Photo by Colin Hutton
Emmy Award-winning director Weide (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) was a huge film buff as a child and even worked in the Fullerton Public Library inspecting, cleaning, and checking out 16mm films. One of his latest projects is “Mr. Sloane,” an acclaimed British comedy set in 1969 and starring Nick Frost (“Shaun of the Dead”). Orange Coast’s Hot Pop columnist Valerie Takahama recently caught up with the writer and director to talk with him about “Mr. Sloane,” which airs on KCET-channel 28 at 10 p.m. on May 7.
Takahama: A couple of the reviews in the British papers mentioned being surprised that the series is so quintessentially British and yet it’s the product of an American writer-director. What are your ties to the United Kingdom? British parents? Interest in ’60s pop music?
Weide: My dirty little secret is that I’d never even been to England until middle age. I hadn’t even been to Europe until, I think, 2003, and didn’t get to England until I started to have meetings for a film that I directed there in 2008. Well, it came out in 2008, I started shooting it in 2007. It was called “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People,” and it starred Simon Pegg, whose best friend is Nick Frost. So I became friendly not only with Simon but with all of his friends.
When I was in England, I spent a solid year there. And if you keep your eyes and ears open, you can soak up a fair amount of culture in that time. Fortunately, we speak pretty much the same language. That helped. I was spending a lot of time with Brits, and I was living there and soaking up the culture. But that was it. Everybody thinks I’m like a big Anglophile.
Takahama: They also saw the show as an homage to ’60s British TV series. I’m wondering if that’s a genre you’re familiar with and do you write “Mr Sloane” with that in mind?
Weide: No, no. In fact, there’s a show that people mention a few times by comparison called “Reggie Perrin”…(but) I’d never heard of it. I grew up loving British humor. I was into Monty Python at a young age before the shows were even shown in the States because I had an older friend who had the records, and I knew all the bits off the records. So when the TV series came to the States, I already knew all the bits. Interestingly, Eric Idle is now a friend of mine. One of the Pythons. He lives not far from me. Being a film buff and soaking up some of the old Ealing Studios films with Alec Guinness and that era of comedy.
The story I told (in “Mr. Sloane”) was a fairly universal story. It’s about love and loss and friendship and betrayal and starting over. Instead of putting something in a nightclub, you put it in a pub. We’re all basically having the same experience going through life.
“Mr. Sloane” airs May 7, 14, and 21 on KCET. Link TV (DirectTV channel 375 and Dish Network channel 9410) hosts a marathon of all seven episodes May 17, with encore presentations May 19 through 21.