Maria Menounos, Keven Undergaro Go 'Quirky' and 'Quotable' With Serial Killer Comedy
The Menounos-produced indie, being released on VOD Wednesday, features a pre-“2 Broke Girls” Beth Behrs, Henry Winkler, Artie Lange and Christopher Lloyd, among others.
They say to write what you know, but writer/director Keven Undergaro did a bit of improvising on his latest -- The Adventures of Serial Buddies.
Executive produced by Extra host and longtime girlfriend Maria Menounos, the dark comedy centers on a pair of dim-witted killers inspired by Undergaro’s former co-worker.
“I worked with a serial buddy,” Undergaro tells The Hollywood Reporter. “At the end of the summer, I thought I’d see him the next evening and when I said ‘Let’s exchange email address,’ or whatever, he was like ‘Well, actually next Friday I’m going to be going away’ … he was trying to get off the subject and when I finally pinned him down, he was like, ‘Well, actually I’m going to prison for life.’
“It gave me the idea that you can be around these people and not know who they are,” he continues, but is quick to clarify that the events depicted have little to do with the crimes of his real-life inspiration.
The project is the second full-length feature collaboration between Menounos and Undergaro, who previously wrote and directed 2007's In the Land of Merry Misfits and the shorts Fwends.com, Longtime Listener and Operation Shock and Awe...some. The duo are currently working on producing the LeBron James doc Losing LeBron.
After a modestly successful theatrical run, Serial Buddies will be released to VOD Wednesday. Menounos hopes the “crazy” and “zany” feature can drum up cult-like appeal.
“I always say if the movie is quotable, that’s a good thing,” Menounos says, noting that her younger family and friends often send her videos of themselves repeating the film’s “quirky” lines. “I thought that was amazing.”
And while Menounos and Undergaro cast unknowns from The Groundlings in the lead roles, Serial Buddies boasts and eclectic roster of supporting actors including Christopher Lloyd, Henry Winkler, Christopher McDonald, Artie Lange, Kathie Lee Gifford and Menounos herself. 2 Broke Girls fans, meanwhile, should find appeal in watching a pre-fame Beth Behrs, whom Undergaro discovered while the actress was paying her way through college by working at a local theater.
“I said, ‘Please tell me you’re an actress,’” Undergaro recalls, “And she said, ‘Oh, actually, I’m in college, but I am studying drama.’ And so when Serial Buddies came, I wrote her a role. I didn’t even read her. And where some people in the business were like, ‘Oh, can’t we get a local actor for that?’ I said ‘No, I have this girl at home -- I’m just telling you, she’s worth it.’”
Behrs earned her keep, not only delivering on-screen but serving as a P.A. off screen, as well. “Beth was doing everything behind the scenes,” says Undergaro. “So gracious, so fun and so involved with the process. That’s something -- you know, if you have the talent, that’s half of it, but if you don’t have the other half it won’t last very long.”
The cast and crew bunked at Menounos’ and Undergaro’s Connecticut property during filming, which “was hilarious and made for a camp-vibe,” says the TV star, who struggled to balance her full-time job with the demands of production.
“This is my first time really honing a project completely on my own from start to finish, and that’s always challenging, but add to it that I still had to work full-time …” she says, “I took all of my vacation time that year, and then on the last week of filming, The Today Show called me and said they needed me, so I had to produce from the set in New York. But we got it done.”