What’s this like making history? Now that Ike Barinholtz, Nick Kroll and Wanda Sykes have successfully oversaw the sequel four decades in the making, History of the World, Part II — a revival of Mel Brooks’ 1981 sketch comedy film — the trio are set to reveal exclusively to Yahoo Entertainment that they’re reviving another vintage Brooks-ian comedy: 1974’s Flaming Saddles.
“It’s done, sold and shot,” Barinholtz teases about their take on one of the most controversial comedies ever made. “It comes out on Hulu on April 14!”
Check out our interview with the cast and creators of History of the World, Part II on Youtube
OK, OK… so maybe we’re falling a little short. Blazing Saddles II: Return to Rock Ridge not That far into production. In fact, it will almost certainly never be made. For the record, however, Sykes thinks she and she History employees are the right people to pull it off if a streaming service were ever bold enough to bring Flaming Saddles back.
“That would be a lot of fun,” says the actress and comedian, who produced, wrote and starred in the eight episodes. History of the world continued alongside Barinholtz and Kroll – says. “We should put that to Mel!”
“We’ll see him later tonight,” Barinholtz adds. “Let’s give him a few drinks and drink it all up.”
Not for nothing, but the trio has even already assigned their roles in the sequel series. Sykes would take over for Cleavon Little as Rock Ridge enforcer, Sheriff Bart; Kroll is said to be Gene Wilder’s drunken gunfighter, the Waco Kid; and Barinholtz would step into Harvey Korman’s black suit as scheming Attorney General, Hedley – not Hedy! — Lamarr.
Written by Brooks and a team of writers including the late great Richard Pryor, Flaming Saddles remains the 96-year-old director’s biggest box-office hit and also garnered three Oscar nominations. A bawdy and irreverent satire of classic Hollywood westerns and then-contemporary race relations, the film was already controversial when it premiered in theaters in 1974. Brooks has even said over the years that Warner Bros. did not want to release the film. not at all. Nearly four decades later, Flaming Saddles is regularly mentioned – often by the filmmaker himself – as a film that could never be made by a major American studio.
“I don’t know if you could do it today,” agrees History of the World, Part II cast member, Jay Ellis. “Looks like it’s going to be pretty hard to get it done.”
That said, the Insecure star claims he would at least consider playing Sheriff Bart as the History creative team was behind it. “If there was a studio that would give the green light for that, I would do it,” says Ellis with a laugh. “Because we all jump into the fire together; we literally all burn together for the one! This is such a collaborative group, so if there’s an opportunity to make something that would probably be on people’s radar and they kinda crazy, 100%, I would jump in and start doing it.
It is worth noting that a TV version of Flaming Saddles already exists. In 1975 CBS broadcasted the pilot for Black Bart – one of the working titles for the film – starring Louis Gossett Jr. in the role of Little. Although it only aired once on network television, the episode is readily available on YouTube and was also released as a DVD bonus feature. (At one point, CBS was rumored to be producing several Black Bart episodes, but that has since been debunked.)
And by the way, Sykes is willing to share the role of Sheriff Bart with Ellis if she ever gets one Flaming Saddles reboot from the ground. “They’d both make good Barts,” says Barinholtz. “Maybe that’s the thing,” Kroll adds in a real-time “Eureka!” moment. “It’s two sheriffs sharing one [job]. And they run the NYPD!”
While that kind of creative tinkering may sound sacrilegious to fans of the old school Brooks, it’s also necessary when updating some of the more-of-their-time comedies to this day. History of the World, Part II notably makes some changes to its predecessor, most notably in the way the female characters are portrayed. While the 1981 original is filled with hilarious actresses – from Madeline Kahn to Pamela Stephenson – they’re also more likely to be the target of lewd and crude jokes than their male counterparts. The sequel, on the other hand, strives to be an equal opportunity offender.
Our job is to kind of reconcile the things we love about Mel’s films with a modern sensibility. History director Alice Mathias. “That applies not only to our cultural landscape and tastes, but also to what’s funny and what’s already been done. We essentially went back to his films and focused on the features of his filmmaking that are so special – like all physical slapstick comedy. — and go, ‘How can we make it feel fresh and relevant?'”
As one of the many funny women featured in it History of the World, Part II, Zazie Beetz appreciated that the show’s creative team made an effort to spread the cruder jokes between genders this time around. “Obviously it was a different time when that movie came out,” says de Atlanta star, playing Mary Magdalene opposite Ellis’ Jesus of Nazareth. “We’ve grown in our humor. As a woman, it’s nice not only to have highly sexualized humor. But those were the times, I guess!” And now those times are literal History.
History of the World, Part II premieres March 6 on Hulu