Pee-wee Herman was a beloved, if eccentric and odd, character Paul Reubens played for many years, and his "Pee-wee's Playhouse" series and "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" and "Big Top Pee-wee" feature films spawned a small, devoted group of followers who to this day still feel loyal to the pinched-voice man-boy.
So much so that when Will Russell decided to throw a "Pee-Wee Over Louisville" day to honor the character and comedian the Facebook page announcing the event quickly drew over 4,000 fans.
The fans are now undoubtedly disappointed. According to the Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, Russell received a cease and desist letter from Reubens, requesting that the event be canceled. Russell obliged, and now the peeweeoverlouisville.com event page reads simply: "This event has been cancelled. Paul Reubens a/k/a Pee-wee Herman will not be at the event and has never agreed to be at or endorse this festival. Pee-Wee Over Louisville is not and never was affiliated with Paul Reubens a/k/a Pee-wee Herman."
A similar message went up on the Facebook page and drew over 150 comments.
Russell is a co-creator of the annual "Lebowski Fest" (based on the 1998 film "The Big Lebowski") which started in Louisville in 2002 and has spread around the country. Stars from the film have attended various "Lebowski" events, embracing the film's cult appeal.
The Pee-wee event was to have included a dance-off (in the style of Herman, of course) and a marching band.
In an interview with WFPL Radio's web page, Russell says he went through the proper channels. "I reached out to his office prior to launching the event and stated that I wanted to do it in a way that he was comfortable with," he said.
After receiving no response, he moved forward last December, and in March got a call from Reubens, who put him in touch with his office.
"They stated that they wanted to help me in any way they could," he said. "After working with them for a couple months, it became clear they were going to object. I offered any compromise I could think of including changing the event title, the graphics and offering to set up a licensing/royalty deal and/or donate any proceeds to a charity of their choice."
The cease and desist letter arrived May 21, but Russell remains undaunted.
"I think fans have the right to celebrate what they love and this could have been really great," he said. "I still have hope that maybe down the road we can find a way to make this work.