In his new Hulu show Spoilers, Kevin Smith will talk movies with 50 other passionate film fans.
Photo courtesy Hulu
Kevin Smith likes to talk. He’ll riff for hours on pretty much anything — comics, farting, hockey, Bruce Willis, the general state of the internet. But mostly he likes to talk about movies. A lot. With people. And with his new series Spoilers, that’s pretty much all he has to do.
The show, which will premiere June 4 on Hulu, will showcase Smith and 50 die-hard movie fans right after they’ve seen a big blockbuster movie on opening night, creating a monster gab-fest full of opinions, fights and — because it’s a Smith endeavor — plenty of gags and a bit of Jason Mewes (the Jay to Smith’s Silent Bob).
“Who doesn’t have something to say in this day and age? Everybody wants a platform — social media is all about, ‘I have an opinion and here it is!’”
The Spoilers audience will consist of fans who sign up through a website, launching Monday, and request the movie they want to see. Filming will take place at Smith’s new SModCo Studios on the Universal Studios CityWalk in Hollywood, where the attendees will watch the movies.
Putting butts in seats is the least of Smith’s worries about the show. “It’s going be easy to fill those slots, but the trick, of course, is filling them with people who have something to say,” the Clerks director said in a phone interview with Wired. “But who doesn’t have something to say in this day and age? Everybody wants a platform — social media is all about, ‘I have an opinion and here it is!’”
Harder than finding an audience for the show and getting them talking, though, will be keeping the ever-verbose Smith and his similarly passionate fans from going on too long and keeping their language in the realm of what can be said on network television (the standard that Hulu shows follow). Zak Knutson, the Chop Shop production company co-founder who will be editing the show, already warned Smith to keep it brief.
“He was like, ‘Look motherfucker. This is not one of those shows you can do for three hours and expect me to cut down to half an hour and deliver it to Hulu in the schedule we’ve got,’” Smith said.
Wired got on the phone with Smith to get the spoilers on Spoilers, which will begin with a 10-episode season and go up each Monday on Hulu and Hulu Plus. In the process, naturally, we got much more than that. Read on to get the geek auteur’s thoughts on Star Wars pen pals, having sway on the internet, and his aspirations for sucking Bill Murray’s dick. (Metaphorically speaking, of course).
Wired: First, congrats on your AMC show Comic Book Men getting renewed.
Kevin Smith: Thank you! That, to me, was such a big win because as much as I love watching those dudes — you gotta realize Bryan and Walter are two of my dearest friends in the world, and I’ve always thought they were hysterically funny — so to be able to fucking turn on not just TV but AMC and see those dudes on TV? For six times I kept telling myself, like, “If they only do it six times, count your blessings, don’t bitch. Even if you don’t go to Season 2, you struck gold.” This never happens — people don’t turn to you and say, “Let’s do a TV show about your friends.” Then when they said, “Hey, we’re going to do Season 2,” I was just like, “Oh my god legitimacy! True legitimacy!” It was really neat, so I appreciate that.
“I got one of those long stick mics from the ’70s, like a Donahue-type mic, and I’m getting in everyone’s face like, ‘What did you think?’ When you turn the mic on the audience it’s pure gold.”
Wired: You’re becoming something of a force in TV now.
Smith: That led to this show [Spoilers]. Because, here’s what I learned doing Comic Book Men: When I pitched it, it was like, “It’s Pawn Stars in a comic book store.” And the spine was always going to be transactions — people coming in with stuff and Walter deciding whether to buy it or not. And what was learned when we aired the shows was the will-he-won’t-he-buy-it? — people didn’t care about that. It didn’t matter. What they loved was just seeing the thing come in and seeing the conversation that it kickstarted. So with Spoilers I was like, “OK, man, let’s take the notion of what we, those of us who really love movies, do online afterward — we go and we chitchat about it on an internet forum. Let’s take it and do it live.”
Being on Talking Dead, man, is a real eye-opener because it was like, “This counts? This TV show just happened and this TV show is about the TV show that just happened? This is amazing!” So, let’s take all this that we’ve learned, or what I did with the Red State tour, or what I’ve been doing for years, which is showing a movie and then having a Q&A afterward — let’s take all that stuff and put it into Spoilers. The notion is: Watch the movie with everybody, we take them out and pay for them to go see the movie, kick back — on opening day, none of this early bullshit, ain’t doing it like those critics, doing it legit — and then just go down the street, sit down and have a gabfest, man.
I got one of those long stick mics from the ’70s, like a Donahue-type mic, and I’m getting in everyone’s face like, “What did you think?” Instead of co-hosts in a movie-reviews show where you’ve got a fat guy and a skinny guy saying “yes” or “no,” it’s a fat guy and 50 other people. It’s not the normal constant. I was forced to watch Donahue as a kid. My grandmother would be like, “Oh, my Donahue is on.” The first half of it was painful because it was like pundits and windbags talking to each other. But what I loved when I tuned in was when he turned the mic on the audience. Because the whole time he’s up there, you see people in the audience shaking their heads and they’ve gotta get something off their chests, they don’t agree. And when you turn the mic on the audience it’s pure gold.
Wired: Especially movie geeks.
“I’ll have on my friend Malcolm Ingram, who hates everything. He’s one of these nihilists. If it’s popular he can’t stand it. He represents the internet.”
Smith: I figure, if I’m sitting down with movie fans who just watched a movie? These cats are going to be electric. I don’t need a co-host — I’m going to have 50 different co-hosts every week. That’s just for the first half of the show. Then we’ll get into the segments and stuff we do.
Wired: What’s the format? What kind of segments can fans expect from Spoilers?
Smith: We’re going to do a beat called Movie Goon where like I’ll have on my friend Malcolm Ingram, who hates everything. He’s one of these nihilists. If it’s popular, he can’t stand it. He represents the internet. So we’ll bring him on and let him have his say and then we’ll beat him up verbally and tell him why he’s wrong — have a good old-fashioned debate.
We’re going to do a bit called Criterion Corner, where we sit around and geek out over the library and talk about flicks that maybe people don’t know about. There’s so many titles in the Criterion Collection now that people don’t even know them all. We’re doing cartoons as well. We’ll be doing a Hollywood Babble-On cartoon.
Segment four is Icon Interviews, where we sit somebody down in the chair and gush over them. Grab a Stan Lee, or if we’re lucky, get man-of-the-moment Joss Whedon. Plop them down in what we call the “high chair” — it’s like a throne. We modeled it off the Conan throne. We just sit there and I Q&A with them, and then I turn it over to the audience and let them Q&A as well.
Then we’ll end with a little Jason Mewes bit as well. He’s excited to be the bit guy. We’ve got this bit we do in the live show called “Let Us Act,” where we pull people from the audience and they do scenes from movies with Mewes, so we’re going to do some of that.