Adam Sandler, Snoop, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Paris Hilton, Ellen DeGeneres, Pam Anderson, Vince Vaughn, Chris Rock and Andy Dick. The guest list at the Vanity Fair Oscar party? Not exactly.
Try adding Fred Durst, Heidi Fleiss, Jerry Springer, Tommy Chong, Mark McGrath, Corey Feldman, Screech, Rico Suave, Tommy Lee and Carrot Top.
Oh, right, must be "Pauly Shore Is Dead." Pauly who? Exactly.
"I was lying in my bathtub one night, the phone wasn't ringing and I wasn't getting any offers and I was thinking, 'What do I have to do, kill myself to get some press?' " said Shore, the ex-MTV personality formerly known as the Weasel.
"Pauly Shore Is Dead" is his 82-minute comedic meditation on the price of fame, packed with so many celebrity cameos it feels like a low-budget Robert Altman spoof. Considering he financed, co-wrote, stars in and directed it, Shore considers it his "Citizen Kane," complete with a visit from his comedic Rosebud, the ghost of his idol and late stand-up ranter Sam Kinison.
After his low-rated 1997 FOX sitcom "Pauly" was canceled, Shore said he stepped back and took some time off from being the "Weiz," the "Hey buuuuuddy!"-catchphrase-spouting adolescent irritant that had rocketed him to fame in the early '90s. How bad were things? Even his brother wasn't interested in co-writing the film Shore was convinced would get him back on top. So he put up his own money, avoided the studios that turned him down and began writing a script with pal Kirk Fox about an attempt to revive his flagging career by faking his death.
"It wasn't Pauly going to the moon, so people didn't get it," said Shore of the reaction to the script, which he saw as "darker and different" than his previous star vehicles such as "Bio-Dome" and "Son-In-Law."
After making the rounds at Sundance and a handful of other film festivals, the movie opened briefly in New York in December (presumably to make the cut for Oscar consideration) and was released on DVD on January 25.
But the journey to the screen (big or little) took much longer than Shore anticipated.
In the film, as his career dries up following the cancellation of the dismal "Pauly," Shore loses his house to prop comedian Carrot Top, his fiancee to another comic and hatches the idea to fake his death. "I never got that depressed. I still had my house and money and cars, but most guys get depressed when they're changing from a boy to a man," said Shore of his blue period. "My hormones were changing and in combination with my career ... that was really heavy for me. I lost my smile and my bounce."
Sure, he was still selling out shows and the drunken frat boys still loved those Weiz routines, but maybe the critics were right, he thought, maybe he should just chuck it all and go to India for a year. "I mean, one of the jokes in my show now is about how pathetic it would be for me to be 36 with my old look," he said. "I'd be the David Lee Roth of comedy with my little spandex ass pants."
Shore called in favors from fellow comedians (Seinfeld, DeGeneres, Dick, Rock), most of whom had cut their teeth at his mother Mitzi's world-famous Los Angeles comedy club, the Comedy Store. In fact, the dozens of cameos were all filmed over the course of a few years in Los Angeles, but the biggest get of all required leaving the comforts of home.
"I guess I've touched a lot of people," Shore said by way of explaining how he got Oscar-winner Sean Penn — whose sense of humor was sorely lacking during the Oscars, when he snapped at host Chris Rock — to film a cameo at the actor's favorite San Francisco dive bar. "People got the joke when I pitched it to them over the phone. The premise and the fact that I was doing it myself ... he's into that sh--."
The premise of the low-budget film, which Shore estimates cost him under $1 million, wasn't enough to entice every star, though.
While the actress was facing shoplifting charges, Winona Ryder's people declined a scene with her entering jail as Shore departs. And recovering addict Corey Feldman was dead set against playing a dope dealer, until Shore dragged him up to the house and convinced him to do it. And, shockingly, off-the-radar insult comedian Andrew "Dice" Clay passed on a chance to mock Shore's downfall as the Weiz parked cars at the Comedy Store.
"I want people who are into 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' to watch it and like it, because they'll get it if they see the movie once," Shore said. "But my regular fans will probably have to see it twice before they get it."
The movie has gotten some positive notice, though Shore said the directing and acting offers aren't exactly pouring in. He turned down the chance to be on VH1's "The Surreal Life" when things were bleak, but Shore hasn't entirely avoided the reality bug. Production is under way on a 10-episode series for TBS called "Minding the Store," in which he'll work alongside his mother as they run the family business together.
"And just so you know," he added, "I'm lying in the sun right now in the house that Carrot Top did not move into."
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