'South Park' Creator Trey Parker Cops to Kooky Universal Spoof

By Andrew Rodgers

Monday , July 16, 2001

05:07 PM PT

HOLLYWOOD (Zap2it.com) - Writer-director Trey Parker ("South Park") admitted to Zap2it.com Monday that he and fellow filmmaker Matt Stone are responsible for a popular spoof film that recently appeared on the Internet.

Parker said that he and Stone were paid by Universal Studios to create "Your Studio and You" in 1996, shortly after the studio had been purchased by Seagrams.

"I don't think I've seen it in four years," said Parker. "I don't even have a copy of it. They wouldn't let me have one because it was one of those things where all these celebrities agreed to do it but it couldn't get exploited - which I understand. But on the other hand, it turned out really cool

The 15-minute black-and-white film, which was created in the style of a 1950's instructional video and pokes fun of the studio, stars such industry luminaries as Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, James Cameron, Michael J. Fox, Sylvester Stallone and Demi Moore.

At that time, Parker said, both he and Stone were complete Hollywood unknowns and were sleeping on the floor of a friend's apartment. In fact, it would be a few months before most of the world would see the duo's immensely popular cartoon "The Spirit of Christmas," which featured a fight to the death between Santa Claus and Jesus and ultimately led to the "South Park" cartoon on Comedy Central and the movie "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut."

One of the few people who was familiar with the pair's work, however, was comedic filmmaker David Zucker ("Airplane," "Naked Gun" and "BASEketball"), who was a fan of "Cannibal! The Musical," a film that Parker and Stone made in college — and now a cult video classic.

Parker said Zucker called him in for a meeting and offered to let him direct the film "High School High." Parker turned him down.

"He couldn't believe that some 25-year-old punk with nothing to do would pass on it," Parker said. "And so then he really liked me I think."

Zucker phoned again a week later and explained that he and his brother Jerry had just been asked to make a short film for Universal to be played at a big coming out party Seagrams was throwing for all of its employees.

Said Parker, "David explained all this to me and said, 'But, we don't have time to do it. So we're going to have you do it.' I was like, 'OK.' And it was so funny because the way he explained it — he said: 'You know, don't worry about it because it's really funny. The script is really funny. You'll have a blast.'"

But as it turns out, when Parker and Stone showed up for the first day of shooting on Universal's back-lot, things weren't as lighthearted as promised.

Parker said that a public relations flack, who was in charge of the production, was immediately put off because Zucker had passed the job onto a complete unknown. After working through the initial hostility, though, Parker and Stone soon learned they had a much bigger problem. The "really funny" script that had been promised didn't exist. And Spielberg, Fox and Cameron were already on their way to film their segments.

"So I get on the phone with David [Zucker]," Parker said. "I was like: 'David, what the f--- are you doing to me? There's no script.'"

To which Zucker replied, "Oh, no. I meant the script I know you're going to write is going to be really funny."

"We're just, like, reeling — Matt and I — we're just like, 'what do we do?'" said Parker. "We suddenly just stopped everything and said, 'let's just do it all like a really stupid '50s industrial movie. Because then at least that part of it will be funny. And so we just started trying to shoot it like those little 'duck and cover' nuclear things from the '50s."

And so they did what any 25-year old aspiring filmmakers would do when thrust into that sort of situation — improvise.

"There isn't one thing in that show that was written more than about an hour before we shot it," said Parker. "That movie is as close to complete improv comedy as it gets."

One of the film's central themes suggests that if the studio doesn't keep in step with the times, then many things that were "once neat and thrilling" will become "old and stupid."

In one scene, for instance, Spielberg can be seen as a back-lot tram-ride operator near the "Jaws" attraction where he urges people to watch out for the attacking mechanical shark. "Ladies and gentlemen, this never happens," he dryly says to his yawning passengers. "Oh the humanity. Isn't that terrifying."

"Matt and I thought this was going to be our only thing in Hollywood," said Parker. "We were scared to death."

At another point, the film suggests that the studio needs to freshen things up a bit. That's when Cameron shows up as a handyman chanting "sweeten... enhance... beautify..." while he plants a sapling on the studio lot.

Parker said he remembered an incident while he and Stone were filming the segment with Cameron. The two were rushing around, he said, and Cameron kept trying to get them to get the shot perfect.

"Cameron was like 'Well, you're kind of shooting into the sun.' And we said, 'It's fine. It'll work. It'll work.' Then he said, 'Well, you should get a nicer background.' And we're like, 'we don't care. This is really guerilla.'"

At this point, Parker says, Cameron looked indignant and said that when he filmed things he liked to take his time. To which, Stone replied: "That's why your movies cost so damn much money."

When Cameron suggested that perhaps Stone would be fired if he was working for him, Parker could only shrug and protest: "Well, he's my best friend."

When the talk in the film turned to recruiting new talent to make the studio more hip, Sylvester Stallone is seen suggesting in his dim-witted "Rocky" voice that: "you know, it's good to be open to new talent because that way... you're more open to new talent."

Director John Singleton, who made his mark with the 1991 urban gang film "Boyz N the Hood," also turns up. He's introduced by the announcer (voiced by Parker) with: "Here's John on the set of his new movie: "Shut Your Honky Ass Mouth, Cracker Boy."

Demi Moore shows up looking like Donna Reed and talks about having more time to cook ham. Michael J. Fox wonders why you shouldn't ever say "no" to a sailor? As the announcer, Parker keeps suggesting that the studio needs more ceramic deer.

"This is one of the funniest things I think I have seen in a long time," said one fan on the www.ifilm.com Web site where the film has been available for a couple weeks. "The amount of star-power and the fact that it borders on being an open attack on Universal; it is mind boggling that something like this can get made."

Jesse Jacobs, the vice president of content at Ifilm.com, said that more than 250,000 people have watched the film so far on the site. "It's kind of the nature of the Internet that things just kind of virally get sent from person to person to person," he said. "Before you know it, within a couple days, everyone you know has seen it."

"You could probably make a feature film out of the experience of making that movie because it was just two dudes from college suddenly directing Steven Spielberg," Parker said. "We were up for six and a half days straight. It was the longest we'd ever gone without sleeping... It was — still to this day — the most difficult thing Matt and I have ever done.

When asked if there were any other guerilla film projects from the duo that might sneak out in the near future, Parker could only laugh.

"Oh god yeah. I mean, this is just one of 80," he said. "In college, Matt and I would shoot something every week just to do it. And then we would lose it. We've lost more films than we have that we've shot.... One that we just dug up is sort of a French film with Matt's penis dancing around by itself. It's pretty sweet. So I think that's going to be the next one to get out there."

Alright. But what ever happened to that mean-spirited PR flack that gave Parker and Stone so much trouble back in 1996?

"I wish I could remember her name," said Parker. "[She] took all the credit... and got promoted."