Exclusive: Ed Helms is Frank Drebin in Naked Gun Reboot (No Relation)

Robert Ben Garant was on a Television Critics Association panel for Comedy Central’s “@midnight” along with host Chris Hardwicke. When the panel ended, I found Garant in the hallway to talk about his movie projects. He is half of a writing team with Tom Lennon, who’s latest Hollywood project is a reboot of The Naked Gun starring Ed Helms.

I’ve been worried they’re only going to use the name Naked Gun, but Garant confirmed they are trying to write in the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker style of the original films, and the classic Airplane. “We are trying to reinvent the world because that world was very ‘Dragnet,’ but we’re trying to fit in 100 jokes a page,” Garant said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re very much embracing the style.”

Even the recasting of Leslie Nielsen’s character, Frank Drebin, comes with a lovely homage to a running gag from the original. “Our take is that Ed Helms is Frank Drebin, no relation,” Garant said. “That’s how he introduces himself.”

While this is a reboot, not necessarily a remake of the first film’s storyline, Garant gives a wink to keeping it in continuity. “Right now we’re calling it Episode IV – A New Hope,” Garant deadpanned. “That will change, but that’s the working title.”

The original Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Quad had Drebin (Nielsen) saving the Queen of England from assassination at a baseball game. Garant would neither confirm nor deny whether the Queen or a baseball game would be involved with his script.

“That’s too big of a spoiler, but it’s the world. It’s great. I’m a huge fan. Those movies are incredible. They’re so good.”

Garant did seem surprised when I asked if Helms would be dying his hair gray like Nielsen. Perhaps they hadn’t considered that yet. “Oh, I don’t know. He’s already kind of going gray. We’re making it pretty clear that he’s not Leslie Nielsen. Those are just too big of shoes to fill but we’re going to try to do as good as those. Those movies are so funny. They’re so solid.”

Lennon and Garant also write the lucrative Night at the Museum movies, of which a third is in pre-production. Ben Stiller will return, and new characters are being cast. “They’ve got Lancelot already. They haven’t started shooting but there’s a script. I’m sure it’ll be tweaked as the cast forms but it comes out next Christmas so they’ve got to already be building sets.”

Could Night at the Museum 3 be the end of a trilogy? Garant couldn’t reveal whether any aspect of the third Museum will be conclusive, and aptly pointed out that many supposed trilogies continued. “Spoiler alert, we can’t really say but they made Jurassic Park 4, they made Terminator 4. We’ll see what happens.”

We’ll have more news on The Naked Gun, because it’s a topsy-turvy world, and maybe the problems of two people don’t amount to a hill of beans. But this is our hill. And these are our beans!

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.