Will Kevin Smith's 'Red State' Even Get Made?

by Paul William Tenny

kevin-smith-bsg.jpgA fine question and one I figured not to be asking. Seriously, it's a Kevin Smith horror movie. How the hell do you pass that up? It's not like we're talking about a $200 million Brett Ratner adventure here, even if it's $20-40, that's a fine investment in something people are going to love. Well, maybe not this one, but people will buy it anyway because Smith has that kind of rep.

While I was playing catchup this morning - I disappeared off the 'net right around the time it was announced that Smith was going to be directing an episode of Battlestar Galactica's final season - I found out that it's not going to happen. Rather than read other peoples accounting of what went down, I opted to just check my newsreader folder that had Smith's blog in it. Sure enough, it was all laid out.

Eick offered the directing gig to him, he was hesitant in the way good people are who don't want to go in and screw up something they have a great deal of respect for. That hesitation caused a mix-up between Eick and Ron Moore, and the episode in question got booked for John Dahl, while the offer was still open for Smith.
All that Eick could offer after Dahl was book was a mea culpa which Smith printed on his weblog. It happens, you know, and on the one hand you could almost see it coming. How often has a golden opportunity come along only to fall apart, leaving you with that familiar sinking feeling that any good opportunity is bound to turn out junk? It figures that one of the big ones could have been locked up, had Kevin Smith not been such a great guy. If he didn't care so much about BSG in the first place, he might have have accepted right away.

So the bad news is that Kevin won't be doing any BSG, since this is the last season for the show, there won't be any future opportunities. He's still a lock for Heroes: Origin.

It gets worse from there, though. He took time to update people on the progress of Red State, which I thought was going to get made by WTC no matter what. I had no idea it was so up in the air, and actually if things are as they appear now, they are actually pooled on the floor.

Jen and I rock the Richard Gere/Andy Garcia psycho-cop drama "Internal Affairs", during which I spy friend-and-producer Dan Etheridge (he of not only "Veronica Mars" producing fame, but also the voice of Mr. Plug in the "Clerks" cartoon) on iChat. I ask him if he'll give "Red State" a read, to see if it's a movie that should be made at all. He obliges, I give him a heads-up on the bleakness of "Red State", and we make an appointment to chat about it later that evening.

Post "Internal Affairs", Schwalbach and I head into "Fright Night". Midway through, Dan pops up on chat again, with his thoughts on the script.

DAN: Well, lordy.
KEVIN: Thoughts?
DAN: I don't mean this offensively, but I feel like I want to take a shower. All that moral yucch.

He talks about giving the script to his lawyer for a read, and at this point I'm seriously concerned about whether or not this script is ever going to get made. I don't know if Smith is having problems because this is so far outside of what he's used to doing, or because it just isn't an idea that is panning out, or what.

I do know that The Weinstein Company is hurting badly. Those guys haven't had a bona fide hit since leaving Disney, and even though I think they recently got an infusion of cash for new development, every month that goes by without a breakout hit is another month the noose strangling their ability to take risks gets tighter.

Personally, I think the studios would do well to try more projects like Red State. There's no reason you can't make an exceptionally good and financially successful film for around $20 million, and you can make a heck of a lot more flicks for that cost than you can when you swing for the fences every single time out.

If you're interested, you can read more about what Dan Etheridge thinks about Red State, along with some pictures of Kevin Smith on the BSG set which are exceptionally depressing because they guy looks so happy to be there, and got the gig snookered out from under him.

Still, it must have been cool has hell to be there and have a shot like that. You can get that opportunities like that won't dry up anytime soon. They got him on Heroes, they wanted him on BSG - two of the very best science fiction dramas out there - that alone is a remarkable statement to this guys talent and heart.


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