HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – The future is uncertain for a much-anticipated M*A*S*H* re-boot set in Afghanistan after the show hit minefields — and not the golf-course kind.
“The energy surrounding this project was amazing,” said Erin Curtis, the show’s producer. “Channing Tatum walked into the press conference already dressed as Hawkeye Pierce, in a red bathrobe over DCUs and a reflective belt. Every time we said ‘troops,’ ‘deployed,’ or ‘America’ the crowd kept giving a standing ovation. It seemed like we had a guaranteed hit on our hands.”
The producers introduced an all-star cast, featuring Chris Hemsworth as B.J. Honeycutt, Jonah Hill as Radar O’Reilly, Seth Rogan as Corporal Klinger, Benedict Cumberbatch as Maj. Charles Winchester, Tommy Flanagan as Father Mulcahy and special guest Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Potter. When producer Alan Alda announced he’d have a recurring cameo as counterintelligence nutter Col. Flagg, the applause wouldn’t stop.
“The first media question fell flat,” Curtis continued, “Variety asked, ‘How can the show have so many big-ticket actors?’ I told her that this was modern war, so all your favorite characters would rotate out every six months. That didn’t go over well.”
Taylor swift walked in next, her blond hair pulled into the signature top knot of Hot Lips Houlihan, to make the announcement that she would not only be playing Hot Lips as her first serious acting role, but that she’d be singing the Swedish-beat/country-sweet version of the M*A*S*H* theme song, “Suicide is Painless.” The crowd, including several top military officers invited to the roll-out, shifted uncomfortably in their seats.
“We knew that we were in trouble,” said Curtis, “So we screened the pilot to a focus group of OEF vets.”
Before the teaser was over, the group was already skeptical.
“Why do they have a still?” asked one member. “Don’t they know that you can get that stuff from the French Compound?” Others noted, “Or the ‘terps get hooch from in town,” and “My grandma mails it to me in a Listerine bottle.”
In the next scene, Hawkeye and Honeycutt launched a plot to sneak into the nurses’ shower trailer.
“That is clearly not ok,” one of the panelists said. “It's like they've never been forced to sit through an EO or SHARP briefing."
"Is this the big dramatic turn? Are we going to see their court martial next?" anonther panelist said.
In the shower trailer, Hawkeye and Honeycutt find Hot Lips and Burns in a steamy make-out session as Burns talks about his wife. The show’s producers watched eagerly for the panel to react to the infidelity. They never did.
“We asked the group about how they would react to making Maj. Burns female, and they just shrugged. Exasperated, we got the idea that maybe we’d make Burns female and having a relationship with Hot Lips. They just shrugged some more. One participant, looking confused, asked if M*A*S*H* was still trying to be a comedy, or if we were just trying to be accurate,” said Curtis.
The pilot took a break from jokes about the nurses when choppers arrived. The nurses on the panel seemed frustrated.
“No, casualties like that go straight to Germany,” one said, as the other said, “Can we make it a scabies outbreak instead? Chronic bronchitis from the burn pits? Chlamydia?”
There is some hope for the show, however, after KBR stepped in to fund the advertising for the entire first season, which will heavily feature a plotline of Klinger trying to fight his medical discharge because the chow halls are so delicious.