The incredible news came out this week that Netflix picked up a Wet Hot American Summer TV series. “After months of deal-making and prep work, I’ve learned that filming has started this week on an 8-episode limited series,” Deadline Hollywood reported, “with virtually its entire ensemble cast returning.”
After the initial shock and excitement faded, some basic questions have come up. They began filming this week? It was famously cold when they filmed the original, but if they’re back at Camp Towanda in Honesdale, Pennsylvania it’s about 10 degrees Fahrenheit and probably covered in snow. But we suppose they can film anywhere. The bigger issue is the cast. Almost no project outside of Freaks and Geeks or Dazed and Confused had more budding superstars in the cast. Let’s go through what some of them are up to right now.
Bradley Cooper: From now until until February 22nd he’s doing eight performances of The Elephant Man on Broadway per week. What little downtime he has is spent promoting American Sniper and gearing up for the many movies he has in the works. It’s hard to imagine him shooting anything more than a cameo, and even that would be a challenge to pull off until March.
Ken Marino: He lives in Los Angeles and is starring in the new NBC sitcom Marry Me, which is currently shooting new episodes. He’s also got multiple movies in the works and is raising two young children with his wife, the screenwriter Erica Oyama.
Amy Poehler: She’s co-hosting the Golden Globes on Sunday. Parks and Recreation just finished shooting, but she’s also got movies in the works and is raising kids in Los Angeles.
A.D. Miles: He’s the head writer on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which surely eats up every waking hour of his weekdays.
Paul Rudd: He’s, well, Paul Rudd. That means a lot of movies. He’s also going to be Marvel’s Ant-Man.
Joe Lo Truglio: He has a leading role on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which shoots in Los Angeles despite its name.
Elizabeth Banks: She just directed Pitch Perfect 2 and is shooting a sequel to Magic Mike.
Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Christopher Meloni, Zak Orth, Marisa Ryan, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Marguerite Moreau and Janeane Garofalo are also, to varying degrees, busy with their own projects.
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The obvious move is to simply film somewhere near Los Angeles, but getting any sort of quorum there on a single day would probably be a challenge. This is the exact problem that Mitch Hurwitz faced when he brought back Arrested Development. His solution was to shoot people on whatever days they had open, and then he green screened everything together. It didn’t work very well. It felt choppy and it was instantly apparent when two actors weren’t really speaking to one another in person. It also forced him to make each episode about individual characters, totally changing the vibe of the show.
We have tremendous faith that director David Wain will find a way to make this work, and he obviously wouldn’t have gotten a Netflix deal without a detailed plan of attack. He’s said for years that the Wet Hot followup will take place earlier in the summer of 1981, meaning the actors playing teenagers will now be in their 40s. It’s a hysterical idea. Let’s just hope we get everyone back. The phrase “virtually its entire cast is returning” is a little alarming. We want everybody, down to the talking can of mixed vegetables and that goth girl that liked the Cure.