“Warren the Ape” comes to the airwaves June 14 at 10:30pm ET/PT
The brainchild of Dan Milano, Greg the Bunny’s creative “dad,” is the latest “Fabricated-American” superstar with a crooked halo: Warren The Ape.
Milano’s “Warren” pokes a big banana at the pathos of “the life of a celebrity” reality show, focused on the trials and tribulations of a D-grade celebrity puppet who is attempting to clean up his act, patch up his relationships and scramble his way back into the Hollywood limelight with the help of his doctor, Dr. Drew Pinsky.
His new show “Warren the Ape” premieres June 14 at 10:30pm ET/PT on MTV.
It all began with Warren getting bitten by the fame bug on the former sitcom “Greg the Bunny”, and Warren’s life has been in a downward spiral ever since the show got cancelled.
Booze, chicks, debt and porn now fill up most of Warren’s sotted sad days.
His disastrous seedy exploitation films (Bad Po Fo), obscure industrials, low-rent theatre productions and a regrettable string of skin flicks have left him hanging his helmeted head in shame.
“From what I’ve seen of my show, I’m afraid it casts me in a negative light,” said Warren the Ape. “I’m excited to be back on television, but why must a first rate actor be relegated to a second rate cable network?”
Milano and company poke big holes in the bubble of the celebrity-obsessed pop culture world. They cleverly parody a genre and script the series in a similar vein of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Following the show launch, each week new videos of Warren the Ape will be available on mtv.com.
Monsters and Critics participated in a robust panel during the winter TCA’s in Pasadena where Dr. Drew Pinsky, “Warren” (Dan Milano), Sean Baker, and Spencer Chinoy talked Ape issues, after viewing a rough clip of the series:
WARREN THE APE: I just want to say I actually have not yet approved the use of that footage. I think it portrays me in a negative light. It’s just temporary. Okay?
SEAN BAKER: We have releases, Warren. We can use whatever we want.
WARREN THE APE: Well, I believe I should get involved in final cut, because that’s defamation.
Question Warren, when you were in Dr. Drew’s rehab, did you get to know any celebrities, and which one was your favorite?
WARREN THE APE: Well, you know, we’re sort of discouraged from, you know, mixing up too much because, well, I have a tendency to get randy with some of the folks there. I mostly just hung out with Jeff Conaway and did puzzles.
He’s terrible, by the way. He doesn’t know to go with the edges first, you know. Yeah, he’s a genius. You put it together and he’s like, “Oh, it’s a camel.” I’m like, “Yeah, that’s” Yeah, Jeff, we’ve been staring at it for hours.
Question Dr. Drew, are you getting involved in this show because maybe there’s a life lesson that you can impart to a viewer?
DR. DREW: Yeah, absolutely. As Tony said, the people are coming to television for comedy. I’ve really built my career on finding ways to meet young people on their turf. I’m not going to go to the Food Network to do a show on addiction you know what I mean? to teach young people about addiction.
And I’ve always sort of considered what I do as kind of bait and switch. We’ll go, entertain, but there will be some messaging behind it that I’ll be in control of that hopefully people really learn something. Although, working with Warren, it’s been a bit of a wild card. I’m kind of a little more
WARREN THE APE: You know
DR. DREW: … nervous about this than I was when I started.
WARREN THE APE: I would say the show is really about an actor’s recovery. It’s about a thespian who, you know, finds the power within himself to reclaim and earn the spotlight primarily.
DR. DREW: Yeah, his fame preoccupations are a problem.
WARREN THE APE: We touch on addiction, but it’s not so much a part of it, I would say. Right?
SPENCER CHINOY: Well, actually, it’s a pretty big part of it, actually.
WARREN THE APE: Well
SPENCER CHINOY: Every episode really deals with a different addiction that Warren has, so you’ve got sex, his sex addiction, his drug addiction, his gambling addiction.
WARREN THE APE: Yeah, well, look. Relapse is part of recovery, so I’m recovering in almost every episode.
SEAN BAKER: We like to refer to this show as sort of a “Breaking Bonaduce” meets “The Muppet Show” or “The Muppet Movie.”
WARREN THE APE: Can’t get much more broken than Bonaduce, but I’m giving it a shot.
Question Dr. Drew, if I recall correctly, a year or so ago, you either wrote an article or did something on the narcissism.
DR. DREW: This is specifically taking that on. This is that topic. This is going at someone who got some issues around the deployment of reality as a way of gratifying narcissistic impulses, diverting him from his real issues, which is his recovery, which requires humility. He hates this stuff.
WARREN THE APE: Yeah. The show’s really not about narcissism. It’s just all about me.
That’s how it was pitched to me, anyway.
Question: What are you wearing on your head?
WARREN THE APE: Oh, this is a helmet. It’s a bit of a trademark. It’s something I wear. It’s a bit of security blanket. It also helps me stand out at auditions, you know.
DR. DREW: He and special ed went to the same stylist.
WARREN THE APE: I think it’s rather dignified. So anyway, the thing to me is we’ve done a bunch of shows. Most of them were iterations of a franchise called “Greg the Bunny.” Let’s see.
There was “Greg the Bunny” in 1999, canceled. “Greg the Bunny” in 2001, canceled. Then a return to “Greg the Bunny” somewhere around 2006. It was kind of a dark period. I don’t remember the exact date canceled. So finally, somebody figured out that the problem was the bunny, which I had been saying all along.
SEAN BAKER: Yeah, all along, actually. We actually I think, for the most part
WARREN THE APE: Geniuses.
SEAN BAKER: we gained sort of a cult status, and Warren was always a fan favorite.
WARREN THE APE: Yeah, cult status code for not on television.
SEAN BAKER: For a long time
Question People were asking, “When will Warren have his own show?”
SPENCER CHINOY: Yeah.
SEAN BAKER: And I think the opportunity came about where we were able to, since reality shows are so popular, there’s so many reality shows, let’s parody the style, and it just seemed to all come together. So this is a different style from the stuff we’ve done in the past. The old stuff was sitcoms or parodies of movies. This is completely a parody of reality shows now.
WARREN THE APE: Well, it’s very real to me. I mean, I’m just glad somebody finally noticed where the talent was, because cream always rises to the top, especially if it’s spoiled.
Question Warren, it does seem, though, that in doing this show that you’re sort of the latest in a long line of …
WARREN THE APE: Has beens? You can say it.
Question Well, you said it. Yeah. How does that feel for you, and do you feel this is a vehicle for a greater comeback?
WARREN THE APE: Well, listen, I’ll tell you something. If there’s one thing MTV has taught me, it’s that, you know, if you don’t mind being exploited and you’re desperate enough to let cameras into your life, it’s kind of a one way ticket to a viral infection that hopefully takes the world by storm.
You know, if “The Osbournes” taught me anything, it’s that you just need to be willing to embarrass yourself publicly, and good things come. You know, who knows. Maybe in five years I’ll be judging some kind of gong show type celebrity “watchamacall.” I think it’s sad, yes, that, you know, I mean bad behavior is often rewarded by media attention, but I’m staking my entire career move on it, so I can’t really be a hypocrite or an ape ocrite or whatever you want to call it.
Question Warren, in front of the last question, if that helps you, Warren. Could you talk about what you learned from this entire experience? And also, if you have any opinions on the late night situation at NBC, feel free to share.
WARREN THE APE: Well, I’m certainly available if they decide to go in a different direction. I think these guys locked me up in primetime, but I’m ready for late night. In fact, it’s where I flourish. Those are the hours I keep.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that, you know, you just got to save your check stubs and, you know, hope to just hold on and enjoy the ride. And I’ve been enjoying myself and they’ve been filming it, just
SEAN BAKER: All of it.
WARREN THE APE: not entirely sure that I want them taking this stuff out of context and cutting it together the way they want for the sake of their, quote, unquote, comedy, you know.
SPENCER CHINOY: You shouldn’t have signed a release, then, Warren, because we can use whatever we want.
WARREN THE APE: I was wasted. I don’t know what the hell I was signing.
SEAN BAKER: Well, we’ll look that over again.
WARREN THE APE: Joke’s on you. I just scrawled an X. Puppets can’t really sign crap anyway. Can barely hold a pen.
Question Is there any chance Greg is going to make a guest appearance?
WARREN THE APE: Oh, God. Knew that was coming. Thanks for bringing that up. Yeah, he wormed his way in there.
SEAN BAKER: We just shot with Greg yesterday, so yes. Not throughout the entire season, but a couple of episodes.
DR. DREW: Greg is a pain in my ass during the season.
Question They say not to work with children or animals. Dr. Drew…
WARREN THE APE: Greg’s both.
DR. DREW: He’s both, yeah. He’s both.
Question How’s it like working with your costar?
DR. DREW: I thought it was time we brought back some primate theater, though. There’s been a real absence of apes in theater, apes in television. This is a little equal opportunity, right?
WARREN THE APE: Yeah. I think so too. I think it’s time that people of fabric, regardless of what animal they might suggest monsters, humanoid puppets you know, it’s all good. People of fabric are looking for fresh voices, fresh faces. We don’t just count to 10 in Spanish. We don’t just
… try to sell you cookies as a sometime snack. And we’re clearly diabetic and obese.
Shouldn’t speak out of turn about Cookie Monster. I mean, he’s a nice enough guy. But let’s face it, I mean plus, these Muppets on “Sesame Street” a lot of the monsters, you know, they’ve been defanged. They’ve been domesticated.
But I tell ya, don’t bring your kids to sets because those things will go for the eyes if you’re not watching ‘em between takes, yeah.
SEAN BAKER: Please remember the politically correct term for a puppet is a fabricated American. Never refer to them as a sock.
WARREN THE APE: Thank you.
SEAN BAKER: It’s pretty derogatory.
WARREN THE APE: That’s was unusually diplomatic of you, and I appreciate it.
Question Warren, are you a method actor? And I wondered if you were feeling the pressure of starring in your own show.
WARREN THE APE: No, not at all, not at all, dear, but that’s a wonderful question, and I thank you for asking about the acting craft. I’ve learned from the masters, mostly self taught. And I am method. I believe in just being, you know. I just try to exist before the camera and let them capture what they may. It’s very easy for me to dig deep.
I’ve had a lot of adversity in my life, a lot of emotions to draw on. And I found this show to be a wonderful experience. They just point the camera at me. They follow my life, and I just open up my soul for them to see. And it cuts beautifully, some really touching and wonderful moments have been captured. Wouldn’t you say, Drew?
DR. DREW: I’m just sitting here wondering what I got myself into. Yes. The answer’s yes.
WARREN THE APE: I think we’ve had very good sessions. I think I’ve learned a lot, and you’ve learned a lot about me, which more importantly.
Question How is Greg handling multiple cancellations, and has he been able to stay grounded and not fall prey to alcohol and drugs?
WARREN THE APE: Well, Greg’s pretty straitlaced, wouldn’t you say?
DR. DREW: Greg he doesn’t seem to notice the cancellations.
SEAN BAKER: He invested his money wisely. He’s living quite well.
WARREN THE APE: He just keeps on yapping whether there’s a camera there or not, you know.
DR. DREW: Greg is disconnected from reality. Let’s be clear. He’s not with us.
WARREN THE APE: Yeah, he’s what we would say an “arrested development.”
DR. DREW: Truly.
WARREN THE APE: Gosh.
DR. DREW: He had some … he was… you know, he’s a rabbit. And when he was younger, he was exposed to his parents doing some things that were disturbing to him so
WARREN THE APE: Yeah, gosh. I mean, he’s in his 30s. He talks like he’s five, and I don’t think he’s once humped anything, so his bunny instincts should have kicked in.
DR. DREW: But he’s busy fixing Warren.
Warren, two questions. One, Dr. Drew has a lot of jobs. I’m curious if you feel like he’s really giving you enough of his attention.
WARREN THE APE: That’s a good point. You know, I really do think he should focus on me more. I do think that he can easily be distracted by his other clients. He’s got many shows. And it could be argued that he’s overextending himself, and we could blame some of my relapses on his lack of attention.
DR. DREW: Thanks for that.
WARREN THE APE: Maybe if I just got a little more love. (Looking adoringly at Dr. Drew.)
Question And the second question. Warren, have you seen “Avenue Q”? Did you enjoy it?
WARREN THE APE: I did. I enjoyed it very much. I enjoyed it very much. I’ve never seen such a you know, I’m surprised that we’re so progressive now that we can have such unabashed sodomy on the Broadway stage and yet people seem to eat it up. You know, all those puppets just hanging out there on those humans, it’s kind of sick. But I’m into that stuff so I thought it was very progressive of people to take their kids to it and everything, you know, some of them. It’s dirty stuff, funny stuff.
Question Warren, will your ex wife Maggie feature in the show at all?
WARREN THE APE: Ah, well, you know your stuff. I appreciate that.
I’m in my third divorce from Maggie currently, and this is the first time I’ve been able to recoup any proceeds she won’t be getting her fingers into. So I’m trying to make a clean break there. And also, we say those relationships are poisonous aren’t they, Drew? because they’re triggers?
DR. DREW: All your relationships are poisonous, Greg. Greg? Warren.
WARREN THE APE: Yeah, it’s fine. I know. Everybody’s learning the new title, you know.
SEAN BAKER: We’re currently developing a couple of love interests for Warren, so he’ll have a few different ones this season.
WARREN THE APE: Yes. But the passion between Maggie and I runs deep and has for a long time.
SPENCER CHINOY: You guys enable each other a lot, though, right?
WARREN THE APE: Enabling or being enabled is pretty much my MO, yeah.
Question Dr. Drew, I’m trying to think back when you were going through all your training.
DR. DREW: Could I have imagined this?
Question I mean, you just sat there with Warren and told us that Greg the Bunny was disconnected from reality.
DR. DREW: It’s moments like these that make me proud. My mother’s proud, too. Yeah. No, it’s my career has been a really interesting, creative ride. I did not intend to be in media when I was a third and fourth year medical student. If I was a resident and you told me I’d be sitting here, I would have thought you were you needed to see me.
I mean, it’s been interesting. But it’s been a fascinating, wonderful experience at the same time, because opportunities like this to use my craft, to creatively change the culture in a positive direction, I mean, these are things these are good things, so I enjoy it.
WARREN THE APE: I never thought this would happen, to be honest with you. I mean, a lot of people told me I needed to hit rock bottom before I actually got myself into therapy, and I guess a show on MTV is rock bottom.
DR. DREW: Pretty close.
WARREN THE APE: Yeah, I’m there.
SEAN BAKER: Just breaking the fourth wall for a second, there’s a third member of the creator team right here, Dan Milano, and we’re so blessed to be working with this guy. He’s a really improvisational genius, I consider him to be.
WARREN THE APE: Ooh.
SEAN BAKER: So it’s a pleasure to be on the set with him every day.
WARREN THE APE: Somebody has a hug coming backstage, ahh.
QUESTION: Warren, what do you hope people take away from this show?
WARREN THE APE: Well, at the end of the day, I hope everyone has learned a little bit of a lesson. I hope, you know, we’re teaching kids that it’s important to be yourself and to love who you are and to buy anything with my picture or logo on it.
I really hope they just eat this stuff up, you know. “Look for the helmet. That’s the Warren brand.” Yeah, it’s important to be yourself, especially on camera. It’s the most interesting thing about reality is how many takes how many takes it takes to get it right.
SPENCER CHINOY: Do another take of that, Warren.
WARREN THE APE: Yeah, exactly. See, that was a perfect example.
You’re very tolerant, progressive people, and I love you.
Warren on Chatroulette
Warren the Ape in Bad Fo Po