In: National Lampoon magazines. Out: National Lampoon vacations. A+E Studios is developing a scripted dramedy series based on Douglas Tirola’s 2015 feature documentary, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon. The series — which has yet to be picked up by a network — will offer a fictionalized account of the early years of the esteemed counterculture humor magazine spawned by Ivy League graduates Douglas Kenney and Henry Beard, before it transformed into a large media institution and eventually ceased publication in 1998.
It will primarily draw source material from Tirola’s numerous interviews with the magazine’s original editors, artists, and writers that he conducted for the documentary. Matty Simmons, who co-founded the magazine in 1970 and produced Animal House and a number of Lampoon’s Vacation films, is serving as a consulting producer, while Tirola will also executive produce. Prepare to rage — er, laugh — against the Establishment.
Update: In a statement to Vulture, National Lampoon president Alan Donnes slammed Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, saying A+E did not reach out to the company to discuss the series. “Had they, we would have told them that we have been developing a series that involved some great writers from the ‘glory days’ of the magazine and have been working with several of the estates of deceased former ‘Lampooners,’” he said. “Our show, which is yet untitled, will be true to the history of the company and the many characters who worked at the company at one time or another. We believe that viewers would rather watch an actor portray John Belushi than watch an actor portray some heavyset guy named Bob or Fred or whatever name they give their fictionalized character. We can use our own material, they cannot. Our chief complaint is that while they are now backtracking and saying, ‘Oh, no, it’s all going to be fictionalized,’ they used our brand and its rich history to promote their fictionalized show. If it was always going to be fictionalized, why bring our brand and history into the situations?”
Donnes continued to say that National Lampoon — which owns the magazine’s trademark — recently held meetings about their version of the show, in which they plan to tell “our history in a way that viewers will instantly recognize the characters.” The official announcement will be released soon and, Donnes added, “we have a show almost ready to go. Theirs is still being fictionalized. Perhaps they should consider doing a fictionalized version of the Sears catalog.”