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THE POPCORN REEL FILM FOCUS FEATURE STORY: KEVIN SMITH's "ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO"


Cast members of Kevin Smith's new film "Zack And Miri Make A Porno", which opens in the U.S. and Canada on Friday.  The cast members include Jason Mewes (second from left), and from center to right, Craig Robinson (in white shirt), Katie Morgan and Traci Lords.  (Photo: Screenshot by Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com via The Weinstein Company)

Coming Very Soon: A Kevin Smith Movie, Where Porno Isn't Porn

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel
October 29, 2008                                  
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LOS ANGELES, California --

It's sexy.  It's funny.  It's over the top.  It's incorrect to the nth degree.

It's "Zack And Miri Makes A Porno", the new film from New Jersey filmmaker Kevin Smith.

"It's about them (Zack and Miri) emotionally connecting in a way they never had," said Mr. Smith, whose racy R-rated film opens on Friday in the U.S. and Canada.

Professionally, the emotional connection for Mr. Smith, a married man with two daughters, has been Rosario Dawson, who has become a muse of sorts for the director, appearing in several of Mr. Smith's films, including the "Clerks" movies. 

Mr. Smith wrote "Zack And Miri" specifically for Seth Rogen and Miss Dawson, but one variable got in the way: Steven Spielberg's film project "Eagle Eye", which Miss Dawson had already said yes to.  Miss Dawson's work on the film in January through March of this year, a film which also starred Shia LeBoeuf and Michelle Monaghan, meant that Mr. Smith wouldn't have his favorite lady on the scene for "Zack And Miri".

The director then turned to Mr. Rogen, who suggested Elizabeth Banks, whom he soon met.

"We talked on the deck for an hour." 

And that's all it took for the director, who promptly offered Elizabeth Banks the part.  As Stevie Wonder once sang, Ms. Banks was signed, sealed and delivered. 

"Elizabeth gives you more than you've asked for," Mr. Smith said recently here in the cozy confines of the swanky Four Seasons Hotel.  "I think she's insanely gifted."  He went on to praise Ms. Banks, who with "Zack And Miri" has three films in American movie theaters over a three week stretch (sandwiched in between "W." and "Role Models"), as "the best actress I've ever worked with."

Kevin Smith has never been shy about chronicling such topics as religion, the working class and unemployed, same-sex relationships, but the New Jersey filmmaker was very hesitant to have Mr. Rogen and Ms. Banks doing scenes for "Zack And Miri" without their clothes on, so both keep their clothes on, allowing audiences to use the powers of their imagination.  The two play the respective title roles as near 30-somethings and live-in best friends who have known each other since high school and remain platonic friends.  Facing hard times and possible eviction, they make an indecent proposal to earn money: make a porn film.

Mr. Rogen suggested real porn actresses to populate Mr. Smith's film.  Katie Morgan, who had no hesitations about being naked, signed on early as one of the porn stars.  Miss Morgan will be familiar to some viewers of HBO, where she has hosted, in the nude, documentaries on the history of pornography.  While Mr. Smith knew of Miss Morgan's physical attributes and talents, he wasn't so sure that Miss Morgan could act for real.  He soon found his answer.

"Wow, this chick can actually act!", said Mr. Smith, dressed in a trademark black zipper sweat top.  "She comes across as Judy Holliday with massive boobs."

For the record, Miss Morgan, plays the role of Stacey in "Zack And Miri".


At the L.A. premiere earlier this month: The director Kevin Smith with Traci Lords, who has a small role in his new film "Zack And Miri Makes A Porno", which opens on Friday in the U.S. and Canada.  (Photo: WireImage)

For the role of Bubbles, Mr. Smith said that he said he wanted to cast a woman "who we'd want to fuck as teens." 

"Traci Lords will be the ultimate Bubbles," said Mr. Smith, who joked that he had "on deck" the actress Kelly Le Brock from her "Weird Science" days if Ms. Lords, a former porn star more than 20 years removed from the trade, hadn't been available or had declined the role.  Ms. Lords, who has been in a much better place for a long time now, read the script and after being assured that the title wasn't what the film was really about, decided that she was in.

Kevin Smith was asked about being in -- into porn -- specifically his first encounter with watching pornography.  "I was 12 years old.  I was at a family friend's house, staying to baby sit a dog.  I came across a TDK videotape with a label underneath it that was partially ripped." 

The rest, as they say, was history.

"Nobody wants to see a man of my size hovering over them," said the director, alluding to his own largess in a self-deprecating way, stubbornly defusing any talk that one would be seeing Kevin Smith in a Ron Jeremy-type role in a porn film anytime soon.

Despite this "disappointment", people across North America can now see the director on his just-released 2-disc DVD called "A Threevening With Kevin Smith", dubbed at 222 minutes (almost four hours), even though the back of the DVD says that "over 5 hours of uncensored material" is on it.  No matter what the running time is, one thing that perturbed Mr. Smith is some American cities' reactions to advertisements for the film, including Philadelphia's reaction.

"Philly wouldn't put up any billboards for the film because some people were saying that the ad would be teaching young kids in the city about pornography and sex," the director said.

Suppressing his irritation to a degree, Mr. Smith said that the almost censorship-like behavior around ads for the film -- ads that have nothing but stick figures on them -- have been "a little befuddling".

"Look, I can drive down Sunset Boulevard not far from here and see all these ads with half naked models . . . sex is used to sell shit like jeans," said Mr. Smith, who added that he had some resistance from the Motion Picture Association of America, whom after very little convincing from the director, rated the film R instead of NC-17.

"Everything you see in the film is as I intended it.  They'll be no uncut DVD bullshit edition, that's for sure."

"Zack And Miri Make A Porno" opens on Friday in the U.S. and Canada.  The film is released by The Weinstein Company.  The film, written and directed by Kevin Smith, stars Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Katie Morgan, Traci Lords, Brandon Routh and Justin Long.

Copyright The Popcorn Reel.  PopcornReel.com.  2008.  All Rights Reserved.

   
This ad has been banned from billboards in numerous American cities, including in Philadelphia, according to the film's director Kevin Smith, who was mildly irritated at the censorship efforts in some towns toward his new film.  (Poster: The Weinstein Company)


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