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Rights to Jonathan Winters mockumentary for sale on EBay

When a documentary-turned mockumentary about the late comic great Jonathan Winters debuted in 2011, it didn't go far commercially.

So what could "Certifiably Jonathan" producers Richard Marshall and Matt Fortnow do with hundreds of hours of unused footage, thousands of DVDs and multiple boxes of merchandise? 

Try to sell everything, rights and all, on (what else?) EBay. 

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The filmmakers originally set out to chronicle the painting career of Winters, who during his half-century-career hosted his own variety shows, made numerous appearances on "The Tonight Show" and costarred in "Mork & Mindy." Movie roles included "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" and "The Loved One." He was famous for his manic flights of improvisation, mimicry and sound effects, making him an inspiration for the likes of Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Lily Tomlin.

Winters died in 2013 at the age of 87.

In keeping with the Winters' madcap style, the project took on a life of its own and began to incorporate fictional elements. Sarah Silverman, Robin Williams, Howie Mandel, Nora Dunn, Ryan Stiles and all five Arquette siblings make appearances, as do Carrey, Robert Klein and Tim Conway. 

The EBay listing reads like a paradise for a film nut-turned-hoarder. The package includes all rights to the final feature film, over 200 hours of raw footage, all signed actor releases, 13,000 retail DVDs of "Certifiably Jonathan," three large boxes of "Certifiably Jonathan" T-shirts and the movie's website and Facebook page. 

When Marshall first posted the listing, the online auction site blocked it -- but then came around.

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"When I explained to them what we were doing, they thought it was cool," he said. "It's kind of a crazy experiment." 

So who would buy the whole set? Maybe someone who wants to take another crack at telling Winters' story -- or perhaps a collector or a serious fan.

"Everything you need to start an award winning documentary, archival, or mini series project on the brilliant Jonathan Winters," the page says. "Or just something to collect and preserve." 

The asking bid is $199,000, though the filmmakers said they don't know what to expect from the process because, to their knowledge, an EBay auction for movie rights has never happened before. EBay did not provide comment for this story.  

The unconventional mock-doc received generally poor reviews. It played at festivals and went straight to video on-demand and DVD. Still, it has managed to find a cult following, Fortnow said, adding, "There are tons of Jonathan Winters fans out there and the Facebook page keeps growing and growing." 

The movie was made for $1.2 million and took years to shoot and put together. Winters would film a bit in the morning and afternoon, with sessions split up by lunch breaks that could last three hours alone -- because he would break out into comedic improvisations to entertain fellow patrons, Marshall said.

"So many magical things happened," Marshall said. 

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ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

Twitter: @rfaughnder

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