Meet The Next Mad, Crow & Servo of MST3K. Plus, a 72-HOUR CHALLENGE!
Hello Again, MST3K Revival Leaguers!
I know – it's been a few days since the last update. Things just keep getting busier around here!
I've been hard at work preparing the dishes for this year's MST3K TURKEY DAY MARATHON, so I hope you're planning to save some room on Thursday to join us for an extra-large helping of cheesy movies.
Anyway, we've now got just 18 days left in our Kickstarter, and there's a lot to talk about... So let's get right into this morning's update, huh?
- NEW CHALLENGES: Just 72 HOURS to reach $2.75M before Turkey Day '15.
- NEW BONUS REWARD: More classic episodes free if we get there, plus…
- MAJOR BONUS REWARD, if we reach $3.3M before the end of Turkey Day '15!
- PLUS, BIG NEWS: Joel's pick for MST3K's next Mad, Crow and Servo!
Turns out, there's a lot of math involved in running a Kickstarter campaign. In case you haven't been obsessing over the numbers as much as I have, here's an important one:
This Thursday isn't just Turkey Day 2015, or MST3K's 27th birthday… it's also exactly halfway through our Kickstarter.
To make sure we can reach all four of our goals by December 11, I want to make sure we don't fall behind. So, since last week's "24 Hour Challenge" worked so well that you MSTies reached it in just 12 hours, today I've got a new challenge for you:
If we reach $2.75M before the MST3K Turkey Day '15 Marathon begins, we'll add another bonus reward – free downloads of three MORE classic episodes – for all pledges at $35 and up!
How's that for a little Turkey Day deal? If we can raise half the money we need for our full season by the halfway mark of our Kickstarter – 12pm EST on Thursday – we'll add another $30 worth of free classic episodes to the $35+ reward levels. That means the $35 package will now include $60 worth of free episodes!
Pretty cool, huh?
So if you're still at a lower level, or haven't gotten around to pledging yet, TODAY is a great time to INCREASE YOUR PLEDGE to $35 or higher. And remember: no matter when you pledge, you still won't be charged anything until our Kickstarter ends on December 11.
Then, if we can reach $3.3M – our second goal – before the Turkey Day '15 Marathon ends, we've got a much bigger bonus reward for you… and it's something that a lot of you have been asking for!
I don't want to get ahead of myself, so I'll tell you about that challenge in another update this week. Hardcore MSTies, I'll just give you a little hint: if you help us make the newest episodes of MST3K, you might just get to see the oldest episodes of MST3K.
And to help you beat those two challenges, we'll also be releasing some NEW REWARD PACKAGES tomorrow morning, and opening up more chances to get some of the rewards that are already sold out. So, be sure to check back tomorrow!
Last Monday, I introduced you to Jonah Ray, who I'm hoping will be the next host of MST3K, and a lot of you seemed pretty happy about it. And, since I'm terrible at keeping secrets, I thought maybe today I'd go ahead and confirm a few more casting rumors I've seen out there.
Oh look, everyone! It's another video!
Now remember, it's like I said in the video: we can't sign final, official agreements with anyone until the Kickstarter ends and we know how many episodes we'll be making… but you know, things are looking pretty good. Anyway, as you saw in the video, this time I've got three future MST3K cast members to introduce!
Let's do these one at a time, huh?
First, I'm hoping that Felicia Day will join us as "Kinga Forrester," MST3K's next Mad… and Dr. Clayton Forrester's daughter!
Since Felicia is kind of "nerd royalty," a lot of you might already know her: she was in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, she created a killer web series called The Guild, and launched the YouTube channel Geek & Sundry.
Actually, you know, I'll come back to Felicia in a minute. First, I want to tell you a little bit about Kinga Forrester, who is also new to MST3K.
When I started imagining the next season of MST3K, I knew we'd need the next Mad to be someone worthy of the Mad title and someone who could live up to the great work of Trace, Josh, Frank and Mary Jo. But I also thought we needed a new "flavor" – something that would lead to new situations. So, right away, I knew that I wanted the next Mad to be someone who could be both comedic and threatening... and if possible, both at the same time!
I also knew, from the start, that the next Mad should be a woman.
Part of that inspiration came from seeing what Mary Jo Pehl did with the role of Pearl Forrester. As Pearl, Mary Jo – or MJ, as we called her – could be funny in so many different ways… but while she was a woman, the humor never came from Pearl being female -- that just happened to be a great coincidence, and a tribute to how great MJ was in that part. And I know her performance stuck with a lot of you too, because any time we did appearances for MST3K or Cinematic Titanic, there was always a long line of folks waiting for their turn to lavish praise on her!
So, ever since I started thinking about the future of MST3K, I think I've known the next Mad needed to be another formidable woman in the Forrester family line.
I don't want to give away too much about Kinga's character yet, because I think we'll have a lot of fun with that during the new season, so I'll just tell you two important things:
The first thing I realized about Kinga was that she needed to have red hair. I know that might seem sort of superficial, but it’s part of the way I work, off a series of visual cues: I have to “see” it first, and then I work backwards to make sense out of it. The red hair came to me because I've always felt the Forrester clan were from Scandinavian backgrounds – mainly because MST3K has such deep roots in the Midwest, and especially Minnesota. (Plus, the Swedish usually aren’t portrayed as super villains, and I think it’s time we did something to fix that.)
The other thing I knew was that the next Mad should be someone who could be threatening, and could have moments of true irrational rage. (Those kinds of people scare the sh*t out of me, but they're also so much fun to write for!) I think I started to imagine Kinga as a character like Alice's Queen of Hearts… to the point where I actually started describing her to others as Queen Kinga, even though she's not married.
At the same time, I had no idea who should play Kinga. A few times, I would look online for actors that seemed to fit the description in my head, but none of them seemed right.
And then, one day, I came across Felicia Day.
I don't remember where I first saw Felicia, but I remember knowing right away that there was something really interesting about her: both the way she looked and the way she behaved. She was beautiful, and yet, so capable of being character-y too: I suppose that makes her "adorkable." Anyway, I checked out her seminal webseries, The Guild, and was just delighted. She was like a geek Mary Richards from The Mary Tyler Moore Show! And then I saw her in Dr. Horrible, and again, I was just so impressed.
Even after that, though, I wasn't 100% sure. I didn't know if she'd be interested, and I've never really gotten in touch with anyone I don't know to join the MST3K cast. (For example, the entire old cast of MST3K lived near each other in Minneapolis.) I don't really start my process by calling agents and whatnot, so I just didn't pursue it.
And then, about 6 or 8 weeks ago at the Salt Lake ComicCon, I got a message from my booking agent, saying, "Did you know that Felicia Day really wants to meet you?" Interesting. So we met in the green room that afternoon, and she was funny and sweet. She's kind of a goof, but there's also this manic side to her that will let her do "crazy." So, I sent her a message over Twitter:
(How's that for a historic document?)
Things moved quickly after that. We started making plans to tape the Kickstarter video, I had a costume designer get to work on her MST3K suit, my people started talking to her people, and that's about it. Now, the situation is the same with Felicia as everyone else: we haven't got any formal deal in place yet because we weren't sure how this Kickstarter would turn out, but I feel like it's probably going to happen.
After she said she wanted to join MST3K, I also got around to reading her new book, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir. It's a great read, and I felt like it might be an easy way to understand her more. (Plus, now I can finally do my George C. Scott impression from the movie Patton when I see Felicia: “You magnificent bastard, I read your book!” You should too!)
Anyway, here's what I gleaned from it: Felicia's secret power might be that she is fine being an outsider. And I also just think she can pull off being likable, intimidating and "crazy" all at the same time: a total wild card! As the next Mad, she's gonna need all that and more.
I can't wait for you to meet Kinga.
But wait... there's more!
I'm also inviting comedians Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn to become the next voices of Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo!
When it came time to think about casting the new voices of Tom Servo and Crow, I had a feeling that our best bet was to find some talented young comedians. That was how our original casts came together too, back in Minneapolis, and that seemed to work out pretty well. But for a while, that's as far as it went, because it's hard to cast Crow and Servo until you've got a host to put them with.
Once Jonah agreed that he wanted to become the next host, things started to move again. And since he would be the one in the movie riffing trenches with Crow and Servo, I felt it was important to let Jonah help find the right people. There had to be real chemistry to our choices, not just casting.
(Also, for you Mystery Science Historians, this style of "finding talent" has always been part of MST3K. When the show started, I invited Josh and Trace. Later, Josh saw Mike in a club and thought he was great. Once I hired Mike, he suggested Frank and Bridget as writers. Bridget suggested Mary Jo. So it goes.)
Anyway, Jonah told me to check out Hampton and Baron. I watched a ton of their videos online and thought they were pretty great, so the next time I was in LA – about a year ago – we went out to eat together and had our first "official meeting," which really just means that I picked up the check.
After that first meeting, I knew that I liked them both a lot, but I still hadn't decided. So, I asked them to do a "test session" on Skype, and gave them some lines to read as Crow and Servo. Just to see what they'd do with it, you know? And sure, they did great first reads on the respective characters, but it was the stuff between takes that kind of took my breath away. They were just so great at riffing off each other and so quick on their feet. I remember thinking it was like going down the rabbit hole and seeing a glimpse of the future MST3K. Then, when it came time to make our Kickstarter video, I asked them to help out.
During that shoot, I realized that Hampton did a killer impression of Trace's Crow, but I actually cautioned him against it, because it could make it harder to evolve the part later, when he'll need to do impressions and dialects – which is a pretty big part of the job. I also told both of them that it would take them some time to figure out their own versions of Crow and Servo. (If you watch anyone on MST3K when they start out, I think it takes at least a good 3 to 6 shows to get your movie-riffing legs. You just have to kind of feel it out once you're in the room.)
Baron even called me after he saw the first Kickstarter video, to tell me he already has ideas for how he wants to tweak his Tom Servo. So maybe they'll sound a little different over time, but just watching them mess around on set, I know we've found the right people for the jobs.
Also, before I go, I'll tell you what I told Hampton and Baron: I don't want them to make "sound-alike" Tom Servos and Crows. The bots aren't like the Muppets: they've always been manifestations of the people running them. Kevin didn't sound exactly like Josh, and Bill didn't sound exactly like Trace. And the way I see it, the point of being a movie riffing robot is that you can do a bunch of voices and dialects – not just sound like the last guy.
Plus, personally, it always feel a bit hollow to me when you have to cast people who sound like the original character. I think it's much more important to have people have great comic instincts, the right chemistry, and who can be inventive with the character. With Hampton and Baron, we're getting all of that and more.
So, there you go. I've revealed both of the mysterious figures in that picture on our Kickstarter page, and I've spilled all of my casting secrets. Now you're all caught up with that leak that somehow appeared in Entertainment Weekly last week, after I told them everything in an interview. (I told you, I don't like keeping secrets.)
Anyway, now that everything is out in the open, we can update that picture.
Here we go:
Oh, look at that. A new silhouette.
Maybe I do still have another secret I haven't shared yet!
Anyway, the next season of MST3K is starting to look pretty exciting, huh? That's why I hope we can keep up the pace and get to a full season of 12 episodes next year, and give the next cast a chance to show the networks – and you – what they can do.
Now, while I get started on your next update, I hope you'll join me in the comments to welcome Jonah, Felicia, Baron and Hampton aboard. And remember:
KEEP CIRCULATING THE URL!
Cheers and Thanks,
Tom Servo, internet sensation, here to remind you that we still need your help to spread the word and get MST3K back for a full 12-episode season. Lucky for you, spreading the word is simple!
Just post one of these messages to Twitter & Facebook right now... and not just the top one, people!
- MORE NEWS! @JoelGHodgson reveals @FeliciaDay @barvonblaq & @HamptonYount are on board to help #BringBackMST3K! http://bit.ly/mst3k-update8
- If #BringBackMST3K hits $2.75M by Thurs @ 12pm ET, all backers $35+ get SIX FREE classic episodes. Pledge now! http://bit.ly/mst3k-update8
- Our Kickstarter to #BringBackMST3K is 45% of the way to the final goal of 12 NEW FULL EPISODES of @mst3k. Join now! http://bit.ly/mst3k-update8