President Trump may have a lot on his plate. But at least he doesn’t have to deal with swarms of flying sharks.
Had he not become president, however, that’s possibly what he would have faced, at least in an absurdist fictional way, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
In his previous life, he had accepted a role in Syfy’s “Sharknado” TV film series. He was to play a fictional president, working with the show’s hero, Fin Shepard (actor Ian Ziering), to defeat the sharks after they strike the nation’s capital.
“The Donald said yes,” David Latt, the 51-year-old co-founder of The Asylum, which produces the series, told the Hollywood Reporter. “He was thrilled to be asked.”
But the show went on in 2015 without Trump in “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” Instead, the role of president was played by Mark Cuban, the owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
Trump and Cuban were second and third choices after Sarah Palin declined the role of POTUS.
The role was potentially a chance to be associated with a high-ratings venture, and Trump cares deeply about ratings. So a contract was drawn up and sent to Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen.
“We got pretty far,” Gerald Webb, a casting director who worked on the first three “Sharknado” films, told the Reporter. “It was serious talks.”
There was only one issue. Trump’s eyes were set on more than a fictional presidency — he wanted the real thing. After the Trump camp grew silent, Syfy reached back out to him.
“Donald’s thinking about making a legitimate run for the presidency, so we’ll get back to you,” Cohen said, according to Latt. “This might not be the best time.”
For the uninitiated, the “Sharknado” franchise is a series of campy made-for-TV movies on the Syfy channel that answer the age-old question, “What would happen if tornadoes of sharks flew around the country and attacked people?”
There are currently four films, with a fifth on the way. They have titles like “Sharknado 2: The Second One” and “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” The trailer for the fourth movie called it “the sequel to the sequel of the sequel to the greatest movie about sharks and tornadoes that’s ever existed.” At one point in the third movie, a great white shark lands in the lap of the Abraham Lincoln statue in his eponymous monument.
These are decidedly not good films, nor are they meant to be. As The Washington Post’s television critic Hank Stuever put it, “Perhaps the real value in ‘Sharknado’ is to become an annual cleansing ritual of our tackiest impulses?”
One reason for Sharknado’s appeal, beside its ridiculousness, might be its reliance on B- and C-list celebrities. People such as Al Roker, Paul Shaffer, Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Jare Fogel, Wayne Newton, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan and even Ann Coulter and Anthony Weiner have been seduced by “Sharknado’s” charms, making cameo appearances in the various films.
After casting Cuban in the role, things turned ugly, Latt told the Hollywood reporter.
“Then we immediately heard from Trump’s lawyer,” recalls Latt. “He basically said, ‘How dare you? Donald wanted to do this. We’re going to sue you! We’re going to shut the entire show down!'” Contacted by THR, Cohen acknowledges a dinner with Ziering to discuss casting Trump but says he has no recollection of the angry correspondence.
Webb, now at his own production company, is philosophical about the dustup. “I took it personally, but I get it now,” he says. “That was my moment of doing business with Donald Trump. And that’s Sharknado.”
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