People in Hollywood like to keep their jobs. It’s their world, their livelihood and that’s why anonymity on notoriety is key, unless it’s way in the past where they weren’t involved, like the big to-do with 1963’s “Cleopatra” or the fact that “Hello, Dolly” caused a lot of financial heart problems, or if it’s something they can fob off on someone else. That’s why Hollywood producer Peter Dragon (Jay Mohr) of DragonFire Films isn’t a copy of one person in Hollywood, but many people, made up of different stories. According to Chris Thompson, the creator of “Action”, who appears prominently in the interviews on this godsend of a two-disc set, Joel Silver sat down with him and other writers of the show and told stories of his experiences, what most of America outside of Hollywood would find too shocking or just too unpleasant to watch. “Action” was cancelled because of low ratings and because most of America, according to the writers, didn’t watch the show for those reasons. But here it is, for those of us who like good, bawdy, funny, and filthy television and also know people who could use a strong injection of it.
Jay Mohr doesn’t introduce us to Peter Dragon by having him sit at his desk, explaining his mantras to his hapless president of production, Stuart Glazer (Jack Plotnick). He doesn’t have a huge monologue explaining why he loves Hollywood, why he breathes the rarified air of money, sex, power, and all else that goes into making this industry pump out product for the rest of the country to sit in movie theaters for a few hours and watch, hypnotized, like Pavlov’s dogs. When we first see Peter Dragon, parking in an “Employee of the Month” space reserved for commissary chef Manny Sanchez, gabbing on his cell phone, Mohr tear-a***s into this role, towering over Manny, explaining to him angrily and energetically how his past movies have made the studio over a billion dollars and “that makes me employee of the f*****g century!” It’s not certain how much of this is a satire of Hollywood. Certainly there are some exaggerations, and some fictional elements created to move the show along, but all that can be done is to play a guessing game over it, one of the more fun reasons to watch “Action”. Illeana Douglas plays the best joke on the show, Wendy Ward, who used to play the elephant princess on a children’s TV show and now is a hooker in Hollywood. Peter likes her because unlike everyone else in Hollywood who kisses his a*s or tromps on his a*s like studio chief Bobby Gianopolis (Lee Arenberg), she’s honest with him and actually reads the scripts he’s given to see which are crap and which are bankable. Therefore, he gives her a high-powered job in his production company, working alongside him on his latest project, “Beverly Hills Gun Club”, written by Adam Rafkin (Jarrad Paul) whom Peter doesn’t like because through the wheeling and dealing in Hollywood and crossed wires, they got the wrong script from the “wrong Jew”. Alan Rifkin and another Beverly Hills-themed action picture is what he wanted, but he has this, and he’s $250,000 shorter.
Name anything you can think of in Hollywood. Drugs. Alcohol. Temperamental and drug-abusing stars. 22-year-old directors. Buddy Hackett. Yes, Buddy Hackett’s here and you’ll find everything you read here on this show. Hackett plays Uncle Lonnie, Peter’s chief of security who is responsible for the most outrageous meet-cute ever seen in any movie or TV show, when he accidentally keeps driving, even though Wendy is stuck on the car, with part of her fur coat trapped in the car door. There’s also a bevy of buxom women, a pretentious and decisive restaurant Maitre’d, and so much golden comedy that’s hard for any reviewer not to ruin. But I won’t. I want to. I want to tell you about the iguana faced with Buddy Hackett and a gun. I want to tell you about Adam tear-gassed by a studio security guard when he’s only trying to find the stage where the “Beverly Hills Gun Club” table-read is happening. I want to tell you about the cameos by Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock (sex tape Sandra Bullock), Salma Hayek and David Leisure (Joe Isuzu David Leisure or Empty Nest David Leisure. You pick). I want to tell you about Peter’s ultimately pointless attempts to try to ingratiate himself with a shocked American public. However, it’s all there for you to see. Whether we were created by a god looking for a good time or evolution, we were given the capability to laugh because it was thought that “Action” would exist one day. It joins the ranks of Monty Python, the Zucker brothers of “Airplane!” and “Naked Gun” and whatever else makes us laugh that’s smart, witty and full of life that can be revisited over and over and over again. And then over again for more laughs.
With these two discs, wield the power to skip the audio commentaries. Executive producer Don Reo, writers Dave Jeser, Matt Silverstein and others, and Jarrad Paul speak during “Love Sucks”, “Dead Man Floating” and “One Easy Piece”, but it’s better to laugh during the show alone or with friends, than listening to these guys do it. They’re only good for revealing the tidbit about Illeana Douglas having reservations about playing a hooker, after the pilot was shot. Other than that, they don’t remember much about the actual episode productions, or anything that could be useful in learning about the history of “Action”. However, the 25-minute set of interviews on disc two chronicling that exact history is worth however many dollars are spent on this. Jay Mohr’s there as well as Joel Silver and creator Chris Thompson who has got to be the wryest man in Hollywood. He deadpans his love for money, in that it pays for hookers and drugs. Mohr not only remembers his time on the show, but is immensely savvy about the problems encountered when low ratings emerged. He’s got quite a mind when it comes to Hollywood. The last treasure of this set is “Trust Me: Useful Words and Phrases Every Producer Must Know”, presented in the form of a red Blackberry with twelve words and phrases defined by clips from “Action”. This is Hollywood, television style, folks! Buy it quickly and laugh!