Adam F. Goldberg, King of the Fanboys
The Breaking_In creator gives as good as he geeks.
Adam F. Goldberg – not to be confused with Saving Private Ryan actor Adam Goldberg - may not have written the book on being a geeky fanboy, but he certainly wrote the movie. In Fanboys, a group of Star Wars fanatics break into George Lucas's production facility circa 1999 to try and sneak a screening of The Phantom Menace for their terminally ill friend. In his new sitcom Breaking_In, a group of colleagues try to test security systems to see what they can extract. We're sensing a theme. One which Goldberg is more than happy to expand upon.
GeekChicDaily: What was the inspiration for Breaking_In?
AFG: Basically, I've been obsessed with The King of Kong ever since I saw it, wanting to potentially make it into a [narrative] feature. I knew I had to meet the guy that did it, Seth Gordon. So this past year when I was looking for a TV idea to do, I heard that Seth wanted to get into TV and do a pilot. I sat down with him, and he had just finished a documentary on the world of cyber-security, following hackers. One piece of it was a woman who had lost maybe $200,000 to a Nigerian scammer. She'd lost everything, and so the hacker comes in and tries to shore up all her security and really show her that it was a scam. Because even though she knew she was being scammed, she still didn't really believe it.
So Seth showed me this documentary, and said, "I think a great show would be about this office filled with these different kinds of hackers, all the gadget guys, safe-crackers. There are literally offices where they're paid to break in by companies to find security leaks." So my idea was, let's do an office show and mix it with capers every week.
GCD: As you're also the writer of Fanboys – was the sci-fi crazy character of Cash on Breaking_In based on you?
AFG: Oh, without a doubt....initially the [lead] Cameron character was supposed to be a nerdy guy, and I kinda switched it over to Cash, and I didn't want to muddle it, so I'm giving it all to Cash now.
GCD: He also keeps up a running theme in your work of trying to stalk the talent and break into their estate. Have you ever tried to stalk a celebrity like that?
AFG: That's how I became friends with Michael Rosenbaum! I’m a huge Superman fan, and after he went off Smallville, Happy Madison productions – who I was working with on a pilot at the time – had a meeting with Rosenbaum. And I'm like, "Dude, I wanna meet Michael Rosenbaum! I love that guy!" For a while I just kept harassing them, and then when I met him, we just had so much in common. He's a huge geek. He has the ultimate man-cave, just filled with toys and the coolest autographed posters and video games; that's how I became friends with him and this is the second TV show I've done with him. So yes, I've not only stalked celebrities, I've made them my friends.
GCD: Breaking_In is also a Happy Madison production – does Adam Sandler have anything to do with the show?
AFG: Well, it's his company, but he always seems to be busy writing some hundred-million-dollar movie or starring in one. He'll watch the episodes ultimately, but I'm really working with Doug Robinson there who runs the whole TV side and has done amazing things. Their big show is Rules of Engagement, which I think is approaching their hundredth episode. They also did Nick Swardson's Pretend Time on Comedy Central. Sandler has his movie side, which he runs, and then Doug does the TV side, but I hope to get Sandler on the show one day. That'd be awesome.
GCD: In the pilot, the purpose of the first caper seems ambiguous – are they stealing a car to test security, or just because the boss (Christian Slater) wants a new car?
AFG: It's interesting you say that, because Slater has shaped that whole character. When he read it, on the page it was just like a rageaholic, scary boss. And he suggested making this guy a man of mystery who can fly to Dubai in a night, and is really quirky, has weird weapons, and so on.
Slater, who is also a crazy uber-geek, was such a Trek fan that he literally angled himself to get in a Star Trek movie back in the early '90s (Star Trek VI). He sent me a picture of his Master Replicas Stormtrooper – it's really awesome – he's so into this stuff. He was the one who added in the original Star Trek captain's chair as a prop, and personally called Les Moonves because CBS initially wouldn't let us use it. Literally, Fox and Sony said there was no way we were going to get it, but Slater wouldn't take no for an answer, and made some calls. So he has really shaped that character, and one of the questions we’re playing with is, is he a good guy or a bad guy? You don't know.
GCD: How did you get a couple of big movie stars like Christian Slater and Odette Annable (formerly Yustman) to be on the show?
AFG: Odette wasn't really looking to do TV, but she knew Bret (Harrison); I think they lived across the street from each other. When we were looking for somebody, I was just familiar with her work from Cloverfield, and she really responded to the character. She wanted to be like an Angelina Jolie, just a bad@$$ who also has a big heart. Doing comedy, and doing something that was like a little movie every week, was something that was really appealing to her. She didn't really audition for any other pilots; we just went to her, she read it, she knew Bret, she knew Slater was in it, so she figured this was going to be fun.
Christian Slater was always at the top of our list, but the problem was that it just wasn't a part for him. He read it and saw so much promise, but went, "I don't wanna be a rageaholic! I'm not a rage guy; that's not what I do." He was on the fence because the part wasn’t on the page. So I said, "Okay, we'll make the character what you want." But I also said, "I grew up with you being hilarious: Pump up the Volume, Heathers, Very Bad Things, that's what I remember you as. I think you can do this and be really funny." And he was interested in getting back into comedy, and then also shaping a character in the way that he wanted. He just kept emailing me ideas: "What if the guy's obsessed with Skymall? What if he secretly speaks all these different languages?" All that stuff that made it into the pilot came from him.
GCD: Why is Cash's catchphrase "Boom goes the dynamite!"?
AFG: I'm obsessed with Internet memes, and in every episode I'm hiding them. I don't think anyone appreciates this but me. "Boom goes the dynamite" is the famous video of the guy from Ball State doing a really sucky sports broadcast. It's this guy who's doing a college play-by-play in sports, and he completely bombs, and he loses his place and is covered in flop sweat, then out of nowhere he just says, "Boom goes the dynamite!" A lot of people don't know these things, but there'll be that tiny little percentage who'll go, "Oh, that's awesome." Afro-Ninja, the guy with the nun-chuks who does the flip and knocks himself out, we cast him as a busboy, and he signed my nun-chuks. Then everyone was like, "You’re the biggest nerd ever."
GCD: Were you inspired by the whole Wikileaks story at all?
AFG: I'm obsessed with Wikileaks. We did a Comic-Con episode, what I call my geek opus. In it, Goonies 2 is coming out, and – inspired by when X-Men Origins: Wolverine got stolen – all of these geeks are trying to steal the movie and put it online; it's the Holy Grail. So our crew is hired to provide security on this movie, and a fan ends up stealing it from them and does a thing called "GoonieLeaks," which is like a countdown to it going online for the world to see. I don't know if it's an episode that a lot of people will respond to – the younger generation doesn't necessarily know Goonies – but for me, that's the movie of my childhood. This is what happens when Fox puts my show on the air: they get a Goonies show. We did a whole thing where Michael Rosenbaum is allergic to peanuts, and his face swells up like Sloth. We even put him in the Superman T-shirt. It doesn't get any geekier than that. It'll either get me some recognition and props, or it'll knock me off the air.
Breaking_In premieres 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on Fox.