with that."
- "Basically, we got to this conclusion that whatever Joel thought the show was at the beginning, it now didn’t function that way. And so Joel had a choice of what he wanted to do about it. And ultimately he chose to leave the show."
- "If you go through whatever’s archived on the web, you’ll see right away that the fans divided into the Joel camp versus the Mike camp. But at the end of the day, the bulk of the show was making fun of bad movies, and that didn’t change at all."
- "We didn’t cost Comedy Central that much money, and we got a lot of press. So for many years, we had immunity because of that. Ultimately, though, the network started getting a sense of who it wanted to be, and that didn’t include us in the formulation."
- Jim Mallon at the Internet Movie Database
- Jim Mallon bio at Satellite News
- WIRED Magazine|Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Definitive Oral History of a TV Masterpiece