Fraggle Rock movie and the Weinstein Company. The issue was all about one word: Edgy. The studio wanted to make Fraggle Rock edgier so that it could appeal to an older crowd.
We went right to the source and sat down with Corey to find out the truth behind the rumors, as well as the story behind the sequel to his first film, Hoodwinked, what projects he’s got coming up and just what makes him one of the coolest geeks in Hollywood.
What is the fate of Fraggle Rock? Will Hoodwinked 2 ever make it to the theater? Why did Will Ferrel’s Land of the Lost suck so hard that it is now being suggested as a way to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf? All the answers are below.
YBMW: Ok, so let’s dive into this. Going back to when you were a kid: what were your favorite shows and movies and cartoons and what sort of toys did you play with?
Cory: Let’s see, I think – this is going to sound cliché – but Star Wars, A New Hope, that was the first PG movie I convinced my mom to let me see, and it was kind of what I remember opened up the world and made the world bigger to me, as far as the type of movies I was going to go see, the types of stories I was excited about telling myself someday. So Star Wars was a big influence. I would collect every single action figure since the dawn of that movie. And all the t-shirts, I was part of the Star Wars Fan Club.
We went to every Disney movie, and I was big on story records. I think Star Wars even had a story record – but just about any movie back then would come out eventually with an LP, and since you couldn’t own the movie at home, in any kind of home video situation, I would always listen to the story records. I really got into reliving my favorite movies on audio, which is interesting – I don’t know what effect this really had directly on me. I remember when Star Wars or something else, a favorite film like Time Bandits or something would go on cable, I would sit in front of the TV with my tape recorder and just tape record the whole movie, just the audio. And then I’d sit around and listen to it. And I knew the movie well enough that I could kinda play it in my head.
And so, I guess, thinking about it now maybe that’s what’s helped me to remember and visualize a movie when I couldn’t watch it again. I was very visual from a very early age. I also grew up drawing cartoons; a lot of people thought that’s what I was gonna do for a living. From a very young age – even from like 10 years old, I was getting hired as a cartoon illustrator. And so that visualization of an idea or a gag gave way to, you know, listening to things on tape recorder, my brother and sister and I would record radio shows and stuff on my tape recorder. Whatever tool was available to us. Then we got into puppets. It’s like, “oh, ok, now it’s theatrical, now we can build little props and little cardboard sets and put on a whole show for family or the local daycare, whatever, and we got very elaborate.
And then somebody gave us a Super-8 camera, a friend of the family. And that’s when it kinda felt like, “well here’s all these elements that I’ve been interested in, in one thing.” Like drawing cartoons became storyboarding, puppets became, you know, costumes and make up and creature effects, and audio became post production, you know, ‘cause we kept gathering sound effects and stuff, and now we were gathering visual effects. I was always kind of a performer – I grew up doing stand up comedy and sketch comedy. So it’s like all the disciplines and all the fun of all the other art forms come together into one thing. And so by around 11 or 12, filmmaking was it for me. And I checked out every book in the library that I could, and that has been my obsession since then. It’s kind of been a direct laser line. Having fun with other art forms along the way, but always focused on that end result.
The Muppets were also a huge influence on me; I would watch the Muppet Show every week and Sesame Street was born the year I was born, so I really kind of grew up with the Muppets.
I was from that late seventies Hanna-Barbera generation.
And Hanna-Barbera kind of owned Saturday morning, for 4 hours. This was before there were 4 or 5 different networks where kids could watch cartoons at any time, so Saturday morning became a precious commodity and my brother and sister and I, we had the morning scheduled out. We would debate, you know, which of the 3 channels to be on from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. And so we were all about Hanna-Barbera stuff, like, you know, Scooby Doo, Speed Buggy and Shmoo and Jabberjaw, and Dynomutt. I wasn’t into the really straight up superhero shows, like Super Friends. But I was way into the sillier ones, like Captain Caveman and Hong Kong Phooey. I was a big Hong Kong Phooey fan. And then there were the Sid and Marty Krofft shows, too. You look back on them now, and it seems they’re cheesy and dated and laughable, but they were a big influence on me.
YBMW: So, speaking of the Sid and Marty Krofft thing – and especially since you’re working on an updated version of something – what did you think of the Land of the Lost movie?
Cory: I was kind of amazed at how horribly wrong it went. Because I’m a fan of all of the ingredients.I guess we all have to learn this over and over again – it had a lot of great ingredients that don’t go well together. I love orange juice, and I love Coca Cola, but I sure wouldn’t pour them in the same glass and then drink them. people love seeing Will Ferrell be a bad boy and be naughty and be stupid and be drunk and be R rated – or even PG-13 – and people love fantasy adventure films for kids and family audiences. But it just didn’t go together. And so, there were parts of it I loved – one of my favorite parts was the score. Michael Giacchino is like the new John Williams to me. And his score was so funky and crazy; it had a banjo, with Planet of the Apes horns, it was a crazy score.
I like Brad Silberling, and I love that it swung for the fences, but those were two great tastes that did not go well together.
YBMW: Did you learn any of the what not to do lessons for Fraggle Rock?
Cory: Um, yeah, I think that with a lot of beloved properties that have been turned into movies, we see time and time again, that if you stray from the core root inspiration that made it successful, you’re doomed. If you take a show like Wild Wild West and change everything about it, then the core fans that remember that title, they don’t want it. And new people coming to it don’t care about the core title.
So for Fraggle Rock – to answer your question – there are gonna be a lot of new things in it and influences in ways that the Fraggles are engaging our culture today, that they didn’t in the show 20 years ago. But if we stay true to the tone of the series, and the intent that Jim Henson had, which was this child-like charming faith in mankind, that we lose by the time we’re, you know, 15 years old.
You know, if we can remember that charming innocence that the Fraggles represent; we gotta keep that. There’s a lot of comedy in that. There’s a lot of comedy that Pixar gets out of that. But if we forget that and try to jab at the latest video game or make a joke about the iPad or have one of the characters be a drunk or whatever seems to make a kid’s property hip for American movie audiences, that’s where people just get lost.
They get lost in why they’re even making a movie for that property.
I’m so interested to see what they do with the new Muppet movie, but I’m also hopeful that they don’t get too excited about, you know, the new influences of things like the Judd Apatow movies.
I think Jason Segel and Nick Stoller are great, creative, funny guys. But I hope that what they bring to it is what they remember loving about the Muppets, and not what the pressures that this new modern world bring to every movie. There’s immense pressure when you’re developing anything to try to – I don’t know – outdo the last trend-setting thing that came out. And if you just relax and look at what you have in your hand and say, “what do I have? I have this property that means a certain thing to millions of people. Let’s stay true to that.”
And I really believe that that’s why Batman, James Bond, Star Trek, these reboots worked even with new actors and new writers. Somebody went back to the roots of the tree, and said “why did this catch fire as a pop culture phenomenon in the first place? What was fun about it, what was meaningful about it, what was powerful about it? Let’s stick to our guns about that, and let’s not worry about what the Batmobile looks like. People are gonna throw bottles at us for changing the Batmobile.” People are gonna go nuts. But at the end of the day, they had everyone’s respect because they kept what all the fans remember getting excited about in the first place.
I had an opportunity to talk to Seth Green. Every year at Comic Con I try to touch base with him. I just have a respect for all the crazy stuff he’s done, especially with Robot Chicken. He’s taken many properties and riffed on them and made fun of them. And somehow Robot Chicken manages to make fun of things but also show that they also love all those old kooky things. And the one piece of advice he had for Fraggle Rock was: as long as you put stuff in that only a fan could know, you have them. And they know you’re one of them.
So there’s stuff in Fraggle Rock where there are nods to past episodes I’m trying to put in things where there’s a mention of a minor character from season 2. There’s a mention of a game of rock hockey, which Red Fraggle plays. So that the fans in the audience at least know “he comes from where we come from”. So that if you have to change the clothes that Gobo is wearing, that no longer becomes the issue. Whether or not Captain Kirk is wearing the exact same uniform he wore in the last movie is not the issue. It’s, you know, “does he reference the Kobayashi Maru?”
Referencing the greatest stuff in that property is where you keep the fans, and you keep them hooked, and they are on your side. And I’m doing everything I can to make sure those fans stay on my side and understand that I’m trying to deliver for them. As well as bring in the new people.