(This is a preview of the column that will appear in the Sunday Pocono Record. Make sure you sign the petition to bring Wet Hot American Summer 2 back to the Poconos! It’s OK, I fixed the link this time. Oh, and don’t forget the live chat at 11 a.m. Friday Feb. 24.)
When the cult movie “Wet Hot American Summer” filmed in the Poconos more than a decade ago, no one knew who Bradley Cooper was.
Not many people knew the name Paul Rudd.
Amy Poehler hadn’t even started on “Saturday Night Live” yet.
But if the stars align just right and everything goes according to a secretive plan, the star-packed cast of the original 2001 comedy farce could reunite sometime in the future to film a sequel.
And it could happen in the Poconos — if it happens at all.
“I can neither confirm nor deny the rumors (of a sequel),” said Mitch Reiter, director of Camp Towanda outside Honesdale where the original movie was filmed in the spring of 2000. “But (the film’s director) David Wain and I have had a very nice relationship since the movie came out and have kept in contact. Yes, we’ve been talking.”
“If and when something should happen,” Reiter said, “they would love to come back to Camp Towanda. We’re both interested.”
The rumor mill for a “Wet Hot American Summer” sequel has always churned since the movie hit cult status in the mid-2000s. That mill went off the charts last week when the film’s original co-writer and star, Michael Showalter, told the Bravo talk show “Watch What Happens Live” that a sequel was “absolutely” going to happen and “the whole gang” would be back. The assertion drew big applause from the studio audience.
That’s a big leap for a movie almost completely ignored when it premiered in the summer of 2001, opening on just a handful of screens across the country. It didn’t even make $300,000 at the box office despite a cast that included at-the-time comedy stalwarts like Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce and Molly Shannon.
It never played anywhere near northeast Pennsylvania.
The legend of the movie grew, however, when it hit the video market the next year. Then it started getting heavy rotation on cable channels like Comedy Central and lately on Logo.
Now it’s a movie with rabid fans crying out for a sequel, and Reiter is hopeful any possible production would come back to the camp. He knows, however, this time will be different.
“I could see security being an issue,” he said. “The last time, we were really low-key. That’s the way everyone wanted it, and we were able to keep it that way. I imagine it would be different this time around.”
The movie was one of Bradley Cooper’s first jobs, but he’s since gone on to stardom as the star of “The Hangover” franchise. Others in the movie’s cast — Rudd, Poehler, Christopher Meloni and Elizabeth Banks — have also gone on to much bigger things.
Also, the original was filmed over 28 days in the spring, the time when Camp Towanda is gearing up for its summer season.
“That was a challenge,” Reiter said. “We can get in their way, they can get in ours. But I think if it happened again, it would be different, we know more about it now.”
The production had about 150 people at the camp, and more might be there for a sequel. That would mean extra people in town for a month helping the local economy.
“Those are people eating, shopping, staying in hotels, it’s a big boost,” Reiter said.