Kickstarter genius Lawrence Shepherd and an unnamed woman. Photo courtesy of Lawrence Shepherd
Did you recently waste money on an ironic Kickstarter campaign to make potato salad? Well, first, Paypal used the money you apparently can't wait to get rid of. Secondly, fuck irony. There are people out there with actual, worthwhile goals that need help funding.
For instance, a Van Nuys–based producer's bold project to make a Breaking Bad sequel series starring Val Kilmer and Slash as the cops who recovered Walter White's body. No, he doesn't have the rights to Breaking Bad, nor has he received a commitment from Kilmer or Slash. But when Lawrence Shepherd saw the series finale, in which two cops drag Walter White's body away, he knew that he was the guy to tell those cops' story. All the other pieces will fall into place.
It's a pipe dream, sure. (Not least because only $143 of the $500,000 goal has been raised.) But, still! What's the value of life without dreams? Who gives a shit about the second season of True Detective when there's the (remote) possibility of Val Kilmer and Slash tracking down a not-dead Walter White?
We called up first-time producer Lawrence Shepherd to learn more about his Breaking Bad spinoff, which he's calling Anastasia.
VICE: The show has an intriguing premise, to say the least. Where'd the idea come from?
Lawrence Shepherd: For the last six years or so, I was getting very critical of the writing on shows. Then I saw one of the last episodes of Breaking Bad—remember when Jesse came into Walter White's house with the gasoline can and he was going to burn it down?
There was a sequence when Jesse looks down the hallway, and the two doors were closed. I thought, Junior's in there. Junior's in there with the baby, he's going to come out, wrestle with Jesse, and something's going to happen. Junior's the only one who hasn't broke bad in the whole show. It didn't happen, and I was a little disappointed.
I like the way Breaking Bad ended, but I think they could have done better. That's when I just started writing.
Seems like you'd have to worry about copyright issues…
Of course. You have to watch the uniqueness. Remember the last episode, the machine gun rotating back and forth in the Cadillac? Very unique. I can't use it. The dead guy in the recliner chair going up and down? Very unique, couldn't use it.
But other than that, nothing there is copyright or trademark available. A guy dead on the floor? My God, that's been done a bazillion times. Police responding to an issue? It's been done a bazillion times.
We're not going to be confrontative with Sony and Vince Gilligan if they say no. We are filming the pilot independent of Breaking Bad, so if they do say no, we're ready to go with our own show.
It would be the same show? Or different?
Anastasia's gonna be stand-alone. If they say yes, the first season is going to be very Breaking Bad–dependent. But the second season and forward—I'm trying to go 12 seasons and break Frasier's record—we may only have a two-and-a-half minute teaser that will go along with the Walter White thread.
If we have to do it independent from Breaking Bad, then instead of dragging out their Walter White, we'll drag out our Walter White.
How realistic is it that you're going to get Val Kilmer?
From what people tell me about Val Kilmer, you don't have to pay him a million dollars. If there's some money there, he'll typically do it. Slash is who I'm more worried about. He plays guitar—that's his love, and he makes a good living off of it. And I've heard from a few people he's busy with his new album release, so Slash probably won't be in every episode, but we could do it either way.
Slash is going to be undercover—that's why he dresses the way he does and his hair is the way it is, right? He's the undercover part of the cop partnership.
I asked Laura San Giacomo to star, but I just got a very nice letter back from her manager that she's already doing a pilot. We have to look for somebody else.
Photo courtesy of Lawrence Shepherd
Do you have backups for Val Kilmer and Slash, then?
Nathan Lane was my first choice. I thought he'd be perfect in Kilmer's role. But because we're going to be so tight on money—I'd have to pay for transportation and lodging for Lane, because he lives in New York City—we did the flip to Val Kilmer. I think Kilmer and Lane have equal acting ability.
As far as Slash, I'm hearing that he will definitely be in the pilot. That's what I'm hearing. I don't have a letter of intent yet, and we have to work around his tour. He tours a lot.
When you say you hear from Slash, does that mean you've talked to Slash?
Not hearing from Slash, no. Him and Myles Kennedy just put out a new album, and he didn't have time for anything. So I'm hearing from people that know Slash.
So you have contacted them or sent letters to their management?
Oh, absolutely. Nobody's come back and said no, except for Laura San Giacomo, and only because she was too busy. Steven Tyler's already been sent the video and everything—he'd be in the second episode.
I also talked to John Westphal; he's the main head guy at Sony. He said they'd have to be involved with it if they went forward, and we said of course. That's where we left it.
Can you go through the side plot with the 12-step program?
Val Kilmer's role will be a recovering alcoholic. He will go to 12-step meetings throughout the season. He does the on-scene sharing, if you want to call it that, in the first episode. Steven Tyler, if he signs on, will be sharing in the second episode's meeting.
We're going to invite anybody in the entertainment industry that's been through substance abuse or addiction to do that. And it won't be scripted. It will be whatever they want. If they want to do it funny, if they want to do it real, if they want to do it sad, that's fine. We're only going to do it two or three times per season, because it might get old and not be as magical.
I went down to Big Lots and bought about 20 red-and-white checkered tablecloths that we're going to use for the meetings. Therefore, let's say it's Robert Downey Jr.'s turn for a 12-step meeting scene, but he's in Brazil filming some Iron Man thing—no problem. I can put the tablecloth in an envelope, mail it down to him, and he can film it right there. I think that's going got work real well.
You're nearly half-a-million dollars away from reaching your Kickstarter goal. What's the plan if you don't get?
My timeline got blown with finding a director for the Kickstarter video. My initial plan was to find the director before the Kickstarter went off. I find one didn't until two weeks after the Kickstarter started, so we didn't get the video done until three days ago. That timeline got completely blown.
We're going to restart on Kickstarter on the first of the month if we don't get funded. By then we'll already have the director and video, so we should do much, much better.