|Media Blitz Gives Mixed Future of Home Brew|
|Bob and Doug McKenzie||April 6, 2000 @7:30pm EDT|
Four articles in Sun newspapers across Canada on the Canadian Comedy Awards (hosted by Dave Thomas) all report a slightly different future for Strange Brew II (aka Home Brew). They have one thing in common, and it looks like the sequel is a no go for now. Here's some selected quotes from Dave:
"I don't know if it will get on again."
"There are more than 100 web sites devoted to Bob & Doug. But try and sell that to the Royal Bank of Canada. They'd rather finance some drug deal out of the Cayman Islands."
"I'd like to get all the people who really loved that movie to write to the financing companies, but I can't get organized enough."
Thursday, April 6, 2000 The laughs are on us SCTV's Dave Thomas hosts first Canadian Comedy Awards By MIKE ROSS (Edmonton Sun) Dave Thomas agreed to host the first Canadian Comedy Awards on one condition - that Bill Needle do the opening monologue. Needle, the acerbic critic's critic Thomas created for the SCTV television series, is expected to have his own take on, "Oh, no, not another awards show. Gimme a break." With people like Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Rick Mercer and Bruce McCulloch among the top nominees - plus Edmonton's own Die-Nasty soap opera - it airs Friday at midnight on CTV (Cable 2). The "unedited" version will air Sunday at 9 p.m. on the Comedy Network (Cable 34, 41). Mr. Needle will start with "an absolutely vitriolic pan of awards shows," Thomas says, lapsing slightly into Needle-speak on the phone from his office in Los Angeles. "Specifically a Canadian Comedy Awards, like anybody needs to see one of those." Still, this promises to be different than your usual awards show. Shorter, too, we hope. "It's probably more of a comedy show than an awards show," Thomas says. "I don't know where the show will be five years from now, if they're still doing them and I hope they are, but it's certainly valid to start off this way. We're going to try to be different. Instead of having people come up in tuxedos and thank everyone for a piece of plastic they get to put on their mantel, we're going to make it into bits, sketches and routines and keep it off-centre. Here's the way I look at it: When this is on, you're going to have a choice between this or Cops or some maudlin Barbara Walters interview. I think it's as valid as anything on TV. Let's give it a shot and see where it goes." Where "it," meaning Canadian comedy, has been going lately is straight to America. One gets the feeling that Thomas is part of a sinister cabal of frostback funnymen who have infiltrated Hollywood. Like they said on the McCarthyism spoof Canadian Conspiracy, "Lorne Greene. Green card. Coincidence?" We think not. Thomas points out there are three guys who can get a movie made in Hollywood at the moment: Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey and Mike Myers. Note that two of them are Canadian. "There ya go," Thomas chuckles gleefully. "We got two-thirds of the market at the highest level." As for this SCTV alumnus, his role in the ongoing Canadian quest to subvert the American comedy industry will soon take an interesting twist. Thomas is launching a comedy Internet site in three months, inspired by a startling realization he had while surfing: The Net isn't funny. Alleged humour sites are often larded with bad jokes that turn out to have been pulled from back issues of Hustler magazine. "I found all kinds of sites that said they were comedy and they weren't funny," Thomas says. "And I thought, gee, it would be great if there was a real funny site out there instead of something that just sucks." Fellow Canadian comedy conspirators Mike Myers, Martin Short and Dan Aykroyd are involved, along with writers from The Simpsons, SCTV, David Letterman, Jay Leno and Saturday Night Live. The site will be simple, easy to load (no stupid animations) and refreshed daily. "We're not trying to sell it as TV. These are short, short bits. They're little things you can't do on TV and don't sustain as a program. I've been in writer's rooms for so many years where I've seen great ideas that once they're pounded, even into a sketch form, they're already too long and they have a beginning that doesn't quite work and an ending that doesn't work. "Head writers in many sketch offices will say, 'yeah, yeah, that's a good idea, go write it up,' and what they mean by that is go build a cathedral of unfunny structure around something that already is funny. The audience can see through that. So there has to be a place where you can put those funny ideas. "These guys have tons of ideas they've never been able to put in shows. Some of them are blue and don't fit the censorship of TV and some don't fit the format of shows. Now there's a home for these things - finally." ============ Thursday, April 6, 2000 Northern laughs Awards show spotlights best and brightest Canadian comics By LISA WILTON (Calgary Sun) Why are Canadians so damn funny? It's a question that has been asked by many, but answered by few. Even Dave Thomas, one of Canada's most respected comic talents of the past 25 years, doesn't have a clue. "I have a theory, but like all theories, it could be bull," says Thomas, who is hosting the first-ever Canadian Comedy Awards in Toronto tonight. The show will air tomorrow at midnight on CTV and at 10 p.m. Sunday on The Comedy Network. "There is a kind of objectivity to not actually being in the States, but being in the front row seats on the border, that allows us to view the largest pop culture in the history of civilization and comment on it," says Thomas. "I think remoteness is kind of the key ingredient to comic observation." CCA nominees include Calgary's own improv queen Rebecca Northan, nominated in the female improviser category, and marionette master Ronnie Burkett, who is competing in the new playwriting category. As well, international superstars Jim Carrey and Mike Myers are competing against each other for the best on-screen male performance. The awards honour those in several fields of Canadian comedy, such as standup, improv, film, stage and writing. Guests will include stars of Air Farce, Twitch City, Double Exposure and This Hour has 22 Minutes, as well as a short video courtesy of Mike Myers. While Thomas was flattered when asked to host, he let it be known he would only do it if he could play his embittered SCTV character, Bill Needle. "I said I'd do it provided I could play the critic and pan the show at the top," he explains. "They said yeah, so I went, 'Well OK, they've got a good sense of humour about themselves if they're going to allow me to do that.'" Even though SCTV -- which parodied and skewered everything that was holy in TV land -- signed off almost 20 years ago, there is still a strong cult following thanks to regular syndicated reruns. Although there were dozens of unforgettable characters created on SCTV, two of the most beloved are Thomas and Rick Moranis' hoser heroes, Bob and Doug McKenzie. "Rick and I have found out that the Bob and Doug thing has a huge cult following," says Thomas during a phone interview from his Maple Palm Productions office in Los Angeles. "There are more than 100 internet fan sites devoted to the McKenzie Brothers. That's a lot." As for the much-talked-about sequel to the 1983 McKenzie Brothers film Strange Brew, Thomas says it's a no-go for the moment. The sequel was set to start filming last year, but funding problems stalled the project indefinitely. "I don't know if it will get on again," Thomas says. "We've been trying to take the independent route, but we haven't taken it to many studios. "I'd like to get all the people who really loved that movie to write to the financing companies, but I can't get organized enough." ============ Thursday, April 6, 2000 Awards bring on clowns By IAN NATHANSON (Ottawa Sun) Seems someone has been toying with SCTV hoser Doug MacKenzie, and Dave Thomas wants to know about it. "You've seen it? I haven't even seen it yet," Thomas says phoning in from his production office in Los Angeles. He's referring to the palm-sized Doug McKenzie doll which Calgary-based Todd MacFarlane Productions will be putting on the market soon, along with his brother Bob, the character immortalized by Thomas' SCTV partner Rick Moranis. "I caught a glimpse of the Bob McKenzie doll, and that one looks a lot like Rick," Thomas says with a laugh. One of Canada's famous comedic talents, Thomas is flying to host the first Canadian Comedy Awards, which get underway tonight in Toronto. "I was reluctant to do it at first, but when they presented it as an 'out-of-the-ordinary' awards show, I told them I was game," Thomas says. The proceedings, which will air on CTV tomorrow at midnight and again Sunday night at 7 on the Comedy Network, includes nominations for "the new writing stuff down so people can perform it" award (new playwriting), and the awards -- gilded beavers on pedestals -- will be presented in the format of jokes, comedy sketches and improvisation. Actor/writer Don MacKellar earned the widest variety of Canadian Comedy Awards nominations, running the gamut from movies (direction for Last Night), to television (writing for his series Twitch City) to theatre (writing for The Drowsy Chaperone). This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Made In Canada and CBC's Comics are all vying for television awards. And the standup comedians list talents such as Ron James, Derek Edwards and Ottawa native Terry McGurrin. The film awards categories feature notable faces such as Jim Carrey and Mike Myers who, like Thomas, had to fly south in order to gain better notoriety. Thomas, however, knows all too well there can also be a few kicks-in-the-pants. Recently, financial arrangements for a possible Strange Brew sequel fell through, much to Thomas' dismay. And he says his life on the set of the TV sitcom Grace Under Fire, starring Brett Butler, wasn't a barrel of laughs, either. "She was very difficult to work with," Thomas says. "She wanted to be in control of everything. But hey, we were well paid, so I can't complain too much." Thomas is currently planning to launch an all-star comedy website with help from writers from The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live. ============ Thursday, April 6, 2000 Thomas hangs tough Comic laughs his way through setbacks and challenges By JIM SLOTEK (Toronto Sun) It's been a tough year, but Dave Thomas has kept his sense of humour. All he has to do is turn on the news. "Stuff that everybody takes seriously just makes me laugh," says Thomas, who's in town to host the first Canadian Comedy Awards at the Masonic Temple tonight. "Like the stock market. They've coined the term 'the old economy' as opposed to 'the new economy' -- which spells doom for glass, steel, automotive parts -- all things we don't need anymore because they're 'old' economy," he says with a laugh. The profound absurdities of big money should probably depress Thomas -- what with his experience last year trying to produce Home Brew, a sequel to the Bob and Doug McKenzie flick Strange Brew. A week before filming in Toronto, financing fell through. A lawsuit against his Canadian partners in the film was resolved -- perhaps not satisfactorily as far as Thomas is concerned, but resolved nonetheless. The upshot is that Thomas has to come up with more than US$700,000 one way or another to cover debts. He hopes to make it up with a movie he's written and plans to direct, starring the suddenly rediscovered Chevy Chase. But Home Brew appears to be history. "There are more than 100 Web sites devoted to Bob & Doug. But try and sell that to the Royal Bank Of Canada. They'd rather finance some drug deal out of the Cayman Islands," he snarks over the phone from his Maple Palms production company in L.A. Meanwhile, investors are apparently lining up to finance his next project, an online comedy Web site for which he's already lined up buddies Rick Moranis and Paul Shaffer, A-list comics like Rick Overton and most of the writing staff of The Simpsons. Expect to find it on your browser in three months. So why is it he can find money for a Web site and none for a viable commodity like Bob & Doug? "Y'know why? Old economy -- new economy, need I say more? It boils down to two words, dot-com. Throw them around and you get money." Thomas reckons he's spent more of his life trying to get money than concentrating on comedy. "Even at SCTV, I was always out with Andrew Alexander trying to line up cash. That show was always in trouble," says Thomas, who started in advertising before moving to the fledgling Toronto Second City. "After that, I was selling wacky ideas to NBC and ABC." So he's got some sympathy for the young comics-cum-salesmen who'll be given some overdue kudos at tonight's Comedy Awards. The event, featuring standups, actors, improv and sketch artists from across the country (more than 100 in 22 categories), will be broadcast in edited form tomorrow on CTV and in its entirety Sunday on the Comedy Network. "I got called by the producer (Tim Progosh, best known as Farouz the wizard on the Sinbad series) and he said, 'We're doing the Canadian Comedy Awards and we'd like you to host.' And I said 'Yeah, like the world needs another awards show.' Anyway, he was quite relentless, so I kind of tested him and said I'd do this provided I can open as Bill Needle and pan the show.' And he said 'Sure,' so I figure okay, they've got a sense of humour. "I know some of the acts, but a lot of them I don't know for reasons of geography. I've always had a hand in helping younger comics. My ex-wife Pam brought the Kids In The Hall to Lorne (Michaels), and I hired Mike Myers for my CBS summer series before he was on SNL. "I mean if you think about the fact that the top three comedy stars are Adam Sandler, Mike Myers and Jim Carrey, and two-thirds are Canadian, there's an argument for having a Canadian comedy awards show right there."
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