Will Harkin Banks and the gang return in 2016?
March 7th, 2015. It’s a ballsack-hot winter day in L.A. and only slightly cooler inside the paper-strewn office of producer Mike Marvin’s Santa Monica townhouse, where we sit performing a table reading of the working script of the remake to Hotdog! The Movie alongside his ex-wife Michele. The former couple wraps up, bent over in laughter browsing her scantily clad photos from the archives I’ve been charged with digitally transferring that could make 1982 Playmate Shannon Tweed blush. On the couch to my left, the marshmallow-scented puffs of their daughter Ariel’s vaporizer rolls in clouds across the room like a bad Alice fallen in with the caterpillars of Wonderland as she listens to our little performance from an indifferent cross-legged posture on the couch.
When the family gets together with Daddy to act out lines from the project that could make or break the last act of his storied career in Tinsel Town (the man has just turned 70), you know development has begun in earnest. That’s exactly the state of affairs with Mike Marvin’s quest to remake his 1984 cult classic, Hotdog! The Movie, possibly the greatest cult classic Hollywood film ever made that had anything to do with skiing. Michele slaps my wrist, leading the read with a sultry voiceover.
“You be Le Morphion, kid. I’ll do camera direction, scene beats, and read for Chalker. Mikey can be Harkin.”
Credits roll in with Hot Dog! The Movie, as we fade in:
Melodrama and cinema quality dictation echo through the room as Michele delivers us through the opening beat, hard verbs, tortured spires of living granite, the flash of a Cessna, radio garble. Into the valley floor we go, cutting now to Ext. Valley Floor, onto Jaques Le Morphion, I’m preparing my best froggy dialect, and ...
“I am readeee for zuh-shot! Monsieur Chalker?! Come in on zee radio, sil vous plait–if you please!”
Michele’s back with the camera, the single engine plane buffeting now as we’re on the precipice of crashing, and...
“Closer, mon dieux! I must have realism! Closer!” I belt.
Michele’s belting more story beats with lines about Go Pros and a fucknut named Buzz Chalker, melding into her own one liner as ‘Chalker’.
“We’re caught in a fuckin’ rotor, kid!! This Froggy’s gonna get us killed!”
Detailing her ex-man’s character that is a Go-Pro'ed out Harkin Banks, we’re ready to jump into a wintry airspace, as Marvin utters his own line, and...
“The heck’s a rotor, Chalker?!”
The reading from page one on flows on tit for tat as we hotdog our way through the first act and into the second, pressing through to his most recent revisions up to the 70 page mark. The table reading on this afternoon is a warm family moment for Mike Marvin, whose quiet interior life while gearing up for the producing war ahead is a fascinating look at a Hollywood animal’s machinations and the many invisible processes that take a concept from a script to the screen.
Business is run from his townhouse, where we write, hang out with the family, hustle phone calls, massage line changes, and angle for interviews for his biopic I’m headlining the development of. Amazing what kind of studio work happens between one’s ears and in the simple setting of a home office these days.
“Ok sweetie, we’re out. That was hot stuff!” comments Michele. “Oh, and I like the kid. You should let him run with what he wants. ”
We wrap up as the whiff of Ariel’s marshmallow vape curls over one final time. And as Marvin’s girls head off into the beat of Santa Monica, I’m left with the breathless feeling of having just shredded through the script that just may become Hollywood’s next great sex comedy.
Hot Dog! The Movie–The Second Coming
Will Mike Marvin's campaign to remake Hot Dog! The Movie succeed in 2016? Original movie poster from the 1984 original.
The current direction of the new Hotdog! is an evolution of the first story line following the central journey of Harkin Banks bumping into a party-happy Sunny. In the script, Harkin readies to make what Marvin envisions as the most spectacular ski performance in all of cinematic history, with his Jacques Le Morphion character introduced as the seedy French ski filmmaker making a movie about Harkin’s freeskiing adventures.
We’re thrown into the raucous world of modern competitive freeskiing, only this time in the place of the backdrop of freestyle moguls, aerials, and ski ballet, our intrepid hero Harkin Banks is headed out to Squaw Valley to compete in the “Lord Of The Boards” contest, a four-pronged event combining slopestyle, skier cross, half pipe, and big mountain skiing in order to establish the best all-around skier in the world.
The rest of the 'ski-ploitation' elements are all there, with plenty of ass grabbing, hot tub antics, slug-sized joints, and antagonistic Russian competitors stepping up in place of the Austrian ones from the original. Mike Marvin’s remake of Hotdog! The Movie is gearing up as any great sex comedy should, making adjustments in scope and language to start roping in actors for an epicurean cinematic experience sure to make the producers of The Hangover blush. In short, there will even be more sauce to taste this time around.
Mike Marvin posing with actress Tracey Smith, who played Sunny in the original Hotdog!. Photo courtesy of Mike Marvin.
The remake to Hotdog! has been a longtime passion project, a heritage piece in homage to his sex comedy talent and former life as an outspoken ski film pioneer during the boom times of freestyle skiing that raged from 1971 until its dramatic implosion at the end of the 1977 competition season. And while others have asked why Marvin would want to do a remake of the ultimate ski spoof–to which my go-to response harps on the deep heritage of the original film–Marvin’s answer is more simple.
“To make money, dude. It has to be commercial to pull something like this off... but there’s also a lot of heritage.”
Heritage indeed. But that’s another story, one that starts at the very dawn of ski porn. Drop in on my Hotdog! The Legacy column for a taste of that pie.
Rick Sylvester drops like a stone towards the valley floor of Yosemite Valley during the world’s first ever ski cliff BASE jump, January 31st, 1972, filmed for Mike Marvin’s seminal 1972 ski film Earth Rider. This photo would go on to make the front page of the LA Times before snowballing across newspapers the world over. Photo courtesy of the Henry Diltz Gallery.
The story in development for the Hotdog! remake is somewhat liken to the cult classic tribute form George Miller has recently enhanced by putting together Mad Max: Fury Road, where we will be seeing Max united with the Furiosa heroine. “Idaho wonder boy ski film star Harkin Banks meets party girl Sunny on his quest to become world champion freeskier, vibing with agro Russian snot bag rival Ivan Yakinoff in a balls-deep competition to be the king of the hill” sums up the log line for preparations for this remake.
Consider also how director John Milius’s 1978 surf classic Big Wednesday ignited the “surfploitation” genre, going all the way to complete flops like Blue Crush and the bare bottom of Matthew McConaughey's career, Surfer, Dude. In the same fashion, Hotdog! had a large influence on the wide succession of “skiploitation” films to trickle in across Hollywood’s radar in the ensuing decades, an ever more curious consideration taking into account Mike Marvin’s original continues to be the only widely commercially successful Hollywood ski film in history, having grossed some $38 million worldwide. If any project has the raw kinetic ability to kickstart the scope of skiing back into Tinsel Town’s mainstream, it stands to reason the Hotdog! remake harbors that power.
Marvin’s crucible will be to attach the right people to the project, from the director to the cast to the writers that make the final adjustments updating the concept, and to then hotdog his way through the filming with out-of-this-world cinematography, such as with the new iteration of the infamous Chinese downhill. While he may direct himself, no final decision has been made.
Finance has also been achieved, with a cool $12,000,000 in the pipeline. But pressing the go button to spend it is not as simple as ski fans might like it to be, a side to this emerging story I will be addressing in following journal entries.
“What the fuck do we do if there’s no snow?” asks Marvin as we continue through the afternoon hashing out the development plan in his home studio HQ. My answer to him remains steadfast that all prayers are best answered by putting your sermon on the page.
'What the fuck do we do if there’s no snow?' asks Marvin As we continue through the afternoon hashing out the development plan in his home studio HQ. My answer to him remains steadfast that all prayers are best answered by putting your sermon on the page.
As such, an entirely new story direction may evolve over the coming year of development, especially considering the fretful factor of the western United States’ continued lack of snowfall. The consistent diminished accumulation could threaten continuity with shoot locations, potentially leaving it up to the team to write some fantastic twist into the plot connected to the climate change starting to wrack the ski industry.
“Squallywood” (Squaw Valley) may be the heart of the script setting for now, but other directions like writing in a Lord Of The Boards tour moving through Jackson Hole, Alaska, Chamonix, or Japan that kicks off out of the destination extreme skiing scene that was host to the original Hotdog! could just as well make the final cut in some fashion depending on the development teams continued talks with their executives, and how it all shakes out on the page with adjusting to mother nature.
But remember, it’s a sex comedy, not a ski porn. While there’s sure to be some of the most mind boggling ski cinematography we’ve seen come out of Hollywood in years, the story is most closely centered around not just what happens below Harkins’ legs, but also what happens between them–and everything else off the slopes.