Interview - Reno 911: Miami
with Thomas Lennon
Thomas Lennon wears many hats… but he seems to only wear the one pair
of shorts. In both "Reno: 911" the series and now, the feature film
spin-off "Reno 911!: Miami", the now filthy rich comic (he co-wrote the
“mega blockbuster” "Night at the Museum"!) experiences, once again, the
true meaning of Chafing.
Granted, with the film’s budget
(though for a film, $10 million is still quite cheap) being
significantly more than the series, Lennon was able to ask for a better
pair of shorts this time around.
“Originally, what I was wearing
on the show, were those kind of shorts that a female stripper wears
when she plays the ‘naughty cop’. That seemed like a great idea – but
that was five years ago; now it’s less funny to me every day”, says
Lennon, assumingly bathing his butt in a bucket of hot soapy water, as
we chat. “As long as it still brings a smile to everyone’s faces”.
Comedy Central’s Reno:
911 – essentially a spoof on the show COPS
- has been a raging success; so much so that Lennon, who plays Lt. Jim
Dangle on the series (as well as serving as a writer and executive
producer on it) has his own Halloween costume now.
“… and can you believe they’ve sold out of the Dangle Halloween costume
here? It must mean I’ve achieved something!”.
being modest, of course. Lennon has achieved a lot. For starters, his
got a feature film version of his low-budget cable series up with two
major studios (Fox and Paramount).
The show was in its fifth
season when Lennon and his cast – notably regular collaborator Ben
Garant - decided he wanted to “stretch the limits a little bit of what
we could do on television”.
It would all start with a title.
made an effort to think of what the most stupidest title would be –
with the most awkward punctuation in it. The exclamation point next to
a column is really awkward – I don’t even think that’s grammatically
legal. I think it’s technically an error. That’s sort of the way we
operate on the TV show – we don’t think about anything for a long
period of time. We basically based the movie on a title that we thought
was just exactly stupid enough.”
A movie meant the guys could bring in more “nudity and vulgarity and
violence” to the world of Reno.
Technically, Lennon says they were also able to do more challenging
sequences on film. “Like the Rear
the one where everyone’s whacking off to pay-per-view porn at the hotel
– the pacing, the timing, the way you can shoot it. We just couldn’t do
that kind of scene on television!”.
With two big studios (FOX
and Paramount) behind the movie, and Danny De Vito’s Jersey Films
producing, they were also able to rope in a few big-name celebrity
cameos (including De Vito himself).
“That was really cool. The
Rock, for example, we didn’t think we’d get him. He was apparently a
big fan of the show or something though and as soon as we placed the
call to him and told him ‘We’re looking for an awesome commando guy
that something really horrible is going to happen to’ he said, ‘great,
“There’s an alternate ending on the DVD, when it
comes out, that features The Rock. It’s a whole other ending in which
he’s prominent. Just some of the secret bonus stuff on the DVD”.
You’d think both Police
Academy 5 : Assignment Miami Beach – which pretty much
speaks for itself – and Broken Lizard’s cop-spoof Super Troopers have
had a lot of influence on Lennon’s Reno franchise, but
he’s quick to point out that isn’t the case. In fact, he’s never even
seen the fifth Police
“Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a whole Police Academy.
I’ve seen bits and pieces of them on cable, but the only thing I’m
really familiar with is the guy [Michael Winslow] that does the voices
– and he does like Jimi Hendrix and that sort of stuff. I’m remised to
say that my Police
Academy knowledge is not as good as it should be – I’m
thinking I should have probably watched at least that one (Number 5)”.
As for Broken Lizard, the creators of the similarly themed cop
Lennon says that while there’s no animosity on his side of the fence,
the Canadian comedy troupe does seem to have it out for him.
do seem to think we’re based on them – and they like to bring that up
in every interview they do. We actually shot the pilot for our show
well before Super
came out – it’s just that ours sat on the shelf for years. Three years.
I have nothing against those guys… the only thing I have against them
is that they’re frequently in the press saying ‘Hey, that was our
It would be a nice Celebrity
Deathmatch though? Plasticine Super Troopers Vs
Plasticine Reno 911?
“Us and them? Yeah, I’m sure they’d be up for it.”
Since Reno 911:
Miami, Lennon’s been involved in several other films –
most notably, the monster hit Night at the Museum
starring Ben Stiller.
don’t think anyone ever thought it was going to make 560 million! It’s
in sort-of ‘mega hit’ territory now, which is nice”, he says.
says he’s now in talks with the studio to put together a follow-up.
“Right now, we’re actually in very early preliminary talks [about the
Before that, he stars in a film he co-wrote called Balls of Fury.
fantastic. It stars myself, Christopher Walken and George Lopez. Its
like an over-the-top Jean Claude Van Damme kinda movie about ping-pong.
Lennon loved working with Walken.
weird… it seems like he’s going to be a very creepy, strange guy but
he’s actually a rather shy and mellow guy – and he can dance like a
Lennon’s also got another film in the works, How to Stage a Robot Uprising
which Mike Myers is attached to star in.
slowly heading towards going”, says Lennon. “It’s a slow business the
movie business – years go by and all you seem to be doing is tweaking
one paragraph. Nations crumble [by the time its done].”
Lennon says he’s not going to forget his roots though – and is already
planning a Reno
911! movie sequel.
One idea is to set it in Australia. Reno 911 : Down Under,
he says. “We found we really like it when we’re battling animals and I
believe there’s a certain kind of wildlife that Australia has?
Kangaroos that will kick you in the face real bad? We do wanna do a
scene that involves a Koala bear humping someone’s face! So if we can
figure out a way to make a whole film around that, there’s a good
chance that could happen”.
If it does happen, Lennon says he’s keen to get Paul Reubens and Paul
Rudd, who appear in Reno
911 : Miami to do return appearances, and wants
his Night at
the Museum cohort Ben Stiller to take part. He’s also keen
to have another action star, Steven Seagal make a cameo.
someone will get humped in the face by a Koala bear… and Steven Seagal
will blow up…Or, Seagal’s doing a lecture on safety with Koala bears
and then gets face-raped!”
911! : MIAMI commences May 17 Across Australia