Scott Aukerman admits to making Michael Bolton tackle “silly songs that he would never sing.”
As a matter of fact, here’s what happened when Aukerman told IndieWire how he and “Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special” co-director Akiva Schaffer had fun pushing the iconic crooner into such absurd heights.
That’s how IndieWire’s interview with a few of the men behind the Netflix special began, and things certainly didn’t get any less weird — very befitting, considering the premise of Bolton as a super-sexy troubadour out to change the world.
The special pushes the singer into newfound crazy territory, a comedy special based on the joke of Bolton being far more than a pop singer with impressive range. Aukerman and Schaffer were quick to offer joke answers to questions about their collaboration, leading to extended riffs like:
Aukerman: “I’ve always wanted to direct something, but only half of the screen.”
Schaffer: “Maybe because you’re lazy.”
Aukerman: “Yeah, well, also because one of these eyes is a glass eye. So I can’t see the left side of the screen so I knew I needed help so…”
Schaffer: “That’s how we co-directed. I can see both sides but I was like, ‘You know what? This is going to be nice. I can just like relax a little bit, knowing that that side’s taken care of.'”
Bolton: “I can only see out of my third eye.”
Aukerman: “He’s a very spiritual, spiritual person. We had to CGI in his eyeballs for the entire special.”
Schaffer: “And erase the third one. It was very expensive.
Aukerman: “It cost a lot.”
Aukerman – the host of comedy mainstay “Comedy Bang! Bang!” – and The Lonely Island actually ended up collaborating on the hour-long special after working together on several awards shows hosted by Lonely Island co-founder Andy Samberg, including the MTV Movie Awards and the 2015 Emmys.
“I knew [Aukerman] was just good at getting a writer’s room together and keeping the train on the tracks and making it all happen — as well as being a funny writer and performer,” Schaffer said.
Both of them happened to also be in dark periods career-wise: IFC had just canceled “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” (which Schaffer co-directed) failed to rack up major dollars at the box office last summer. “We could really find each other at the bottom,” Schaffer said. “We actually were just both drinking ourselves to death.”
“It wasn’t happening quick enough because neither of us really have a taste of it,” Aukerman added. “We ordered wine coolers.”
Back to the real questions, like how the special ended up at Netflix. “Creatively it just felt like that’s where I’d want to see this, as a person who has Netflix and watches Netflix,” Schaffer said.
There was no script for the special when they brought it to the streaming service — but they pitched the concept as “a Christmas special of some sort” and photoshopped concept art that ended up being relatively close to what actually got used: “a romance novel cover we then put [Bolton’s] head on.” (And yes, the Lonely Island’s “Saturday Night Live” sketch “Captain Jack Sparrow,” featuring Bolton having some fun with his persona, didn’t hurt in terms of pitching.)
Beyond “Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special,” a bonus sketch by Claudia O’Doherty has been uploaded to Netflix’s Trailers and More section. It’s a must-see – regardless of how you feel about the special.
“That was the only one that we really killed us to cut,” Schaffer said. “They figured out a way to put it into the bonus features because it was gonna kill us that it would just go away or whatever.”
Will there be another special? The gentlemen were reluctant to commit, in the way of those who have not signed on a dotted line tend to be. While there’s no plan at the moment, Schaffer said that “the response we’re getting from this has been so overwhelmingly positive that who knows, right?”
“I mean, there’s other things that we could do with Michael,” Aukerman said.
Added Bolton: “I’m only getting better.”
“Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special” is currently streaming on Netflix.