The iconic actor celebrates his season finale shocker with a huge smile on his face
Married...with Children ended its very successful, genre shattering run on June 9th, 1997. After eleven seasons on Fox, the Bundy clan parted ways, leaving an indelible legacy behind them. For better or worse, they changed the American television landscape. Now they reside in the hollowed halls of entertainment history as an iconic 80s era family. One that broke all the rules and laid the groundwork for everything else that has come in their wake. While most of its cast soon found work outside the genre once the show ended, David Faustino, who played Bud Bundy on two hundred and fifty-nine episodes, slowly drifted into quiet obscurity. Appearing in a handful of straight to DVD movies, he kept mostly quiet on the tabloid front. The young actor was able to fortunately buck his status as a "former childhood star" simply by forgoing any distasteful adventures held within the public eye.
Faustino didn't become a recluse by any means. Always eager to work, David took on numerous television guest spots and bit parts in various B movies over the years. In 2000, he teamed up with best friend and former star of Parker Lewis Can't Lose Corin Nemec for the comedy Killer Bud. Though it garnered a small cult fan base, the film quickly disappeared from the general consciousness. Despite its lofty ambitions, it did prove the duo to be a comedic force of unparalleled talent. Despite efforts to work together again, they soon parted ways. It wasn't until late last year that they finally found another project to collaborate on.
Star-ving is a new internet-only sitcom that follows Faustino on a series of misadventures that find him nearly dying from hunger, constantly being locked in jail with Kato Kaelin, and trying to kill himself on a regular basis. The series was created by Faustino and Nemec, along with producers Sam Henry Kass and Todd Bringewatt. It is the anti-Entourage. Focusing on Faustino and Nemec's struggle with life after fame, it's a hilarious, hyper-realistic live action cartoon that pulls from the trials and tribulations of their own lives. While it does jubilantly go over the top, nearly every joke has some basis in truth. It's the perfect antidote to all of these celebrity based reality programs currently choking our airwaves. Star-ving is changing the face of internet-based original programming in the same why Married...with Children helped define a new age of television twenty years ago.
Currently running on Sony's Crackle website, which offers movies, television shows, and original content, Star-Ving ends its exclusive twelve episode run this Friday with one blowout of a season finale. To celebrate a job well done, and to find out what else is in store for Star-ving's Faustino and Nemec, we hooked up with David for a quick chat. The following is our conversation:
First off, I want to commend you for going with the blood splatter on the back of the tighty whities as opposed to the cliched shit stain.
David Faustino: (Laughs) Blood is funnier than shit, for some reason. At least in this scenario.
Now, way back when Anchorman came out, we'd talked with Christina Applegate. She'd explained that you guys weren't seeing any money from the Married...With Children DVDs. Which is basically the basis for Star-Ving. You really didn't get any residuals from the show?
David Faustino: She said she wasn't making residuals from the show?
Yes. At that time, the DVDs had just started to come out. She was kind of upset about it.
David Faustino: Right, right. To be honest with you, Fox was under a cable contract at the time. They weren't a big network. We all signed on the dotted line. We made great weekly money. Residually, we got screwed. That is sort of the backbone for Star-ving. People just assumed that I am completely loaded. I do all right. I have to be careful. It's this business, and I didn't really make any residuals. I am living off what I make now and what I made off the show at the time. That initially became the basis of Star-ving. That is how we came up with the idea.
When you first set out to make this show, did you know that it would speak so loudly to what is going on with our economy today?
David Faustino: No. Not at all. We just went with it. My partners and I, Corin Nemec and Todd Bringewatt, and then we also have a fourth partner Sam Kass, who is also a writer on the show; we'd been pushing projects around town for quite some time. We'd had a little bit of success. We were working on certain things, but we were seeing mostly rejection on other things. We hit up against a lot of frustrations. Our partner, Todd, went off by himself. He came back the next day with a treatment called Star-ving. The logline was that it was Curb Your Enthusiasm meets the Anti-Entourage. Since we've made the episodes, we've now added 'on acid'. We never realized when we wrote it how far over the top we were going to take it. As we started to make the show, it took on a life of its own. It's a show that came out of frustration. Corin Nemec, who was on television for years, has been through a similar thing. We both had TV shows, we've had to hit that audition trail, and we were both frustrated. We were both going through divorces, and we decided to write about this stuff. And make it funny.
It really is a live action cartoon. How do you keep the pace you've set up for yourself? Is it easy to stay within the walls that you've built for yourself?
David Faustino: We were hesitant about the tone at first. But then, the more we started writing, the funnier we thought it was. We made a rule for ourselves in the writing sessions. If it makes us laugh out loud, it stays. Regardless if it fits within our lives. We stretched the boundaries of reality. That's the life it's taken on for itself.
Way back in 2001, you and Corin starred in the comedy Killer Bud. How come it's taken so long for you guys to find another project to work on together?
David Faustino: Corin and me have been friends since way back when he was on Webster. I had just started Married with Children. We would see each other at these teen beat parties, and around town. We became close. Our first movie was the one you mentioned. Killer Bud. That was the first thing we did. Though, I was on an episode of Parker Lewis Can't Lose. After working on Killer Bud, we knew we had something. We remained really good friends. We took some time off. He went to go do his thing. I was busy doing my thing. We got back together in 2005, and we formed a company.
Star-Ving also seems to be a slap in the face to the reality shows based on celebrities. Were you offered a lot of those in the past, and is this your answer to the glut of them?
David Faustino: Yes. I was offered a lot of reality shows in the past. I continue to be offered things like The Surreal Life. I did one in 2002, right after the attacks on the World Train Center. It was called Celebrity Bootcamp. It sounded exciting and cool when they presented it. When you get down to it, it was corny and cheesy. I learned my lesson. They are constantly throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at you to do these shows. Which is great if you are hurting. For us, we didn't want some reality show producer making money by exposing our lives when we could expose them ourselves. We can script them, and make them even funnier. And stupider.
Star-Ving has an amazing roaster of cameo appearances. Were these friends of yours? Or were you surprised to see that Ed Asner and Alan Thicke were willing to participated on the shocking levels that they did?
David Faustino: Oh, wait! I want to address a question you asked me that I forgot to explain. You asked me about the economy. And had that been a part of the plan. No, it wasn't. It just so happened that we were struggling, and that sort of story turned out to be very timely. A lot of people are struggling now, as we all now. But hey, they are able to get this entertainment for free at Crackle.com. They don't have to pay anything for it. It works out for the show itself, for its themes. As well as for people that need free entertainment right now.
I just watched the first couple of minutes of episode number eleven while I was on hold, and it perfectly encapsulates that plight. You scraping muffin crumbs off the ground is what this show is really about. And we can all identify with that at this current moment in time.
David Faustino: Definitely. With the guest stars, it was about all the elements of the universe coming together for me at the right time. I called in a lot of favors. Some of these people were friends; a lot of them were acquaintances. It was a real testament to the material, I have to say. When someone calls me up and wants me to do something, of course I am open to it. But I am not going to do it if there isn't anything interesting or funny about it. Everybody really responded to these scripts. They found the show to be really funny. And that's how it all came together. In short, it was partially them doing me a favor. And partially them really enjoying what they had read. They liked the vision of it.
I think the most surprising guest turn so far was Ed Asner. How did you get him involved and willing to go to the lengths he went to? He is doing some wacky stuff that I would never expect out of the man.
David Faustino: I was shocked that he was willing to play and go as far as he did with us. I had a personal appearance with Ed at a party out on Long Island. We went together. Of course I had my tactic of the night. That was to woo him over. I told him about the show. We had a couple of drinks together. It really just went from there. He lent me an ear, and he really listened. He liked the idea of playing a double character. He didn't make hardly any money on it. He did it out of love, and he did it as a favor. I would like to have him back in some sort of reoccurring role if at all possible.
Can you talk about getting the entire cast of Married With Children back? Because that is one of my favorite episodes. How exciting was it to have your TV family back?
David Faustino: It was very exciting. First of all, it was nerve racking. It's the Internet. The new media pay rate is not up to par yet. I was asking them to do it for a tiny fraction of what they are used to being paid. I was also executive producing and writing. I had a lot of hats that day. And it was literally the first shot of the day. It was the first set-up. That was a bit nerve racking. We didn't have a well-oiled machine yet. But the good news is, it all went smoothly. They all had a lot of fun. Seth Green was in that episode as well. Seth is another guy that I grew up with. We auditioned against each other for our entire careers. People always seem to mistake us for each other. He gets it worse than me. He gets Bud Bundy a lot. I thought it would be funny, because people are always asking me if they are going to make a Married with Children movie. I always say, "I don't know. And if they do, it will probably be ten or fifteen years from now. They will probably recast the entire thing and throw us all a little bone." I thought it would be funny if that actually happened with our original cast. And I was the one that had been replaced. Of course I would be replaced by Seth Green.
That episode is hilarious. This show is proving to be pretty popular. What are the plans for DVD? Or are there any plans?
David Faustino: Sony, who owns Crackle.com, has some ideas. I know that they are excited about the show. I believe that they think its pretty funny. I believe that it is doing pretty well. I know that they are talking about doing a first season DVD. I don't have the details on that. It is in discussion. They are also talking about the future of the show, and what that might be. Your guess is as good as mine at this point. I am a pawn in the game.
Do you think you'll go past the twelve episodes?
David Faustino: Those twelve episodes are the first season. Basically, we have a second season written. Its just a matter of Sony and Crackle.com giving us the green light as to when we are to go on. I know they are excited about it. We are at the end of the first season, so we'll go back to the table and figure out what our next move is.
How long ago did you shoot these episodes? With the Steroid episode that went up last Friday, they do seem rather timely and topical.
David Faustino: Right. The episodes were all block-shot within a month. It was very challenging. It was a ball doing it. We had a blast. But it was a challenge in that we had to do twelve episodes in less than four weeks. We had to keep track of all those episodes, with about five scenes in each episode. Maybe there's wardrobe changes. Maybe there is blood on your face. We were constantly trying to figure out which episode we were in, because we were literally flying through each episode at a really fast pace. It was a real challenge.
This is probably a dumb question, but since you've gone on the internet, have you had a problem with people coming up and offering you food, or money, or shelter?
David Faustino: No. I think people are more interested, or intrigued as to whether or not we are lying. Or how much we are lying and exaggerating. People are more interested and fascinated by that. They want to know how much of this stuff is true. And the answer to that question is: A lot of the show, at least 90% of it, is based in some kind of reality. There is a seed behind almost everything we are doing. Almost everything. We never killed our housekeeper. That is the 10% I am talking about that is over the top. But it is all based in some sort of reality. Most of this stuff did happen to us. We take it and twist it, and exaggerate it until it is funny.
Can you tell me anything about what you are planning for the season finale that is going to start airing this Friday? Do you have something special planned for it?
David Faustino: Oh, yeah! It is going to be a great one. It is either my favorite, or one of my two favorites, of the run. We definitely go out with bang, my friend. Some people will be offended, but most people will be laughing. It is a pretty heavy episode. We are going on a vacation on Corin's scooter, to Kentucky. We are going to visit his old uncle Hugh, who lives in the backwoods of Kentucky, and we run into some snafus.
Awesome! I can't wait to watch that. Can you tell me about this feature film that you and Corin are working on called The Bollywood Boys?
David Faustino: We are in final discussions. Our final negotiations are being worked out. As long as I've been in this business, now thirty-four years, I don't put it past anything to fall apart at the last minute. Because that's the name of the game. That's how things happen. As it looks right now, financing is on the table. It looks like it's a go. but again, until I show up on set, I never now.
One last question. How hard was it to get Jeremy Miller to come in and do the whole scheisen video scene? That is so gloriously over the top, yet disgusting!
David Faustino: I really had to finesse that. He was a team player. He had a lot of fun. It was cool for him to be able to get together with Alan Thicke and Tracy Gold. He was just a team player. He had a ball doing it. I don't think he knew what sort of frame we were going to take. He didn't know that's what we were going to write. We do that to everybody. The bottom line is, people know if they come here, they are going to get fucked with a little bit. No body takes it as bad as Corin and I. We get it the worst. They all know that. That's the fun of the show. Everyone gets teased.