Q:Why a duck?
A: My first film was a documentary called The Marx Brothers in a Nutshell. ''Why a duck?'' is a reference to an old Marx Brothers routine from their first film (and Broadway show) ''The Cocoanuts.'' Groucho is going over a map with Chico … ''Here's a little peninsula, and here's a viaduct leading over to the mainland.'' Chico, of course responds with, ''Why a duck?'' When I formed my corporation for my Marx Brothers documentary in 1981, I called it Whyaduck Productions, Inc., figuring I'd dissolve it after production, then start a new company for the next film. But I found that people remembered my company name even if they forgot my name, so I just kept the corporation running permanently. So now this silly name, Whyaduck, still appears on all of my work, meaning the first laugh usually comes during the opening credits.
That's why a duck!
Q: How is your last name pronounced?
A: Like Why-dee, or ''Whitey.'' Needless to say, my black friends really love calling me by my last name.
Q: You're usually credited as ''Robert B. Weide.'' What does the ''B'' stand for?
Q: I'm a huge fan of yours and I have no life. How can I keep apprised of the status of your forthcoming projects, DVD releases, personal appearances, etc?
A: My, how flattering! You need to sign up for the DuckProds mailing list on my homepage. What you don't want to do is send me an e-mail asking for updates. 99% of those e-mails go unanswered, merely for lack of time. Sometimes my office will e-mail a response if the answer can be relayed in ten words or less. But don't count on it.
Q: If I sign up for your e-mail list, will I be constantly inundated with your obnoxious, self-promoting mass e-mails?
A: No. I only send out my obnoxious, self-promoting mass e-mails about two or three times a year.
Q: How can I submit a question for this DUQ FAQ?
A: You can e-mail my office at faq(at)duckprods.com. If my assistant thinks it's a good question, she'll submit it to me and it will go on this page. If it hasn't appeared within three weeks, assume it wasn't ''Frequently Asked'' enough.
Q: Do you accept scripts, treatments, ideas, concepts, pitches, notions, bribes?
A: No to everything. What kind of bribes?
Q: What if my idea is really, really cool and original and a surefire money-maker?
A: See previous answer.
Q: Would you be willing to pass my script onto someone who would read it?
A: No, that's your agent's job. If you don't have an agent, you should get one.
Q: How do I…
A: Please don't ask me how you get an agent. Let me make this simple. Here's the disclaimer from the Contact page on my website: ''Whyaduck Productions does not accept story outlines, treatments, scripts or ideas for other people's work, so please don't send them. Unsolicited material sent through the mail is either returned or destroyed, unread. All e-mail containing ''pitches'' or story ideas are deleted, unread. Also, we do not act as a forwarding agent for messages or correspondence intended for any third parties.''
Is that clear enough? Hey, stop that! Sniffling will get you nowhere.
Q: Do you still have any involvement with Curb Your Enthusiasm?
A: I retired from my full-time duties as Executive Producer and principal director after Season Five. I went back to direct a single episode for Season Six (“The Anonymous Donor”). I also returned to direct another episode for the current Season 8. It's called Palestinian Chicken and will premiere on July 24, 2011. I have no plans to return the series full time, but will hopefully continue to direct an episode per season for as long as Larry does the show.
Q: Why did you leave the show?
A: After spending a year on the original one-hour special, then five more years on the series, I simply felt ready to move on. I loved working on the show, which was very good to me, but because the series took up about nine months of the year, I was unable to pursue other opportunities that were presenting themselves. After Season Five, I had committed to directing the feature film How To Lose Friends & Alienate People in England, which I started shooting soon after Larry started production on Season Six.
Q: How long will Larry keep doing the show?
A: As long as he’s having fun and coming up with story ideas he likes. It seems that every year, Larry thinks he's going to call it quits, but then eventually gets the urge for another season. So who knows?
Q: Is it true that an episode of Curb helped an innocent man get out of a murder rap?
A: Where do you people come up with this stuff? Okay, actually, the answer is “yes.” It’s one of the most bizarre events to come out of the show. For the full scoop, read this article from the Hollywood Reporter.
Q: I never saw any ads or commercials for this film, and by the time I realized it had been released, it was gone. What happened?
A: You obviously live in the United States. In the UK it opened as the #1 film, and remained in the top 10 for about a month. It's a strange tale, and I refer you to my interview on this very website which attempts to unravel the saga..
Q: I read that you and Simon Pegg prepared a bunch of bonus material for the DVD that got left off of the American release. Why did the American distributors leave it off? Will it be on the Region 2 DVD in the UK?
A: Ah, another in a seemingly endless series of odd tales. Yes, the bonus material we prepared will be on the UK DVD, and in all the English-speaking territories other than North America. It’s not that the North American distributors didn’t want the bonus material (so they say), it’s just that they screwed up, plain and simple. To get the full story, I refer you to this press release, and a follow-up interview.
The stripped down U.S. DVD was released in February, 2009, and the far superior UK release date was March 16, 2009. As far as Europe goes, it’s country-by-country, so I don’t know what to expect regarding the bonus material, or lack thereof, on the continent.
Q: Wasn't it announced in the trades last year that you had created a comedy pilot for ABC? What happened to it?
A: ABC loved the script and was about to order production of the pilot. But we had different opinions about casting the lead role. I actually created it for a specific actress who was a virtual unknown. ABC knew that going in, and they liked the actress, but then they got nervous at the last minute and asked me to consider casting the part, which I wasn't interested in doing. Finally, I got the call saying they would order the pilot that day if I would open casting on the lead. Otherwise, they weren't prepared to move forward. So I said ''Thank you,'' and we parted ways. It was very amicable, and prior to that, my working relationship with the network was extremely positive. There were no histrionics on either sidejust two different points of view. I actually liked the ABC execs I was dealing with.
Q: Weren’t you going to produce an American version of the British series Peep Show?
A: Yes, I was attached to such a project for a while. I fell in love with the series on a transatlantic flight and started considering the possibilities of an American version. Spike TV in the states was very interested, and I told them the only way I’d move forward was with the blessing, cooperation, and involvement by the British creators, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong. The guys happily gave me their blessing, and I started writing the pilot in December ‘06. However, it took Spike TV so long to nail down the contract, by the time the deal closed, I was in England in full production on “How To Lose Friends.” I offered to finish the script when I finished shooting in September of ’07, but Spike was in a hurry to get things moving before a possible writer’s strike in the states, so I relinquished the project. In the Hollywood tradition of “hurry up and wait,” as of this writing (January ’09), they still haven’t made a pilot, even though they eventually got Sam and Jesse to write the script. I hear it’s still in the works. The best thing to come of it all was a continuing friendship with Bain & Armstrong, and the lovely and very clever Olivia Colman (Sophie). I’ve also established an acquaintance with Mitchell & Webb. If you’re not familiar with the original British series, do check it out.
Q: Would you consider doing another TV show after ''Curb?''
A: Sure, under the right circumstances. But as you can tell from the scenario described above, I have to believe in what I'm doing because, fortunately, I don't have to work just for the gig. And of course, I can't let a TV schedule interfere with movies, which is what I'm focusing on for the time being.
Q: Is your Oscar nominated documentary, Lenny Bruce: Swear To Tell the Truth, ever going to come out on home video and DVD?
A: Sadly, I think I can finally answer that question with a very definitive ''probably not.'' For the full story, follow this link to my Lenny Bruce page, and see the last paragraph. And I think you need that little ® insignia after ''Oscar.''
Q: We've been reading for years about your planned feature film based on the Kurt Vonnegut novel, ''The Sirens of Titan.'' When can we expect it to reach theaters?
A: Let me check my calendar to see exactly when hell is due to freeze over. Actually, it's a good question with a sad answer. I refer you to my page for The Sirens of Titan. You'll find the answer at the top of the page. Get out your handkerchiefs.
Q: Where is your Kurt Vonnegut documentary? Haven't you been filming him for years?
A: Actually, that's two questions. But yes, my Vonnegut documentary has broken all records for my longest-gestating project that I still plan to complete. I've been following Kurt around with a camera since 1988, so do the math, as they say. You actually see him age on film, whereas I've only aged off-camera. It’s a long-term passion project that doesn’t pay any bills, so my work on it has been on and off through the years. I’ve long given up on predicting when this film will be completed. However, as of this writing (January, 2009) I’ve recently reactivated the project and hope to make some progress before the next remunerative distraction kicks in. I refer you to this link to get all the details.
Q: Didn't I see you and your dog on The Dog Whisperer?
A: Why, yes you did. My wife Linda and I are happy to say that our pooch Jake has been doing great since the miraculous Cesar Millan set him straight. And what dog in Hollywood could hold his head up high without his own page on the IMDb?