Posts tagged with “Reno 911!”

Talkin’ with … ‘Reno 911!’ Star, ‘The State’ Alum and Hollywood Screenwriter Thomas Lennon

We’ll always have our Reno 911! DVDs, but since Comedy Central’s surprise cancellation of the show last year, there’s been an unfortunate dearth of Thomas Lennon on the tube.

Hopefully, that’ll change soon enough, as Lennon and his fellow Reno star and screenwriting partner Ben Garant will soon film the pilot for Alabama, a sci-fi spoof sitcom that’s been ordered by FX.

Lennon, who started earning a devoted fan base as a member of the ’90s comedy troupe The State, has since co-written the scripts for the A Night at the Museum movies, was a scene-stealing performer in flicks like 17 Again and I Love You, Man and, of course, starred as Lt. Jim Dangle, the Reno sheriff whose shorts belong in the Smithsonian next to Fonzie’s jacket and Archie Bunker’s chair.

While working on one of his many upcoming projects, Lennon was kind enough to take time to chat on the phone and, later, via e-mail, about Alabama, his baby boy, his love of Twitter and viral videos, the TV shows and stars that make him laugh, the dangers of working with baby actors, the genius of Steve Carell and Harold & Kumar, whether or not he’s related to a certain Beatle and, of course, the Reno 911! porn spoof.

Hi, Tom!
Kiiiiiim Poootttttts. Hi, Kim. How are you?

Haha, I’m good, Tom, how are you?

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat today. It’s nice to talk with you again.
Are you kidding? Of course, my pleasure.

So, what are you working on today, which of your many projects?
Today I am working on what will go down as maybe one of the most important films of a generation. It’s called A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas.

In 3D.
In 3D. I basically took a long look in the mirror, and said, ‘Tom, it’s time that you do a film that’s really important, a film …’ What I needed was a clip for when I die so they can show at the Oscars.

So this is your Oscar clip?
Well, please, everyone make a note when you see me in Harold & Kumar in 3D, this film was intended to be my Oscar death clip. As you see me getting splashed with poop in 3D or any of the other terrible things that happen to me in 3D on this film … I won’t spoil too many of them.

Is that really one of the things that happens to you in this movie?
Probably. You know, more than almost any actor working today, one of my specialties seems to be scenes where poop gets splashed on me.

That’s a Tom Lennon specialty?
You know, I guess I should add it on my résumé. Although, I don’t really need to add it on my résumé. Just look at any film that I’m in these days, and you’ll notice I tend to get splashed with some sort of poop. I was going to be a serious actor at some point.

Well, you are playing a family man.
Yes, I play a … my character in Harold & Kumar … I’m just going to say 3D because it’s so much shorter … has a two-year-old daughter. And if you haven’t worked with a two-and-a-half-year-old in a film yet, I highly don’t recommend it. It is absolutely as hard as everyone says.

Was this your first time working that closely with a kid that age?
With a baby? Yeah, I guess so. I’ve worked with a chimp a couple of times, which is scary in its own way, because the chimp once in a while will just look at you like it’s going to kill you. The baby is more just screaming and crying and pooping. But it keeps you on your toes, because when you’re working with a two-year-old, you know that when the camera’s rolling, you really only have a couple of minutes to do everything you need to do while the baby will be cool. So in a weird way, it really makes you bring your A-game.

But you’re a new dad. You’re a recent new dad …
I am. My son just turned 13-and-a-half months old.


So you’re used to having various bodily fluids fly at you.
Oh my God, yeah. It’s really nothing but. Yeah. Right now, I’m just chasing a poop machine most of the time, and he just learned how to run, so it’s a lot of fun.

What’s his name?
My son’s name is Oliver.

Oh, that’s a cool name.
Yeah, it is cool. We went old-timey.

It sounds classic, though.
He’s 13 1/2 months old, and he’s actually kind of an okay harmonica player so far. I mean, he’s not amazing. He’s not John Popper from Blues Traveler, but he’s better than a lot of baby harmonica players, I would say.

So tell me about the new show, Alabama, which everybody is really excited about, and I think especially because you guys are going to be at FX now, which just seems like the perfect place for you.
It really does seem like the perfect place. I’m a big fan of their shows. I certainly really love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And here’s the thing. We took the show out to a lot of different places. Pretty much every place we took it wanted it, which certainly was exciting and felt good. But we also knew that with (FX president John) Landgraf, it was just like, you know, FX was doing exactly the kind of shows that we want to do these days, and he’s exactly the kind of guy we want to be working for. So the concept really is basically sort of a gritty … we want the show to look and feel as if it’s shot on a working spaceship in space.

Sort of like the very beginning of Alien. You know, where everything is sort of leaking and everybody’s sweaty and in tank tops, and the ship is not like a pristine, cool spaceship. The ship is like a dirty, you know, Navy battleship that’s been out for way too long. And for some reason, there’s only two policies on the ship: No one’s supposed to have sex with any of their fellow officers, and everyone has to shower together due to space issues. So it basically … oh, and we sort of sleep in bunks in shifts. So it’s basically a show about forbidden love with people that you’re sleeping two inches away from and showering with all the time.

It’s being described as ‘Reno 911!-meets-Star Trek.’ Is that at all accurate?
I would say it’s a little more Reno meets … not that I’m not a Star Trek fan, but I think we’re looking more like, the new Battlestar Galactica. We’re sort of looking more towards the new wave of sci-fi shows, I think. To us, in our minds, what we really want the show to look like is Reno 911!-meets-Das Boot … do you remember Das Boot?

I know about it, but haven’t seen it.
It was a film, it was a really brilliant film, about a World War II Nazi U-boat. And it is the most claustrophobic, soaking wet, high-tension thing you’ve ever seen. So the look and feel of (Alabama) is Reno 911! in a space submarine, basically.

Awesome! And have you cast the show yet?
Not at all. There are certainly people that we’re thinking about that we’d love to work with. There’s obviously myself and Ben, playing roles in the show. We have been in some discussions with Natasha Leggero to play our government-authorized sex robot who’s on the ship. We were thinking, because of all the sexual tension, that the government issued us a sex robot to have. But many, many years ago, so it’s now been … so the first three weeks with the sex robot was probably like a really awesome time and a great idea, but now, the honeymoon is kind of over. She’s kind of like everybody’s ex-girlfriend on the ship now, and she knows way too much about us.

Excellent! And will you likely cast any of the Reno people?
I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point during the run of the show, I don’t know if the full-time crew will be too many of the Reno people, but I know during the run of the show, I’m sure everyone from Reno will play aliens and monsters and space princesses and things like that. But no, it might be a slightly larger crew than Reno, too. I think we might just start with a slightly bigger crew.

Well, speaking of Reno, it was such a surprise when Comedy Central cancelled the show. It seemed very abrupt, and I remember reading your Twitter response, and it seemed like it came as a surprise to you, too.
I’ll be honest, I still to this day don’t really know why Reno was cancelled. The show always performed pretty well. It’s syndicated around the world. It has a pretty big fan base. I’ve never really known. And it was a show that I really loved a lot, but, you know, in a weird way I think it was a … a sort of left-handedly good thing for us, to get us out and doing something else. And of course, we spent the last year working on a pilot for NBC, which was a sitcom, which was an absolute waste of time.

That’s The Strip, right? It sounded like such a great premise (a former child star opens a theme restaurant in Vegas).
Oh my God. It was ten months of my life down the toilet. They’re lovely people at NBC … (but) I think we were sort of a little bit of an experiment at NBC, where they could see, like, ‘Hey, what do we think about multi-camera sitcoms?’ And the answer is, ‘Oh, we don’t like them!’ (Laughing). So yeah, it feels good to be sort of getting back in our … cable is where we belong, I think. Our tone is a little weirder and a little darker, and our material lends itself. Honestly, literally you couldn’t custom-make a network better fitted to what our sense of humor and sensibility is right now than FX.

Yes, it’s actually surprising that you guys haven’t been there already.
Well, I think, you know, had the NBC thing not sort of swooped in for a little while, we certainly would have been at FX about a year ago probably, yeah.

And what about the concept of The Strip? I mean, it’s such a fun idea. Will you do anything else with it?
No, I don’t imagine we ever will. I mean, we’ve now made sort of two attempts in our career at doing primetime network sitcoms. One was called Hey, Neighbor, and the other was The Strip. And I suspect The Strip was probably the last time we will attempt. It’s just, you know, everything kind of gets done by committee, and it’s just not for us. It’s clearly not a good fit for us. You know, I’ve got to say, the weirdest thing about The Strip was how positive an experience it was, like it went great, it went great, it went great, everybody loved it, everybody loved it, everybody loved it … then we never heard from NBC again. (Laughing). That’s literally, exactly how it went. And it was like, it was pretty remarkably weird, yeah.

(It’s at this point that Tom is called back to the set, but he graciously agreed to answer the rest of my questions via e-mail, and, well, he is as talented a writer as he is a performer, of course, so, you know, more funny stuff ahead).

Reno 911! is more than a TV show … when a porn parody is made, you know you’ve sealed your place in pop culture. Were you surprised/amused when you found out about Reno 911! The XXX Movie?
I was more delighted than surprised. And I have to say, there are times (especially the movie of Reno 911!) where we come awfully close to being a porno anyway. I guess that’s the danger of spoofing something that doesn’t take itself seriously. Technically, their porno spoof is a spoof of OUR SPOOF of Cops. So it’s a spoof within a spoof. Then with an enormous wiener inside a Wiegel lookalike.

The Reno cast recently did a live Mystery Science Theater-ish event with the porn parody … is that something you might do again? (say, in NYC?)
That was probably a one-time event. We did it for charity, and we watched mostly the non-sex scenes. The sex scenes, which I have seen, are quite enthusiastic, but it would have been a little odd for me and Kerri Kenney to sit onstage and watch people PRETENDING to be us, while NOT PRETENDING to have sex.

As you prepare to start work on Alabama, and think about details like costumes, are you thinking carefully about what committing to Dangle’s shorts on Reno meant?
Of course, that hangs over me as we set out on the new show. The last character I played is a fairly popular Halloween costume. I have a lot to live up to. I am planning on some version of a slightly different moustache, for sure. I think America likes me with a moustache, and aw hell, I guess I kind of do, too.

Are you missing the shorts at all?
Not even for one second. Remember, the entire LENGTH of proper Lt. Dangle shorts is 11 inches, top to bottom. That’s tight. That’s really, really tight.

Do you look back at them now as one of the best or worst ideas of your career?
Best, obviously.

You’re a father now … is that a big new source of comedy material?
I more than anyone was surprised that six years in the shorts hadn’t totally destroyed my sperm count. And yes, there’s a lot of new material in my stand-up act about being a parent. But I’m also doing less stand-up, for now. Between movie roles and writing, I’m trying to not miss my boy growing up, which is happening pretty fast.

You’ve really embraced social media, and the Internet, with Twitter and your videos on … why?
Funny or Die is pretty much the greatest Website ever. I truly wonder, if a site like that had existed when I was younger, I’m not sure my group (The State) would have ever felt the need to get into TV. You can see funnier stuff there than most places on TV now, for sure. And Twitter is perfect for me, because I love to make short, filthy, weird comments.

In various places, by which I mean the discussion boards at IMDB (which are hilarious and weird), people have called for you to replace Steve Carell on The Office, star as Higgins in a Magnum P.I. movie and debated whether or not you’re related to John Lennon … the Carell idea sounds like a fun one, yes?
Funny because Steve Carell is a genius, filling in on that role for another genius, Ricky Gervais, who played it in the BBC version. I don’t think I’d want to be the third little Russian nesting doll to try to step into that position. The Office is one of my favorite shows, but I would never try to do something like that.

There’s no truth to the John Lennon theory, is there?
It’s actually entirely possible, although I feel like I look more like Paul. But there aren’t all that many Lennons in the world, and we tend to come from the same general area. My grandfather, Michael Lennon, was from just outside Athlone, Ireland. And there’s lots of Lennons in the west of Ireland, around Galway, where my current Irish relatives live. The Lennon motto is: ‘Prisco Stirpe Hibernico,’ which means something like ‘of ancient Irish stock.’ A little piece of trivia about me is that I have both U.S. and Irish citizenship.

And Higgins … ??? Do you think this originated because of the Lt. Dangle moustache?
Yes, and my droning, pretentious voice. But it’s a fantastic idea, and I’m in. What time and where?

You’re starring with Justin Timberlake in Bad Teacher … he’s shown some comedy skills hosting Saturday Night Live, but how is working with him on a movie?
Sadly, I have no scenes with him in Bad Teacher. All of my scenes are with Cameron Diaz. But in general, I find Timberlake hilarious. I just have to think about the way he moves his eyebrows in Motherlover to start laughing out loud. Really want to see the movie of those guys, I hope he and Andy Samberg are working on that. Bad Teacher looks very, very funny by the way.

I’m excited to see you, Eric Stonestreet and John Michael Higgins in the same movie (Bad Teacher). You’ve worked with most of the truly funny people in Hollywood at this point, between TV and movies … anyone still on your wish list of co-stars?
Steve Martin. My lifelong hero. Pretty much the reason I do what I do.

You joked earlier this year that Larry (Ben Stiller) would be working at the Liberace Museum in a third movie … What’s the status of a third Night at the Museum movie?
I’m not sure, honestly. There’s a script, and it’s probably my favorite script of the three. But there’s a million moving parts to get that movie happening. I truly hope it does, though. I love those films.

You and Ben co-write all your script projects. Why/how do you work so well together?
We’ve worked together pretty much every day since 1988. You have to let go of your ego. You have to have the same work ethic. We’re both compulsive writers, and pretty much workaholics. And, we never actually WRITE together. We outline together, then write separately, then re-write the other’s work as we build a script. Two people writing in the same room is almost impossible, and leads to a lot of stupid fights.

Your Jersey Shore spoof with Craig Ferguson on The Late, Late Show was great. Do you watch the show?
I’ve seen a handful of episodes, and loved every second of it.

You mentioned you’re a fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Any chance you might pop up on an episode? Especially now that you’re network family …
If they asked, sure. I love those guys.

What other TV shows do you watch regularly?
Mad Men. Breaking Bad. 30 Rock. The Office. Those are my ‘never miss’ ones.

Channel Surfing – January 21, 2010

All the tube news that’s fit to surf …

– Thursday nights will be, sadly, a little less cheesy when the first season of Jersey Shore comes to a close tonight (10PM ET, MTV). Snooki, we hardly knew ye (or what the heck ye was saying half the time). Meanwhile, two Joisey boys, filmmaker Kevin Smith and Time mag’s hilarious Joel Stein, are among the show’s many fans.

– It’s official: Conan‘s gone, Leno‘s back in at The Tonight Show. Sigh. O’Brien’s final Tonight Show will air Jan. 22.

– BTW, Leno in primetime tops Entertainment Weekly‘s list of the 50 Biggest TV Bombs Ever.

– Also gone from his latest series: Rob Lowe from the cast of Brothers & Sisters. The current season will be his last.

Another scandal on The Bachelor this season? Yup, and Bachelor Jake says it’s even bigger than Rozlyn allegedly hooking up with a producer or “emotional” Michelle getting bounced before the rose ceremony.

David Hasselhoff is starring in a new reality show, and no, it isn’t Celebrity Rehab. The Hoff will star in a 10-episode A&E series that finds him trying to help his daughters break into the music industry.

– Comedian Steve Harvey is taking over from J. Peterman, a.k.a. John O’Hurley, as host of Family Feud.

GQ has an interesting little chat with Damages/Bored to Death/Curb Your Enthusiasm star Ted Danson, who talks about how fun it is to play a jerk.

– My fellow Lifetime movie fans have no doubt seen the Betty Broderick movies, A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story and Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter, starring Family Ties mom Meredith Baxter as the San Diego socialite who murdered her ex-husband and his new wife in 1989. The real-life Broderick has her first parole hearing today.

– Famous celeb biographer Kitty Kelley, who’s penned bios on Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, the British royal family and the Bush family, will release a bio on Oprah Winfrey in April, based on more than 800 interviews she conducted (none with Winfrey herself).

– The Reno 911! crew is headed back to TV with a new NBC sitcom.

– And Billy Baldwin will play Serena’s (Blake Lively) papa on Gossip Girl.

Channel Surfing – October 14, 2009

All the tube news that’s fit to surf …

– The Reno 911! crew – some of them, at least – are heading back to the tube, in a new NBC sitcom Reno stars Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant are writing, producing and starring in.

Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is writing and producing a new dramedy for HBO. The show will revolve around three sisters 0 who are all writers and live in the same building – and their mother, a “literary lioness” who plays favorites with the sisters’ loser brother. Sounds like another show that will prove why TV is the best place for actresses to go these days.

– Nov. 17: The day Heather Locklear joins the new Melrose Place and maybe, maybe, the show becomes worth watching.

– Coming up on a very special SpongeBob SquarePants: The big yellow spongy lunk gets married.

– We Chuck fans want our favorite Nerd Herd-er and his cohorts back on the tube ASAP, but TV critic Alan Sepinwall makes some fine points about why an early Chuck return could actually spell doom for the show, which fans worked so hard to save last spring.

American Idol season four winner Carrie Underwood is hosting a holiday variety special on Fox on Dec. 7. Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton and another AI winner, David Cook, will appear on the show.

Friends star Matthew Perry is returning to primetime, where he’ll star as a 40-something sports arena manager in a mid-life crisis in a Showtime comedy he’s co-writing.

Mad Men‘s Mrs. Don Draper, a.k.a. January Jones, is the new GQ cover girl, and she tells the mag that former boyfriend Ashton Kutcher once told her she didn’t have the talent to make it as an actress.

Weekly World News: The TV show? I’m only surprised it took this long.

– A&E is planning a new drama about an LAPD detective (Finding Neverland star Radha Mitchell) who is bipolar, and has to choose between being healthy or being a good cop … turns out that she’s a brilliant detective, but only when she doesn’t take her medicine.

Fat Actress and Best Week Ever funny chick Rachael Harris and Spin City star Alan Ruck are headed to Cougar Town.

– A Glee soundtrack hits stores on Nov. 3, and a Glee tour hits theaters next spring?

– Another big November sweeps event: A crossover between all three CSI series.

– The second season of Sundance Channel’s Spectacle: Elvis Costello with … premieres on Dec. 9 and will include guests like Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett and Ray LaMontagne.

– And despite its low ratings, its DVR numbers are saving Dollhouse. For now, anyway.

– And tonight in primetime:

– Barb and Christine are breaking up, sort of, on The New Adventures of Old Christine (8PM ET, CBS)
– New Mercy ep on NBC at 8PM
– The America’s Next Top Model (8PM, The CW) contestants participate in a martial arts-themed photo shoot
– New So You Think You Can Dance on Fox (8PM)
– New Hank ep on ABC (8PM)
– Frankie and Mike’s hopes for a happy anniversary seem doomed on The Middle (8:30PM, ABC)
Gary Unmarried (8:30PM, CBS) tries to prove he can have a successful, and no-strings-attached one night stand
– Sue pits the Glee (9PM, Fox) kids against each other in her latest evil-doing plot
Shelley Long guests as the ex-wife of Jay (Ed O’Neill) on Modern Family (9PM, ABC)
– The team tracks a team of serial killers on Criminal Minds (9PM, CBS)
Felicity and The Unit alum Scott Foley guest stars on Law & Order: SVU (9PM, NBC)
– It’s all about duct tape on MythBusters (9PM, Discovery)
– Jules is ticked when Grayson doesn’t return her compliment on Cougar Town (9:30PM, ABC)
– The sixth, and final, season of Nip/Tuck premieres on FX (10PM)
– On CSI: NY (10PM, CBS), a woman ‘fesses up to offing her hubby, but she may be lying
– NGC’s Alaska State Troopers (10PM) is a new reality series that follows the brave troopers of Sarah Palin‘s home state
– New Eastwick at 10PM (ABC)
Adam tries to eat a five-pound sandwich (plus chili-cheese fries and a shake) on Man vs. Food (10PM, Travel Channel)
Keith finds cool jewelry and vases in South Africa on Man Shops Globe (10PM, Sundance)
The Bank of Mom and Dad (10PM, SoapNet) tries to help a wannabe actress who makes $7,000 a year but owes more than $20,000
Bill Cosby is the guest on The Jay Leno Show (10PM, NBC)
– New Top Chef: Las Vegas on Bravo (10PM)
– Butters tries to get his first kiss on South Park (10PM, Comedy Central)
Chef Robert has to cook for a block part on Dinner: Impossible (10PM, Food Network)
– On the Real World/Road Rules Challenge (10PM, MTV), Evan engages in a little romance, but what are his motives?
– New Toddlers & Tiaras humiliations on TLC at 10PM

Channel Surfing – June 15

All the tube news that’s fit to surf …

– Among the TV shows that will host panels at the San Diego Comic-Con in July: Chuck, Dexter, Dollhouse, Lost, MythBusters, Psych, True Blood, Supernatural and Smallville.

– There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there are free TV comedy episodes to watch while you’re noshing. Thanks to Sitcoms for the heads up about iTunes’ summer sale, which includes free episodes of Arrested Development, Reno 911! and The State, 99-cent eps of The Office, 30 Rock and The Larry Sanders Show, and, best of all, the entire five-episode first season of The State for $3.96.

– Fox has announced its fall 2009 premiere dates, kicking off its season on Sept. 16 with Glee and (another) new season of So You Think You Can Dance.

– Speaking of SYTYCD, why would Katie Holmes be performing on the show? Right? Yet, the rumor persists that she’ll be shaking her moneymaker on a July episode.

American Idol season five vet, and one of the show’s most successful artists, Chris Daughtry, talks about his second album, which will be released on July 14.

America’s Got Talent kicks off next week on NBC (June 23, (9PM ET), but will the show find its own Susan Boyle? Even though the Internet sensation was the runner-up on the latest season of Britain’s Got Talent, she’s reportedly earning more than $160,000 for a 12-minute performance at corporate events. In comparison, former President Bill Clinton gets between $140,000-150,000.

NPHNeil Patrick Harris, of course – is going to be a villain called The Music Meister in a fall episode of Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Wouldn’t he be great in the next big-screen Batman, too …

Gossip Girl is the big TV nominee at this year’s Teen Choice Awards.

Heidi Pratt says Al Roker made her cry. So does dry shampoo … in other words, what doesn’t? Did being chastised by Whoopi Goldberg also make her shed tears?

Dave Letterman apologizes, again, for the Palin jokes on tonight’s Late Show.

Heroes star Sendhil Ramamurthy will guest star in the upcoming “Bollywood Homicide” episode of Psych, which premieres (not soon enough) its fourth season on Aug. 7.

Vote for Tom Lennon. Or He’ll Kick You in the …

Well, the Reno 911! star tells you exactly where he’ll kick you – it’s not a good place – in this clever clip in which he campaigns for you to give him your vote for “Best Kiss” at the MTV Movie Awards. By the way, check out the I Love You, Man buss between he and Paul Rudd and vote for the fellas here.

Tom Lennon Wants Your Vote from Thomas Lennon
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