Exclusive Interview: Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant on Hell Baby

Hell Baby Robert Ben Garant

CraveOnline: You have a riff on Ashton Kutcher movies. Have you seen Jobs?

Thomas Lennon: Not yet.

Robert Ben Garant: No. I hear good things. I haven’t seen it.

I loved it. I’ve been defending it.

Robert Ben Garant: Haven’t seen it yet.

Thomas Lennon: He looks good. Haven’t seen it. We don’t get out to the movies a lot. We’re both parents.

It probably should’ve been a VOD movie, like Hell Baby was.

Thomas Lennon: We’re both. We’re a VOD and theatrical. I didn’t know how this works but apparently it’s a super terrific model that they do now.

Robert Ben Garant: Bachelorette, Arbitrage, it’s news to us but so far so good.

Thomas Lennon: New thing the kids are doing.

Are you still working on the Baywatch movie?

Thomas Lennon: Script is done. Script is one of my favorite scripts of ours I would say. It’s called Baywatch: Red Tide, with the implication being that we’re going to make six or eight or 10 of these Baywatch films is the plan.

Robert Ben Garant: They’re saying they’re going to make it.

Thomas Lennon: It seems to be going full speed ahead at Paramount.

Whether Hasselhoff or Pam Anderson end up agreeing to do it, did you write scenes for their characters?

Thomas Lennon: As soon as we talk about this, this will make front page news so we’ll say there certainly are roles for them. I won’t say that they’re necessarily starring in the film but also would certainly say that they’re in it. At least in the drafts we have written. Sometimes these things get taken out of context so I’d like to say clearly, that’s a big question for Paramount but in the last draft that we turned in, certainly they appear.

I assume this is a comedy version of Baywatch?

Thomas Lennon: Oh no, it’s a real version of Baywatch. Did somebody say it’s a comedy version of Baywatch? It’s funny.

Robert Ben Garant: It’s an action comedy.

Thomas Lennon: It’s as funny as the real “Baywatch.”

Robert Ben Garant: Heavier on action.

Thomas Lennon: Baywatch” itself was funny.

Robert Ben Garant: Really funny, which I didn’t remember until I watched a bunch of them.

Intentionally funny?

Thomas Lennon: They know. They know that it’s also funny. Also it’s fun to watch “Baywatch” because every woman enters a scene and the camera dips down her entire body. You’ll see.

Robert Ben Garant: Down to her knees and back up, and then she talks.

Thomas Lennon: Almost as if they’re scanning her.

Robert Ben Garant: Women enter, there’s a pause for the camera to check them out, and then we go back to her face and she says, “Trouble in tower seven!”

Thomas Lennon: We dip down and then we go back up. It’s pretty weird and they do it with the dudes sometimes.

Robert Ben Garant: Always, everybody.

Thomas Lennon: If a real packed dude walks in, they’ll dip down.

Robert Ben Garant: No, there’s as much beefcake as cheesecake.

Thomas Lennon: Oh no, there’s a lot of wieners in the original “Baywatch.”

Are you still working on Action No. 1?

Thomas Lennon: Yes, we are.

Has Nicolas Cage expressed interest in playing himself?

Robert Ben Garant: We had some really wonderful, weird back and forths with him.

Thomas Lennon: He read the script and I think he likes it. I don’t know if he’s going to be in it or not.

Robert Ben Garant: The last we heard they went back to him again with another offer. He said even if he doesn’t do it, he gives us permission to have someone else play him which is fascinating.

Thomas Lennon: Which would be interesting. There are some amazing ones.

Robert Ben Garant: There are some pretty funny Nicolas Cages out there.

It seems like something he’d be into.

Thomas Lennon: Oh no, he was. He’s read it and was.

Robert Ben Garant: And approved. It’s his story so he’s given us permission to do his story.

Thomas Lennon: I don’t know if he feels like him playing him maybe is too close to home. He was thinking of some major other movie star playing him which personally I find also very funny.

Robert Ben Garant: It’d be pretty great.

It’s win-win. You can’t go wrong either way.

Robert Ben Garant: Yeah, it’s pretty great.

You wrote a brilliant tell-all screenwriting book. Have any producers called you on it?

Thomas Lennon: Everyone who’s ever mentioned in it but no one in a negative way.

Robert Ben Garant: Everybody likes it.

Thomas Lennon: The biggest person is Nina Jacobson called us because we talked so much about Herbie, but I think we make a point of saying what an amazing executive she was. She really saved us during that terrible process. A lot of executives I’ve found do exactly what they do with our scripts. They skim the book, so many of them don’t know what’s in it and the fact that it’s mostly very upbeat. We love writing studio movies. It’s fun.

Robert Ben Garant: I think there’s also a perception that people think, “Oh my God, they’re showing how the sausages are made. This is such a tell all scandalous book.” But people in the industry know all that stuff.

Thomas Lennon: Oh yeah, they know that most people green lit movies they don’t really want to make, but through some weird decisions they had to.

Robert Ben Garant: It’s not news to them. We haven’t had any negative blowback at all.

Thomas Lennon: It’s been overwhelmingly positive.

Robert Ben Garant: In fact, it seems like every executive has read it. They’re all like, “Oh, I loved your book.”

Thomas Lennon: Whenever we talk about the book, I’d like to point out, just because the book has such an obnoxious title, every penny that we made from the book we gave to the USO.

I knew about that.

Thomas Lennon: Just because, God, we’d be dicks if we didn’t because we’re literally covered in bling and piles of money on the cover. It actually did go to something useful.

Has anyone taken your advice yet?

Thomas Lennon: Yes, a couple people have sold scripts. There was an article about a guy who’s a military history guy who sold a big movie to Warner Brothers.

Robert Ben Garant: Yeah, I read that article and he quotes our book as being his lead influence.

Thomas Lennon: Well, the book is in no way about writing. It’s about how to survive the studio system which is 10 times harder than writing. Writing is fun.

Since you wrote a Lindsay Lohan movie, have you seen The Canyons?

Thomas Lennon: Not yet. How’s she look?


Thomas Lennon: I hear she’s quite good.

I would say, to be fair, Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis couldn’t make that dialogue work.

Thomas Lennon: Now you’ve made me even more excited.

Robert Ben Garant: Now it sounds great!

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Shelf Space Weekly. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.