Steve Zacharias [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Happy Friday to you all, and I hope our (probably mostly) American readers enjoyed a wonderful 4th of July celebration, and are probably reading this in a semi-catatonic state after realizing that there is probably still work to be done as the 4th landed on a Thursday. Best of luck to you all, and fear not, the weekend is upon you!

Today we have a very interesting interview with a very interesting and insanely talented interview subject. Today we are talking with the brilliant comedy writer Steve Zacharias. Now, there is a thing that tends to happen here at Trainwreck’d Society, that our regular reader(s) may notice. We talk to a lot of people who have written or co-written on some films that I personally (speaking as just Ron here) fucking LOVE. But with that, sometimes the people who actually worked very hard on a script and story, have their work completely twisted around and completely rearranged so much that it barely represents their original ideas, but for legal reasons they still get paid and get the credit. It’s not every time, but sometimes it happens. And in the case of our interview subject today, Steve Zacharias has had it happen on (at least) three occasions, as I learned in his responses. Two of which I provoked myself, and a third that came unprovoked, and shocked me quite a bit. In the third case, it was pretty much stolen from him, which is even more uncool. I’m talking about a series that ran for one season, and sadly returned, know as The Brink on HBO. The other two will be very obvious.

But, the saving grace of it all is that even though I loved the projects that Steve may not have cared much for himself, I get to image how wonderful, and most likely different, the projects would have been if Steve had gotten the films to go the way he wanted. That doesn’t help the fact that the projects will most likely never get made, but it does leave me to believe that without the baseline incredible talent of Steve Zacharias, the films he is responsible for that I love so much would have probably be absolute dogshit without him. I hope he can find solace in that.

Still, Steve has an abundance of credits that he should and is proud of that were followed closely or entirely on his idea. I mean, fucking Revenge of the Nerds? He made that happen! He is an absolute genius, and we are so damn excited to have him on the site today. I honestly cannot convey how damn happy I am to have gotten him to take some time out of his schedule to talk with us here today. And even though he may not be the biggest fan of the Pauly Shore and Whoopi Goldberg vehicles he created, the impact that these films had on my as but a young boy is undeniable, and I will treasure is work forever and always.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the absolutely brilliant writer, Mr. Steve Zacharias!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of writing? Was it a passion that you had since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I was in a fraternity exactly like Animal House, exactly, we had a lot of the same characters, and similar attitudes. I was one of the biggest fuck ups, so they asked me to write the musical comedy. I wrote it and got so turned on when they performed it that I still love it to this day.

 

What was your very first paid gig as a writer that you can remember getting? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work today?

A comedian on a cruise ship asked me to write a Victor Borja type of routine. He paid me $25, but his notes were too difficult, so I didn’t do them. Five years later, my phone rang, and it was him. His house had burned down and he needed the $25 back. I drove to his motel and paid him the $25 back.

 

 

The 1984 film you worked on, Revenge of the Nerds, is definitely a classic amongst comedic films in history. I am curious to know if you had any idea that this was the case when you were working on it? Was this one of those projects that you simply knew was going to be legendary?

Absolutely.  I write campy. I had written a TV series, Quark, about a garbage ship in outer space. Revenge of the Nerds was a perfect movie for me. I had been building towards it my whole life.

Another project that you wrote on that real hits close to home, as it was one of my favorite films starring one of my favorite people, when I was 9 years old, is the 1994 Pauly Shore fronted film In the Army Now. To this day, I find it to be an underrated classic. The simple fact that such a silly comedy actually got the going to bootcamp, THEN a tech school, and then going to a war zone, has always been absolutely impressive to me. I can’t think of another film that did it this way. That being said, what are your thoughts on In the Army Now, and its place in history?

I wanted to do M*A*S*H on the Gulf War but they forced me to do a Jerry Lewis Movie. And I hated what they did.

 

 

And yet ANOTHER wonderful project that you worked on that meant a lot to me growing up, was the 1996 film Eddie starring Whoopi Goldberg. This was another film I must have watched 100 times growing up. With that, I am curious to know what drew you to this story? Did go into writing it as a basketball fan at all?

I don’t like to admit this but I was a Los Angeles Clipper fan for twelve years. This was my get even and get my money back. It was me in the lead. I had Rick Moranis, who I love, to star in it but Bob Shea bought the script and instantly saw me as being played by Whoppi Goldberg. I have no idea why that occurred to him. Five years later it was made and sure enough it starred Whoppi Goldberg. And I hated the movie.

 

 

When you look back on your career in the world of comedy that spans almost 50 years, what would you say you are the most proud of? Not necessarily one singular project, although it very well could be. But, what do you look back on with the most pride?

1. Revenge of the Nerds

2. Quark

3. Winning Emmy for story of “Edith’s Problem” on All in the Family 

4. Story Editing Partridge Family

5. Scalpels an NBC pilot with Brandon Tartikoff, my rabbi

6. Multiple episodes Happy Days for Garry Marshall Happy Days

7. Johnny Be Good, discovered Uma Thurman

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I’ve written four novels that I don’t know how to publish…have them, read The Brink on Amazon…it got great coverage at CAA…Jerry Weintraub heard the coverage, stole the concept, and even had the gaul to steal the title, Weintraub knew you can legally do that, and made the HBO series, The Brink. CAA protected him. I had no lawyer or agent so they raped me. It’s a great book…

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My friend’s cancer went into remission, and A Shot in the Dark.

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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