Making The Get Smart Movie Wasn't All Gravy
By Amanda Haverstick
This summer's flavor of the week comedy, Get Smart, isn't the first time the TV parody of all things secret agent has been in theatres.
Surprised much? Actually, the creative minds behind the 1965-70 series considered making a Get Smart movie during the show's third season. When they saw things didn't fare so well for Munster Go Home, they scrapped the idea -just not the script. It became the series' only three-parter "A Man Called Smart" and turned out to be one of the best episodes.
But then there's that other movie. No, not Get Smart Again, the warm and fuzzy 1989 TV reunion movie. I mean the bad one -the one that bombed.
Towards the end of the 1970s Leonard Stern, Arne Sultan and Bill Dana wrote a made for TV Get Smart movie. Universal then decided to call it The Nude Bomb and release it in theaters in 1980.
Yeah, that was the rotten one. It even lost in the 1981 Razzies. Neither Stern (who came up with the iconic "doors" sequence) nor Don Adams could control what happened next. Adams has admitted in interviews that the best jokes were left on the cutting room floor.
Max was still fighting Kaos, but Control was replaced with a new organization - P.I.T.T.S. There was also no Agent 99. *Gasp* She was replaced with three other agents that were given numbers that equaled a woman's measurements.
For what it's worth, it's been re-released on DVD. The picture quality is great but the movie is still awful - even in a day where we get our jollies watching TV shows and Will Ferrell movies that mock the sleazy cheese of the 70s.
That situation having been a bad memory for fans of the show, talk of a new movie was met with apprehension.
The chatter started in 1998 when a script called Spyville surfaced. The concept apparently had a Get Smart feel to it and Jim Carrey's name soon became attached to it. Carrey, though, refused the role.
The next development had Rob Reiner producing the movie and Tom Hanks starring in it.
By 2001 Warner Brothers had shifted gears. New writers were brought in to retool the script and in 2003 the shoephone was passed to Will Ferrell.
In 2004 the movie landed in the lap of Get Smart fan Steve Carell - just off the heals of a failed Get Smart-like pilot called HUD.
There was just one problem -there still wasn't a script. Ruh-roh. Tom Astle and Matt Ember were signed on as writers, with Carell and B.J. Novak producing the finished version of the script. Around the same time, Peter Segal was signed on as the director. Anne Hathaway became attached to the project near the end of 2006.
Filming began in 2007 followed by a hailstorm of bad buzz. The worst of which had to do with Warner Bros' attempt to cheat Mel Brooks, Buck Henry and Leonard Stern out of credit as creators of Get Smart. In the midst of this nasty legal fight, the movie's creative team was forbidden from communicating with Brooks, Henry and Stern.
Once news of the legal action hit the street in April 2007, the suit was dropped and Brooks and Henry were added as creative consultants. Their input was minimal at best -the script was done and filming was well underway.
Would you believe that left a bad aftertaste?
In the end, Mel Brooks did give this movie props and Leonard Stern, a true class act, made a cameo.
This is the second longest blog I've ever written.
Webmaster's note: This article was originally an entry in a blog I had under the auspices of The News-Dispatch titled Out of the Cone of Silence. The blog itself seems to have evaporated into web oblivion. At one point I moved the entries to Myspace for safekeeping... and well, I think we know what happened with that.