Paul Feig hopes viewers will watch all eight episodes from 'Other Space' season one and circulate the www.ShareOtherSpace.com link on social media with a #ShareOtherSpace hashtag.
Hollywood can be a bit of a dick to creative folks. I moved here on a green card three years ago after the U.S. State Department decided my contributions to Canadian comedy made me a "person of extraordinary ability." (Do I have laser vision? Maybe!) Yet despite this distinction -- and a bunch of national awards (whatevs, no biggie) -- I've been stonewalled from getting my TV pitches off the ground, given I can't even find an L.A. agent interested in reading 'em. That's the industry for ya.
What makes me feel marginally less slighted is the fact Hollywood can be an equal opportunity dick. Case in point, the ongoing frustrations afforded to writer/director/producer Paul Feig (Ghostbusters, Spy, The Heat, Freaks And Geeks). Sure, he's a big-time A-list moviemaker n' all, yet you wouldn't know it based on the way his labor of love, the brilliant sci-fi comedy Other Space, has been treated.
The premise: In the year 2105, the bickering, inexperienced young exploration crew of the UMP Cruiser find themselves lost in space, in an alternate universe crammed with mysterious aliens and treacherous terrain. And after pitching the show to NBC in the mid aughts, Feig found his unproduced idea stuck in development limbo for years. At first, execs were totes on board, but asked it be changed from single-camera to multi-cam. (Rarely a good idea.) Then they felt the multi-cam version didn't pair particularly well with anything on their programming slate. From there, the Other Space script collected dust for a hella long time. "You have ideas you develop all the time, and you go, 'Okay, I've grown past that,'" Feig explains to me during a recent sit-down. "This is the one that always kept sticking with me."
In 2015, a decade after its initial pitch, Other Space finally landed a home at Yahoo! Screen, a new streaming service looking to infiltrate the Netflix/Hulu/Amazon boys club. "Yahoo was great," Feig says. "We had very little oversight from them, and they gave us a real budget." Eight episodes were produced and released that year. But despite promises of hearty promotion (billboards, bus ads, print media, etc), Other Space ended up being advertised solely on, well, Yahoo. To boot, some nefarious geoblocking ensured nobody outside the U.S. could view it. Shame, since the comedy won critical raves from Rolling Stone and CinemaBlend, both of which named it one of the year's best shows. Here's a fan-edited promo (Yahoo didn't make one of its own, ya see):
Long story short: Pretty much nobody saw Other Space, and Yahoo! Screen folded a few months later. The show wasn't cancelled, mind you; but when you're practically anonymous and have no broadcaster, is there much of a difference? Which brings us to present day, where Feig once again holds the rights to the Other Space property. "Yahoo was very nice about letting us have those back," he notes. And despite a decade's worth of frustrating obstacles, he's steadfast in getting season two of his passion project off the ground. Problem is, there are currently no takers, because as noted, Hollywood can be a bit of a dick.
So what now? Well, to quote George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, "The ol' tactician's already got a plan." Feig has taken the unconventional step of placing the entire first season of Other Space online at www.ShareOtherSpace.com, where it can be viewed for free not just in the U.S., but internationally. His hope is folks will not only tune in, but share the link on social media along with a #ShareOtherSpace hashtag. This in turn will help build the show an actual, bona fide fanbase, making it more appealing to potential broadcasters.
It's a bit of a gamble, but Feig has some positives on his side. "Our cast is so great," he says of the UMP Cruiser crew, which includes Karan Soni (Deadpool, Office Christmas Party) and Milana Vayntrub (Ghostbusters, This Is Us). "They're all going on to big things." And lest we overlook the ringers: Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu, who play memorable -- and hilarious -- variations of their legendary Mystery Science Theater 3000 characters.
Yet another plus is Feig's unflinching belief Other Space can win the hearts of science fiction buffs, specifically those who've geeked out on everything from Star Trek to Star Wars to Firefly to Red Dwarf. "I'm a sci-fi fan," he explains, "so I wanted to do a sci-fi comedy that didn't make fun of sci-fi. I didn't want it to be kitschy."
Lastly, the cast, as well as masterful season one showrunner Owen Ellickson (Superstore, The Office), are more than eager to strap on their spacesuits for another kick at the can, should the opportunity present itself. "It was such a thrilling experience," Ellickson says. "It's been hard to grapple with the idea that it died in such an incremental way."
"We didn't exist, is the long and the short of it," Feig adds. "And I'd love to change that. If the show had this enormous push and people went 'Meh,' then I'd say, 'All right, we tried' and move on. But in this case, we never got to scratch the surface of what we wanted to do with it."
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