As a fan of film, I love discovering about the production process and the stories of what could have been. But television also has some great tales as well.
Kevin Smith, a young man from New Jersey had just maxed out several credit cards and was probably going to be in debt for the rest of his life. He had just finished making a small independent film with his friends about life at a local convenience store. That film was Clerks.
Miramax bought the film and it became a big success grossing over $3 million dollars with a limited theatrical run. Clerks only cost $27,575 to produce, the music clearance rights alone cost more.
Kevin moved onto his next project Mallrats. Meanwhile, television executives thought they could capitalise on the success of Clerks and tried to convert it into a half hour show. Touchstone Television produced a pilot in 1995 but didn’t inform Kevin Smith of their plan.
As this was created for television, all the profanity and great humour from the film was removed and replaced with safe, family-friendly entertainment. The show uses characters and locations from the film and also tries to make the connection by using several songs from the film’s soundtrack but to no avail.
By the time Kevin Smith discovered the show was in production, there was little he could do, especially as he was already shooting Mallrats at this time. He tried to get onboard by writing a script for the television show but this was rejected.
The show does feature a character called Ray who originally was going to be called Jay until Kevin Smith pointed out that he owned the copyright for his two most famous creations, the other being Silent Bob.
The part of Randal had already been cast and was played by Jim Breuer. The original Dante and Randall from Clerks, Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson, both auditioned for the role of Dante with no luck.
After seeing the final product, they both said they were actually glad they didn’t succeed. The part of Dante went to Andrew Lowery. A third character, a clerk from an ice cream store called Todd, was played by Rick Gomez.
Having watched the show for this article I can confirm that such a great independent film has been watered down into a generic comedy sitcom and it’s easy to see why it was never picked up for a full series.
This is one “What Could Have Been…” that I’m glad never happened at all!