UPDATE, 1:55 PM: National Lampoon president Alan Donnes has informed Deadline that A+E Studios and 4th Row Films “have zero rights to make such a series nor do they have the rights to use our name in any such press release. This will most likely result in some form of litigation if the project, as described, moves forward without our full participation. As of now, A&E has not had any conversation with us about this project.”
Donnes adds: “Their proposed show can be about a lot of things, but it sure won’t be about anything owned by, related to,or branded by National Lampoon. Our early days are our early days. We are very protective of the rights and intellectual properties owned by the company.”
An A+E Studios insider assures us that the TV series, which is still in very early development, is inspired by Douglas Tirola’s feature documentary Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story Of The National Lampoon, and won’t specifically portray the origin events of the National Lampoon company nor re-enact its characters. It’s strictly a fictionalized story. In fact, National Lampoon isn’t even being used in the series’ working title which is tentatively called Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead.
Said Donnes, “Just because you make a documentary about Gone With The Wind, doesn’t give you the rights to make Gone With The Wind.”
National Lampoon has been developing a similar project to A+E’s, but with the extensive participation of its former alums. In the case of the David Wain-directed feature, National Lampoon received a licensing fee from Netflix for the use of the company’s logos, magazine covers and character backstories in A Futile & Stupid Gesture.
PREVIOUS, 11 AM: A+E Studios has snapped up the rights to develop a scripted workplace comedy/drama series inspired by Douglas Tirola’s feature documentary Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon.
This marks A+E Studios’ first development project for a scripted series using one of A+E Studios’ Indie Films feature docs as primary source material. Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was produced by History Films, follows the early times of the counterculture magazine which was spawned at an Ivy League school by Douglas Kenney and Henry Beard and morphed into a media company that produced stage shows, radio hours and major studio comedy films such as Animal House and Vacation. Ultimately the magazine ceased publishing, the brand went through various owners, and became a label for late night comedy flicks. The doc aired on History in January and was released by Magnolia Pictures last September.
The fictionalized series which has the working title of Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead will be developed and produced by A+E Studios in association with 4th Row Films. Matty Simmons, who co-founded the National Lampoon magazine in 1970, is serving as consulting producer on the Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead series.
The A+E Studios project is the second recent dramatization of National Lampoon’s origins that’s hitting the tube. Netflix just finished production on David Wain’s all-star biopic about the comedy rag, A Futile & Stupid Gesture (the wrap party is tonight). In that movie Will Forte plays Kenney and Domhnall Gleeson plays Beard. No streaming date has been announced yet for that movie.