"Hoot" Director Wil Shriner on What It Takes to Be Funny
- Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Wil Shriner gets "funny." Although the veteran actor, director, writer and comedian insists he’s no comic genius, his record speaks for itself.
He’s been on more late-night shows than he can count, hosted his own television talk show (“The Wil Shriner Show,” in 1987), acted in dozens of films and directed episodes of the hit comedies “Becker,” “Frasier” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
A native New Yorker who attended journalism school at the University of Florida, Shriner is returning to writing with his latest gig, a film developed from the Carl Hiaasen children’s novel, “Hoot.”
A columnist with the Miami Herald and an ardent environmentalist, Hiaasen is known primarily for his adult fare, which includes novels like “Tourist Season,” “Double Whammy” and “Striptease.” Hiaasen also wrote this screenplay with Shriner, who is directing and co-producing the film as well. Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who is co-producing, also has a small part. “Parrotheads” will appreciate the PG-film’s score, which serves up five brand new Buffet tunes.
“Hoot” tells the tale of Roy Eberhardt (Logan Lerman, “A Painted House,” “The Patriot”), an only son who is constantly on the move, thanks to nomadic parents. This time, their new home is South Florida, where Roy finds the courage to fight back against a bully (Eric Phillips), only to be forced by his parents to apologize. Logan finds a cause when he discovers that the construction of a local pancake house is endangering some owls. So he goes to work with his friends, and learns that kids can make a difference.
Crosswalk talked to Shriner about “Hoot,” his buddy Buffett, and what it takes to be funny these days. Here’s what he had to say. ...
Crosswalk.com: Where did you get your sense of humor?
Wil: I first discovered my sense of humor in Catholic school. I took great personal joy in getting my best friend in trouble then, watching him get a smack from one of the nuns. That’s where I get my kicks.
CW: So you went to Catholic school?
Wil: Yeah, but I went to a lot of schools. I was an altar boy. Way back in the Latin days.
CW: Well, you’re practically a comic genius.
Wil: I’m no genius. I’m just a kid with dream.
CW: Why did you decide to do this film? It’s different from your usual fare.
Wil: I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale. Jimmy [Buffett] had bought the rights to the book. We were friends and he asked me to read it and see what I thought. We both thought it would make a really good movie. So we all flew down to the Keys, and Carl and I came down and sat around over a fish sandwich. He had some reservations because “Striptease” had not turned out to be the movie he wanted. I said I wanted to stay really loyal to the book, and that I would want him to stay in it with me the whole time. I attended journalism school at the University of Florida, and I was a writer, so I said I would write the screenplay and direct the film. Walden Media, who has done a lot of great children’s films, had originally passed on the book, but I guess this combination worked. When they saw everyone who was attached to the project, they said it was a go and off we went. We got it made on schedule on budget, 42 days in Florida on principal photography.
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