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David Wain and Michael Showalter's Wet Hot Netflix Summer

David Wain and Michael Showalter bring cult comedy classic "Wet Hot American Summer" to Netflix with their new prequel series.

One of the more intriguing entries in Netflix's new, ever-growing roster of original series is "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp," a prequel to the cult classic comedy from "The State" alums David Wain and Michael Showalter — and featuring a before-they-were-stars cast the likes of Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, all of whom are back for the new series.

Were there any reservations about doing a prequel with the same actors almost 15 years later?
MICHAEL SHOWALTER: No, that was an asset. In our mind that was part of the fun of it, was the joke being we were too old then, we’re way too old now, and instead of making our characters older, we made them younger.
DAVID WAIN: It’s surprising how much you stop paying attention to it.
MS: One of the big movies from our childhood was "Grease," with John Travolta and Olivia Newton­-John, who are playing high school ... I don’t even think they’re seniors.
DW: They’re seniors.
MS: They are? They’re definitely seniors?
DW: They’re seniors in high school.
MS: And I mean, they’re fully adult in that movie. Like, Olivia Newton­-John is like in her late 30s. But I mean that was sort of our inspiration casting­wise. Because you don’t care.

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How much have you paid attention to the film's die-hard fans and what they want to see from exploring more of these characters?
DW: To me, I don’t think we’re like literally serving the fans per ­se, but I do think we are very caring of this group of characters and what it is and care about it as fans ourselves of it in a way. And it’s very important to us to make something that satisfies the fans’ desire for more of this, while at the same time not doing any sort of retread and that was what we were trying to do.

What about the new additions to the cast?
DW:We have Lake Bell. Jason Schwartzman plays one of the head counselors. Lake Bells plays [Showalter's character] Coop’s girlfriend who just got back from a trip to Israel. We have Michael Cera and John Hamm and Chris Pine all playing roles that are too surprising to tell you more about. We have Michaela Watkins playing a choreographer for the big musical that happens later that day. John Slattery is playing the guest director of the musical. Kristen Wiig, Josh Charles, [even I] make an appearance as an Israeli counselor who poses a threat to Coop.
MS:Yeah David’s character and my characters and Lake Bell’s character are in sort of like a love triangle.

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Without getting into actual figures, how did the budget for this compare to the original film?
DW:I think it was $75 million per episode.
MS:We had "Avengers"­type numbers. It was an embarrassment of budget. It was so much budget that were just giving people bags of money on the way out.
DW:Basically when you had lunch on set, you could have brownies or you could have Arnold Palmers or just a bag of money. Or all three if you want, if you’re that hungry.

That sounds delicious.
DW:
Basically the process of doing it was very similar to the original movie, even though in some ways it’s obviously different. We’re 15 years older and a million things have happened in our careers, but the actual going back to it was like a total mind-trip.
MS:We didn’t sleep in bunks. When we made the original, we slept in bunks.
DW:Yeah, we slept in the cabins and ate the camp food.
MS:Well, we eventually we stopped eating camp food.
DW:On the original movie the camp cooks made the food for the crew, but it was so bad that even our low­budget, young, hungry crew was like...
MS:“I can’t eat this.”

Has revisiting these characters broughtup any ideas for other properties or characters you'vecreated over the years that you'd like to go back to?
DW: I think I’m done creating new stuff. I think it's time to juststart going back and doing a "Stella" reboot and revisit all the charactersfrom "They Came Together," "Role Models," "Wainy Days." Let's do it.
Anything from "The State" you can make a movie out of?
DW: Sure, totally. "The Doug Movie."
MS: Let’s not go that far.
DW: As Michael and others from way back will tease me about, I’ma big fan of everything I’ve done.
MS: I don’t tease you.
DW: But for me, truthfully, I would happily do more "Wainy Days," I would domore "Stella," I would do the sequel to "Role Models" or "Wanderlust" or any of it.
And for yourself, Michael?
MS: I don’t know if me doing a "WainyDays" project is necessarily in my future. Or "Role Models"or "Wanderlust" for that matter, but I think it'd be great if David didit.
DW: Well, what about a sequel to "The Baxter"?
MS: Oh, to "The Baxter," well now... I don’t know, I really don’t.

And this is going to be released in the usual Netflix style?
MS: All at once.Worldwide.
DW: We suggest you have a big party, in your house or wherever you want,and invite everybody over and watch the whole damn thing.
MS: The whole damn thing.
A lot of people have talked about how Netflix has created thisinteresting way to approach shows...
DW: I have come up with a little nickname for it: "binge-watching."
That’s good.Maybe it will catch on.
DW: I’m going to tweet it probably tomorrow.
People tend to decide for themselves how quickly to watch, but do youhave an optimal way to watch the show? Other thanthrow a big party?
DW: Weirdly, as silly and cuckoo and absurd as the humor is, thereactually is a pretty funstory to follow that takes you through all the episodes. But I thinkit works either way, you can watch one a week if you want. But, youknow, I don’t think there’s a recommended ...
MS: I think people are gonna burn through them.
DW: I think a lot of people are going to watch it as a four-hourmovie.
MS: Or it’s like a two- or three-day thing, depending on how much timeyou have.
DW: It’s like a book you can’t put down.
MS: We definitely intentionally crafted the episodes so that you areneeding to watch the next episode to find out what’s going on.
DW: We certainly wrote it from the ground up andconceived it knowing that at least some people would watch it all atonce.
MS: Yeah. I don’t know if they put it in any of the press materials,but it’s not a comedy. It’s a thriller.
DW: It’s a documentary.
MS: It’s a documentary thriller, like "The Jinx."
DW: It’s a documentary about very obscure Cold War paperwork.
MS: Like "The Jinx."
I thought that was the clear subtext of the movie that was neverreally fleshed out.
DW: We call it "Wet Hot American Summer" because of the accords inGeneva in the summer of '81 when they tried to hammer out some of thepost-­Vietnam repairs.
Obviously, that’s what kids love.
DW: Obviously.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter:@nedrick

 

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