Great music... great sound.. but too much fiction.
The first thing you need to know before watching this 1999 made-for-TV film which was broadcast on NBC (you can actually see where the story pauses for commercials) is that at the END of the credits which follow the film is the following phrase : "Certain characters and events are fictionalized". Know that going in and you'll still have a good time, if you know the real facts. I'm guessing this film was made to attract the younger audience that made "Grease" a mega-hit, and not those who lived during Freed's all too brief life (which I was lucky to personally experience). (He died in his mid 40s).
Not only are neither of the radio stations he worked for in both Cleveland and New York given fictitious names. (Couldn't they get the rights?), but many of the records played on the soundtrack - and there are way more than 50 (though all only excerpts) show up in the timeline -2-3 years before their actual chart date. The film uses original recordings and has the actors (all basically unknowns - with the exception of Leon - he has no last name - who plays Jackie Wilson) lip synching the lyrics. The actor (whose name I forget) channeling Jerry Lee Lewis is by far the best.
Seeing that they needed more name recognition than star Judd Nelson (who plays Freed but neither looks like him nor uses Freed's phrasing) the Director brings in Paula Abdul to play a songwriter who has a sleep-in with Freed late in the film. During the opening credits you will see - IN BIG LETTERS - "Special appearances by Bobby Rydell and Fabian" (neither of who, during their careers, was part of Freed's big stars, since they were Philly-based and loyal to Dick Clark). Well, don't blink or you will miss them. They each have one line at the beginning as conservative White parents who are made at the "race music" Free began playing.
So, if you are looking for facts, PLEASE look elsewhere. Its almost impossible - unless you know Freed's real story - to know what events ARE true.
But as a fluff music that will bring back memories, this is a fun film to watch. I was really impressed by the sound quality, which was sharp and clear.
If you want to see the real Freed's in action, but know that you are seeing fiction (though no less than this film's details), check out the similarly titled "Mister Rock and Roll" (note the spekking differences in the first and third words) from 1957, that stars the real Freed and the REAL artists whose careers he helped launch. (Funny, didn't Nelson get to see this before making this film? He would have known how Freed sounded.)
By the way, there are no special features included and, since it was a TV film, not even a trailer.