Q&A for Chris “Sampo” Cornell, author of the MSTiepedia books

mst3k q&a sampo

Q&A for Chris “Sampo” Cornell, author of the MSTiepedia books

1. What was your first experience with MST3K?

Like most people, I found it channel surfing. But there’s a backstory. Many years before, when the woman who became my wife and I were still dating, we were hanging out in my wife’s apartment with a couple of friends. On our little portable black-and-white TV was a movie called “Women of the Prehistoric Planet.” We got high, settled into the sofa and watched, and essentially did what MST3K does, cracking each other up with funny remarks (or they seemed funny at the time, anyway). It was a golden memory of a laughter-rich afternoon. Years later, that lady had become my wife and there was a baby in the back room. I was watching a much larger TV, and surfing the channels, when I happened upon that same movie. The memory of the previous viewing came back to me and it was then that I noticed those silhouettes at the bottom of the screen, and how funny they were … I knew this was a show for me.

2. What was your first communications with Best Brains?

Well, they put the mailing address on the screen during the show, and when they did I scrambled for paper and a pen and scribbled it down. Then I did something I never did, before or after: I wrote a fan letter to a TV show. I received back a personalized letter and I was informed that I was fan club member #48. Yes, I was a two-digit fan club member.

3. What’s your favorite episode?

[In a high-pitched Mr. B Natural voice] They’re members of my family, boy! I love ‘em all! Seriously, I do enjoy all of them, but I’ve said in the book that if I had to pick one desert island favorite I would have to pick “The Violent Years.” Great riffing, great host segments, everything just clicks.

4. What’s your background?

I was born in Frankfurt, Germany while my American parents were living overseas. I grew up suburban Philadelphia. In high school I joined forces with other students to create a comedy group. I received a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Temple University — just in time for magazines around the globe to go out of business. I’m married with one adult child. Most recently I was an editor for a number of neighborhood newspapers owned by the Times Tribune in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I retired to 2019.

5. You have a long-running MST3K web site?

Yes, Satellite News, at MST3Kinfo.com was founded in 1997. It features daily updates and news about MST3K, its cast — current and former — and crew.

6. The site updates daily with birthdays and death days of thousands of people who worked on the 200+ movies that have been featured on the show. That seems like a lot of work.

Yes, that’s where my years of news reporting experience comes in. It helps keep all the information organized and reported correctly.

7. And those skills are in use for this book, “MSTiepedia”?

Yes, I’ve been following and reporting on the cast and crew for decades now and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. But I’ve also had help. First and foremost its from my web site partner, Brian Henry, who does so much of the technical stuff for the site. There are also some other regular contributors who keep me honest.

8. Who are these people on the cover of the book.

They’re pals and former acquaintances of mine. The pictures were taken at various gatherings we’ve had over the years, where we rent a hotel room and riff on bad movies. Sometimes cast members dropped by.

9. What’s the black and white image in the top right?

It’s a copy of ad in Variety that the fans paid for to beg producers to consider picking up the show after it was cancelled.

10. Joel or Mike or Jonah or Emily?


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