Over the years Cartoon Network has been delivering edgy, bizarre, and often brilliant programming in their Adult Swim block in the evening. One of the those crazy or could it be brilliant enough to join the charge in delivering something more than the usual crap on TV is Derrick Beckles whose series Hot Package is finally giving fans of the Entertainment Show genre what they want, nut jobs and of course Pat O’Brien. I had the chance to sit down with the mastermind behind this awesomely bizarre series to see what it’s all about and how they make it work so well.
Bobby: Can you tell us a little bit about your show Hot Package?
Derrick: I tried to make show like Entertainment Tonight or Extra, but not make it like them, but instead the version of those shows that I would like to see. We basically get a bunch of found footage essentially and the guests we have are just straight up weirdoes. They are basically people that want to be famous that are not and probably never will be. It’s cool, we got Pat O’Brian in it and he is the co-host with me and then we have a woman named Anastasia Roark who’s awesome. Everybody in the show is real, every guest we have is just a real person. This guy Jeff Turner is a stalker from this movie I Think We’re Alone Now is our gossip columnist. The cast itself is already a good collection of weirdoes and then we have the guests on and when we do the interviews they just come together amazingly with this messed up psycadelic version of Entertainment Tonight. I love making shows where whoever the host is, is just morally bankrupt.
Bobby: Isn’t that how most of them are in real life?
Derrick: Exactly right? We try not to be too over the top about it, but there are just some jokes that you just can’t help. It’s just a lot of fun to be the host of a show like that. We did this one episode with a guy named Perry Caravello who was in this movie Windy City Heat that Jimmy Kimmel made with Bobcat Goldthwait where they basically pranked this guy for ten years convincing him they were making a feature film starring him, but they just kept filming crap for a this film that didn’t exist and just kept this guy going. He is on this episode with us and is just amazing, he would just keep asking (doing a Perry impression) “What do I do next?” and we just told him, Perry you are doing fine, and he had no idea what was going on. It’s awesome because we can have these people on the show and treat everything real and get great results from that.
Bobby: Where did the idea of this show come from?
Derrick: I had done this show called Totally for Teens that was a fake kid’s show where we got like 60 kids and they thought it was a real show. It was kind of like Wondershowzen, grown up a bit a teen show where I was the host of it and I was just this horrible human being hosting a teen show. So basically every time I create a show I create a framework that can allow for the universe to go in this direction, but can also just allow me to utilize different kinds of media and go where ever I want under the guise of actually heading to a destination. I love creating false destinations. It’s got all the components of these shows that are already schizophrenic and then I build in a little of the destination for each one and then from there we can utilize the clips and videos from actual movies that no one ever celebrates.
Bobby: With these kind of shows involving all the clips and videos needed how do you go about getting all that put together and finding them?
Derrick: It’s a lot of work, between the writing and searching for the clips. We have to track people down. Sometimes there is something I really want to use, but I can’t. It’s really a back and forth, really strange process. It’s the weirdest thing I have ever created. The clips are basically characters in the show and we play off of them. I love the process, but I don’t recommend it to anybody though.
Bobby: When you have to reach out to these people for permission, do you have to fight with them a lot or do they try to make crazy demands?
Derrick: We had one of the clips in and we were going to deliver a show and then this knucklehead at the last minute came back and decided he wasn’t sure if he wanted to do it anymore and we were paying him way more than the clip was worth. He thought he knew all about the business and that we were trying to pull one over on him and we were like, “Dude, it’s a 30 second clip, we are not pulling anything over on you.” That kind of stuff happens once in a while, but most of the time people are pretty cool about it. When I did TV Carnage I was pretty much the master of my own domain so I could do whatever I wanted, but when you enter the TV world lawyers do not have a sense of humor. I would actually love to know what a lawyer laughs at; it’s probably the darkest crap in the world. There are a bunch of people here who help me track down people to get the clips and I was really jealous because they are on the phone everyday with these dingbats. I had to focus on my responsibilities on the show, but I would find these clips and really want to meet this person then here them on the phone talking about the craziest things and I am just drooling wanting to talk to these maniacs. But it’s still great because I get a lot of them on the show. I really want to create this universe where we bring on the people we find and celebrate them on the show.
Bobby: So it’s almost like taking the Wack Pack from Howard Stern and giving them their own show.
Bobby: That’s awesome because no one wants to see the same interview from the celebrities we see all the time.
Derrick: No they don’t, we want to see a revolving door of nut bars.
Bobby: How much freedom are you given for this show from Cartoon Network? Do they give you a lot of grief or let you do mostly whatever you want?
Derrick: I’m not saying this to kiss the bosses ass, but I think Mike Lazzo is a genius. He runs the Adult Swim side of things and he is a really good curator of weirdoes. When I talk to him about wanting to do something or get the scripts to him if he likes it he usually wants to make it even more insane. Those are great notes to get. When you’re making a show you have to deal with different levels of the network and some days you are just like “Oh my god, really?” But here it is really just an amazing place to make a show. You can do stuff that no other network would let you do and they have the confidence that you are going to be able to pull it off, so it’s really cool.
Bobby: I know this isn’t really what you are promoting, but you were also involved in the Drunk History series. Not sure how involved you were, but were curious how they go about making that show?
Derrick: Derek Waters who makes that show wrote on my show. He is just a super funny dude and had this idea of just filming people drunk talking about history. He basically comes over and we all have drinks and start talking casually until you eventually start noticing that every time you turn around there is a fresh drink in front of you. Then slowly the cameras start coming out and before you know it and hour has gone by but it felt like a few minutes. Then they get these smiles on their faces and you realize they got everything they wanted. When we were talking about it I told him we can do this one of two ways. I can do it where I am sophisticatedly drunk and still intelligible or I can just be hammered and you are going to have to put together some subtitles and he said just do it that way.
Bobby: The other thing that is so funny about that show is the reenactments where they are talking the way the drunken person telling the story is talking.
Derrick: Yeah, they basically have the lines for them to do and lip sync over. So there are these actors that have to learn this and lip sync someone’s slurred speech perfectly. Whenever a female is doing the drunk guys voice on that show I just lose my shit. (laughs)
Bobby: Have you guys officially been picked up for another season of Hot Package yet or are you still waiting?
Derrick: So far everything has been good with people watching it, reviews, and ratings so now we are at that frustrating time everyone goes through. I’m pretty overly honest with myself and if I didn’t like the show I would be just like “Well we gave it a shot”, but I really think we can do so many different fun things with this show so fingers crossed.
Bobby: I appreciate you taking the time to do this and looking forward to seeing more.
Derrick: Yeah, likewise.
For more information on this awesome series head over to http://video.adultswim.com/hot-package/