Red carpet chatter with some folks from “Backwash”

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If, like me, you grew up a weird kid compulsively watching the Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy and, yes and alas, the Three Stooges, then you might well enjoy “Backwash,” an enjoyably dippy web series with its final episode to be uploaded on Crackle this Monday night, December 20. The series stars Joshua Malina, who also wrote it, as the grumpy and conniving Val, who is, for whatever reason, charged with the care of the childlike and lovably idiotic Jonesy (Michael Panes). When they accidentally rob a bank with a sausage — you kind of have to be there — and hook up with a flamboyant ice cream truck driver, Fleming (Michael Ian Black, who I was unable to nab for a quick interview), the on-the-lamb trio begins a cross-country odyssey of sorts.

The enjoyably lowbrow but sometimes surreal silliness is book-ended by introductions from a rogues gallery of comic and acting talent, the funniest being a mysteriously bearded Jon Hamm, Allison Janney, John Cho, Dulé Hill, and Sarah Silverman. Somehow, Victorian author William Makepeace Thackeray is maligned as being the originally author of this more or less contemporary travesty lovingly directed by Danny Leiner, who also helmed “Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle.”

It was my privilege to chat with with some of the actors and creators of “Backwash” at the theatrical premiere of a somewhat shortened feature-length version of the web series. I started with Josh Malina, an actor I’ve been rather fond of since I stumbled over “Sports Night,” the show that convinced me that the writer of “The Social Network” was something more than an entertainingly glib semi-hack, actually a lot more.

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Ken Marino is in “The State” of DVD bliss

Ken Marino is a busy working actor — his recent gigs include stints on the CW’s unjustly slain “Reaper” and the Starz Network’s “Party Down” — and is doubtless usually too focused on whatever project’s in front of him to look back. This week, however, sees the long-sought DVD release of “The State,” the sketch comedy series that Marino (along with Michael Ian Black, David Wain, Joe Lo Truglio, Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, and many more) did for MTV way back in the young and innocent ’90s. Never a huge ratings success, “The State” has nonetheless acquired cult status in the years since its cancellation, and its arrival on the home market is the answer to many fans’ prayers — making Will Harris’ recently conducted interview with Marino something of a “State” retrospective (and a perfectly timed one, at that). As it turns out, Ken hasn’t seen those old episodes in years — and wasn’t all that hopeful about seeing them on DVD:

“David (Wain) kind of headed the campaign to get it done, and he dealt with the outside forces that were trying to put it together or to block it or whatever, so I would just get E-mail updates. At a certain point, I just got numb to that. I was just, like, ‘Oh, it’s never gonna happen.'”

Reminiscing about his State days, Marino opened up about the writing process, the troupe’s battles with MTV, the origins of the infamous phrase “I want to dip my balls in it,” and the long-lost album the State recorded for Warner Bros.:

“”From what I remember, it’s a drunken mess. We were, like, ‘Okay, if we take all our money and get tickets and go to the Bahamas to record it at a recording studio down there, we won’t really make any money, but we’ll be in the Bahamas for two weeks. You wanna do that?’ If you listen closely on a number of the pieces, you’ll hear ice in our glasses making noise, because we were constantly drinking whatever local flavored drinks were around.”

To read the rest of the interview — including Ken’s thoughts on a “Reaper” movie and Jane Lynch’s recent departure from “Party Down” — click here!

  

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Bret Harrison and Tyler Labine speak out on “Reaper” finale

I recently had a chance to do a joint phoner with Bret Harrison and Tyler Labine in connection with Season 2 of “Reaper” being released on DVD, though it will probably come as no surprise that a sizable chunk of the conversation ended up being about the likely demise of the series. Rest assured, I pointed out that the general tone of the comments from Premium Hollywood about the season finale…well, at least those of John Paulsen, anyway (though it’s clear others share his opinion, too)…were along the lines of, “Oh, my God, this is the biggest gyp I’ve ever seen in my life!”

“Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of that, too,” laughed Labine. “All in all, maybe it could’ve been a better ending for the season, regardless of whether it was the wrap-up or not, but you have to understand that there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen by the end with, like, where you have to leave it. There were a lot of notes coming down from on high, and I think things just get a little bit scrambled at the end of a show that’s on the bubble, technically. I think we have to give the writers a little bit more credit, but, yeah, I think we were all…well, I guess we can speak freely. The show’s canceled. We weren’t super happy with the ending of the show, I feel. But that’s just me. I don’t know. What about you, Bret?”

“No, no, I wasn’t happy,” admitted Harrison. “But I was excited that I got to play Quarters.

“Oh, yeah,” agreed Labine. “We all were.”

The full interview will appear on Bullz-Eye on Wednesday, but to tease you until then, here are a few more choice quotes from the conversation:

“All in all, for a second season, I thought it went well. We introduced some cool characters. But I can officially go on record now as saying that I was not happy with the storyline with me trying to fuck my stepsister.”Tyler Labine

“I think they were planning on leading (Alan Townsend, played by Sean Patrick Thomas) to be kind of part of the finale, from the little bit I heard them talking about it, but deals don’t work out all the time, and I don’t really want to get into too much detail, but…it just didn’t work out, for whatever reason.”Bret Harrison

“If we’d been able to come back and tell the story in Season 3, Andi would’ve been a Reaper, there could’ve been a whole new rebellion with Michael Ian Black as Sam’s guardian angel now, basically, and a full-scale battle between Heaven and Hell might’ve actually started to go on. It would’ve taken a whole new turn.”Tyler Labine

Admit it: you’re already chomping at the bit for the interview, aren’t you? Stay tuned, “Reaper” fans!

  

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