When you initially read this headline, you probably just think “Unsold Mr. Ed pilot? What’s so interesting about that?” Well, there’s actually quite an interesting – but also bizarre and depressing story behind it.
Back in 2003, I remember reading that there was going to be a Mr. Ed reboot. The only reason I really remembered was because my Dad watched the show back in the day and he was interested in it.
Drake Sather, writer and creator of Ben Stiller’s Zoolander, was the showrunner of the reboot and apparently, he was only doing it for money and was ashamed of that very fact. The lack of apparent ‘artistic integrity’ in his mind reportedly pushed him over the edge and he shot himself in 2004 before the show was even released.
The pilot itself is pretty awful and I’m sure it wouldn’t have lasted very long. It has Sherman Hemsley (yes, that’s right) as Mr. Ed. It also features a laugh track and has a sort of creepy vibe to it given the circumstances. FOX shelved the series altogether after Sather’s suicide (which you can read more about at the bottom).
If you’re interested, the entire pilot is linked below:
I thought a little backstory on the creator was necessary. Sather was widely respected in the entertainment industry and Ben Stiller recently opened up on the deceased writer while doing press for Zoolander 2:
“Doing the movie, I always sort of thought, What would Drake have thought of this?” Stiller says. “No matter what, I’ll miss that his voice is not in the movie. There would’ve been jokes that only he could’ve thought of and that would have been hilarious.”
It was Sather’s death that actually delayed Zoolander 2. It’s pretty sad because he seems to be a truly underrated talent that was going through a lot and just couldn’t take it anymore.
Stiller even went as far as saying that Sather came up with the character:
“I may’ve played the part,” says Stiller, who dedicated the sequel to Sather, “but he’s the guy who had the idea, came up with the name, and wrote the first sketches.”
Judd Apatow said it best:
“Drake had a really dark, strong act. A lot of it was very, very harsh one-liners that shocked a lot of the audience. He would just giggle on stage. He really was a legend, one of those guys that comics would come into the back of the room to watch all the time.”
It’s also fair to wonder if Zoolander 2 would have been better with Sather behind the scenes.