Director Kevin Smith on "Clerks: The Cartoon"
May 31, 2000
(CNN) In 1994, the Sundance Film Festival awarded its Filmmakers Trophy Award to "Clerks," directed by Kevin Smith. The hit independent film about the clerks and customers in a convenience store also won the International Critics Week Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Smiths new project, "Clerks: The Cartoon," premiers May 31 on ABC-TV. The animated series features the voices of the same actors who starred in the film, including Smith himself as Silent Bob.
Following the commercial success of the film, Smith went on to write and direct "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy," and "Dogma." He was also co-executive producer of "Good Will Hunting." Smith owns his own comic book store, Jay and Silent Bobs Secret Stash, and has written his own comic titles including "Jay & Silent Bob" and "Clerks: The Comic."
Chat Moderator: Welcome, Kevin Smith, to CNN.com!
Kevin Smith: 'Evening, all.
Question from Mac: When can I expect to see "Clerks" animated in Europe -- Eire -- if its been picked up yet or not?
Kevin Smith: I've heard no plans for a European unspooling of the show. Hell, we're lucky it's even airing in the U.S. -- that'd be the United States.
Chat Moderator: Tell us a little about "Clerks."
Kevin Smith: That's like bringing coal to Newcastle with this crowd. Most of these cats know all about it already, probably even more so than myself. But for the few who might've wandered into the chat looking for Bernard Shaw, I'll give some light 'deets on the show.
It's a cartoon based on the first flick we made, waaaay back in '94, during the days of grunge and flannel. It was a filthy little potty-mouthed flick that never played in more than fifty theatres during its theatrical release. So, naturally, we thought it'd make a perfect choice for network television -- as a cartoon, no less.
Question from Amy: If the beauty of "Clerks," the movie, is that they are ordinary guys, then why turn them into superheros? Not a slam, just curious.
Kevin Smith: There's no beauty in it whatsoever. In fact, there's only ugliness, anger, hate and bile. As an aside, I didn't write those press notes from which that "superheroes" quote came.
Question from LittleWorm: Kevin, what kind of numbers are you looking for in order to deem the show a success, in your eyes anyway, thus moving you to bringing an animated "Clerks" to the big screen?
Kevin Smith: I'd be happy if three people watched and found it hilarious. Those three people would be Michael Eisner, Stu Bloomberg and Lloyd Braun, co-heads of ABC. If only those three cats tuned in and found the show funny, we might have a shot at life beyond our meager six episodes. No one else in the entire world has to watch, just those three guys. Failing that, if more people tuned in to watch the show than had tuned in to watch the final episode of "M*A*S*H," then we might get renewed as well.
In terms of making a theatrical "Clerks" cartoon feature, that's already in the talking stages. Ratings aside, it's a distinct possibility that we'll move forward on that. And, if we do, rest assured all that profane language will be securely back in place.
Question from Cybertone: Hey Kevin, congrats on the show and receiving your honorary doctorate. I'm a big fan of yours and the AICN Web site, and neither of you seem too excited at the way ABC has treated the animated "Clerks." Any regrets at attempting prime time?
Kevin Smith: That's Doctor Smith to you, Cybertone. As for regrets, the only real regret is that we didn't opt to go with UPN instead of ABC. The UPN pitch meeting was classic. We didn't have to pitch. They said, "Look, we don't care what the show's about. Just bring it here. We need programs."
We could've "xeroxed" our asses for a half hour and they would've let it run for at least two seasons. ABC wouldn't let us "xerox" our asses, so I regret going with that particular network.
Question from DJ_Andeee: If you had to compare "Clerks: The Cartoon" series to any kind of cereal, which one would it be and why?
Kevin Smith: It's Lucky Charms all the way, as it's chock-a-block full of pink hearts, orange moons, yellow stars, green clovers and blue diamonds. Either that or it's Trix, because it's for kids -- if your kid is inbred and very low class -- as most of the reviews we've gotten so far seem to say that the show's only for complete morons.
Question from Scissorhands: Kevin, knowing the interest you have in "Star Wars," has George Lucas approached you about script rewrites for "Episode II"?
Kevin Smith: I've gotten no Lucas calls ever. I doubt he'd take to my version of "Star Wars."
Question from Brodiefan: Hey Kevin, any plans on releasing "Mallrats 2," the comic book, as you mentioned in the DVD commentary?
Kevin Smith: The "Rats" comic is in the pipeline. Maybe next year. First, I've gotta turn in some "Green Arrow" scripts.
Question from Ayatollah: If you could go back and re-cast "Mallrats," would you still cast Jeremy London? And, if not, who would you cast?
Kevin Smith: In all honesty, I would've cast Affleck, as I think he's the finest actor of his generation. Also, he works cheap.
Question from Hitnrun: Kevin, are you still in the running for directing the movie based on Daredevil, and are you still going to make more comics for the character?
Kevin Smith: I was never in the running for that gig. I don't know who started that rumor. At one point, we were trying to set it up at Dimension, with me writing and Robert Rodriguez directing, but the Marvel movie brass wanted a budget in the high seventies with a marketing budget in the thirty million range. It was preposterous for a comic character that isn't instantly recognizable to mainstream audiences. We politely declined. As for the comics, I intend to go back sometime next year for a sort-of sequel to the "Guardian Devil" storyline.
Question from LouASkew: Kevin, you won't answer this, but I want to personally thank you. Not only for everything you've done, but a few months ago you signed a comic I ordered from the Stash and I didn't pay or ask for it, so thank you!
Kevin Smith: Lou, there's not really a question in there. But seeing as it paints me in a positive light, I'll comment on it. We don't run a very tight ship here at View Askew. Bry Johnson, our head of online sales, will be fired for this profit loss error. That is all.
Question from Ezikel: When will you be coming back to Canada?
Kevin Smith: No plans on heading to the Great White North in the immediate future -- unless I'm finally voted in as Prime Minister.
Question from DJ_Andeee: What percentage of Big Hollywood actors/actresses are as phony as Pamela's hooters?
Kevin Smith: With the exception of everyone I've worked with, I'd say one hundred percent. Granted, I've only had experience with the actors and actresses I've worked with, so I'm only speculating out my ass here. But I'd have to go out on a limb and say every one of them, with the exception of the fine talent that've showed up in our flicks, are total fakes. Unless they agree to be in our flicks for scale -- movie minimum wage.
Question from Savannah: Kevin, since you are here to promote the show, I have to ask, how did you get several major celebrities to participate in voicing characters? Were they done as favors or was it strictly business?
Kevin Smith: It seemed more like favors as there wasn't any cash left in the voiceover budget once we went through it all on coke and whores -- both male and female. Hollywood is very decadent, you see.
Question from WerkGouki: How into philosophy are you? Do you make a conscious effort to chuck existentialist ideas in films or does it just kinda end up in there?
Kevin Smith: I told my wife that Kant was "the bomb" and she married me.
Question from Country-Mike: Have you ever wanted to do a guest voice on "The Simpsons"?
Kevin Smith: I'm an American male TV watcher. Of course, I've wanted to be a voice on "The Simpsons." But I had to settle for being a voice on that terrible "Clerks" cartoon instead.
Question from Fireburn75: I was wondering if C2, "Clerks 2," is still in the works. I saw some information pertaining to it on ViewAskew.com and then it was gone.
Kevin Smith: No "Clerks 2." Ever. Promise.
Question from Torak: Kevin, were you yourself ever a "clerk"? You seemed to capture the perfect attitude and hatred for the American customer in Randal and the sometime hopelessness of a menial job with Dante.
Kevin Smith: Yes. I clerked in the stores in "Clerks." That's how I secured the locations. And, yes, I hated anyone who ever came in and had the audacity to expect me to do my job.
Question from Ezikel: Have you ever seen "Wallace & Gromit"? If so, what did you think of it?
Kevin Smith: Sure. Love those shorts. Can't wait for "Chicken Run."
Question from Sputnik: Come on, Doc, shed some light on the ultimate Jersey flick mentioned at newsaskew.com.
Kevin Smith: There is no ultimate Jersey flick. There is one more Askewniverse flick, and then it's time to put away the toys and start making more adult flicks. By adult flicks, I mean porn. Hardcore porn. Triple penetration action.
Question from LittleShaver: How's Mewes doing? Any plans for him to star in some movies. I think he's a great actor.
Kevin Smith: Mewes is doing well. He's phenomenal on the show. As far as movies go, he'll have a big part in the next one we make. And, at the end of June, he's going out to L.A. to shoot a smaller indie flick.
He had an audition for the Penny Marshall/Drew Barryless flick called "Riding in Cars with Boys" but, apparently, Laverne didn't like him enough to cast the brother. If only Shirley had been helming that pic. My boy would've had a fighting chance.
Chat Moderator: Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share with us?
Kevin Smith: My final thought is that I don't want this chat to end. Can we stay? Can CNN spare a few more nickels for me and the fans? C'mon, Ted.
Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us, Kevin Smith.
Kevin Smith: Many thanks, CNN Chat-Master. We know you tried to buy us more time. But "the Man," he just keeps me and my peeps down! Any more queries, head over to ViewAskew.com. I can usually be found there.
'Night, all. Don't forget. Watch "Clerks" tomorrow night, after Drew Carey. And buy every product advertised during our half hour block. That'll send a message.
Kevin Smith joined the Entertainment chat by telephone from New Jersey. The above is an edited transcript of the chat.
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