The Lord of the Universe

1974, 58:27 min, b&w and color, sound

Awarded the Alfred I. du Pont/Columbia University Award in Broadcast Journalism, The Lord of the Universe is a forceful expose on the sixteen-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji and the national gathering of his followers at the Houston Astrodome — Millennium 73, billed as the "most significant event in the history of humanity." With a scathing economy, TVTV lays bare the corruption and hypocrisy of the Maharaj Ji and his entourage, showing the guru as he dispenses pseudo-mystical knowledge to his true believers, led by former antiwar activist Rennie Davis. TVTV's use of portable video equipment afforded them access to the guru's entourage and the duped devotees of the new religion, faded flower children whose yearning for order and meaning seem emblematic of the nation's disaffection and uncertainty in the Watergate and Vietnam era. In typically ironic sequences, TVTV captures the ecstasy of young people given petals from the guru's garland, and the Elvis-like posturing of the guru's older brother as he leads his band Blue Aquarius in an R&B rendition of Satisfaction. In the last word on the events, a cynical Abbie Hoffman comments, "If this guy is God, this is the God the United States of America deserves."

Production: Wendy Appel, Skip Blumberg, Bill Bradbury, John Brumage, Steve Christiansen, Paul Goldsmith, Stanton Kaye, John Keeler, Anda Korsts, Harry Mathias, Doug Michels, Tom Morey, Rita Ogden, Tom Richmond, Van Schley, Jodi Sibert, Elon Soltes, Akio Yamaguchi. Editors: Wendy Appel Hudson Marquez, Rita Ogden, Allen Rucker, Michael Shamberg, Elon Soltes. A TVTV production in association with the TV Lab at WNET/Thirteen. Producer: David Loxton. Supervising Engineer/Videotape Editor: John J. Godfrey.