Ron Howard and comedy site Funny or Die have teamed up on a pitch for the Motion Picture Television Fund.
The six-minute video, which dropped online on Wednesday, is titled “Ron Howard Digs Up a Very Strange Voicemail His Agent Left Him in 1983.” The clip delves into the development of Howard’s comedy “Splash” following the success of “Night Shift,” which starred Michael Keaton, Henry Winkler and Shelley Long.
“If you’re there, please pick up because it cannot wait. Shelley Long has passed on ‘Splash,” the agent tells Howard. “Shelley felt that Lowell and Babaloo’s take was too funny. She wanted the mermaid to be more of the sea monster that she was in the origin story.”
The agent also tells Howard that Richard Gere and Armand Assante have passed on the male lead and tells him that an actress named Daryl Hannah — “The body of a goddess and the name of an accountant” — has been set for lead. He asks Howard to fax him in his car as soon as possible.
The agent is the fictional Warren Klein, who has made repeated voicemail appearances on Funny or Die. He’s described as “the most powerful agent in Hollywood” in the 1980s. “He represented the biggest stars of the era. Presumed lost, the Warren Klein Voicemail Archive was discovered last year in a foreclosed storage unit in Brentwood, CA. Warren Klein was ranked #61 on Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People Of 1982.'”
Howard’s career in Hollywood dates back to starring as a 6-year-old in “The Andy Griffith Show” in 1960. He begins the video by noting that he’s seen a lot of “crazy, crazy” occurrences since that but nothing that rivals the current pandemic.
He then intros the voicemail by saying, “It actually makes me miss some of my old problems. It’s been helpful to go back and reconsider moments of my life that were problems.”
Matt Oberg and Jody Lambert created the video, and Howard shot his scenes. Jen Clymer, the MPTF’s director of media, said the idea quickly with Funny or Die approaching MPTF’s Next Gen board members. “I think it’s just genius,” she added.
Howard concludes the video by saying, “Somehow I survived that crisis. In the meantime, the Motion Picture Television Fund is here to help.”
The MPTF was created in 1921 by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, Conrad Nagel, Milton Sills and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., to offer assistance and care to those of limited means in the motion picture industry. In addition to the Woodland Hills campus, it has six other primary care facilities in the Los Angeles area. Its slogan is “We take care of our own.”