Exclusive: Larry Charles on Kanye and The Crue

A couple nights ago, ComingSoon.net had a chance to sit down with writer/director Larry Charles (“Borat,” “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) to talk about his new movie Religulous, for which he spent a couple of years roaming the globe with comedian and political commentator Bill Maher. We’ll have that full interview tomorrow, but in the meantime, we talked with Charles about a couple of the projects he was associated with revolving around two popular (and often misunderstood) musical artists, ’80s hair metal band Motley Crüe and Grammy-winning rapper Kanye West.

Charles was planning on directing a movie based on “The Dirt,” Neil Strauss’ biographical novel about the Crüe, but that seems to be floundering in studio limbo currently. “The Motley Crue thing I was really into and I did a lot of work on it,” Charles told us. “I wrote a pass on the script and everything, but it was at MTV Films which then got swallowed by Paramount Vantage which then got swallowed by Paramount. All those people were gone that developed it and it got put to the side, so I don’t know what’s going to happen to it. Also my thing about that which was that I felt it had to be an NC-17 movie, and I thought, ‘Well that would be ballsy to do. When was the last time they had a mainstream NC-17 movie?’ That’d be a good idea.”

“I don’t know if you’ve read the book, but it’s really a great read,” he continued. “Do you know Neil Strauss at all? He used to work for The New York Times as their pop critic, he wrote the book and he’s a really good writer. It’s so much better than they deserve, the book, because Motley Crüe is a crappy band but he wrote a really epic book about them. It’s really fascinating. What’s good about it is how hardcore it is. They’ve killed people, they’ve hurt people, they’ve crippled people, they’ve done all kinds of crazy things. You’d have to show that for real and I think there was a little bit of reticence about doing that ultimately. But for me, I would do it if it could be done the proper way. If it’s going to be sanitized then they don’t need me to do it. They could find somebody else to do that.”

He also told us that he already shot a pilot for the currently untitled Kanye West project that the rapper was doing for Larry Charles’ regular home HBO, and he told us a little more about what that is, since there’ve been many rumors about it being a sitcom or reality TV. In fact, it’s neither, as Charles informed us. “What Kanye West said to me the first time, he said, ‘I’m the black Larry David.’ That’s the first thing he said to me. So it’s like a Kanye and ‘Curb’ show, it’s kind of improvised about the situations and stuff. It was really good, but again I think it was too hardcore for HBO. Also, HBO’s management shifted, but HBO doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to black shows and I felt like that may have had something to do with it also. I don’t see a lot of shows about that experience at all. This was very entertaining and we showed it to a lot of people. People gave it a very good response and it seems to be on the shelf right now. The management has shifted at HBO so we’re waiting to see. Sue Naegle has taken over and I want to show it to her and see how she responds to it.”

When we mentioned how funny Kanye West was when he appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” Charles agreed. “Yeah, he’s so much funnier than people realize. Even the whole being full of himself stuff is a joke to him and he likes to play that of being like, you know, Kanye. And he’s kind of a brilliant guy actually.”

Charles also told us that a project he’s been developing with Owen Wilson and rock/rap producer Rick Rubin is coming closer to fruition.

Check back tomorrow night for our full interview with Larry Charles before the release of his new look at faith and religion in the comedy doc Religulous on Wednesday, October 1, in New York and elsewhere on Friday, October 3.


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