Sundance 2011: In Good Company with Vince Jolivette



Co-producer of James Franco’s Three’s Company: The Drama, Vince Jolivette also acted the part of the skirt-chasing neighbor, Larry Dallas. The project is part of the New Frontier art program at Sundance, which calls itself one that “explores narrative structure, the three-dimensionality of the cinematic image, and innovations in transmedia storytelling.” The installation is projected onto all four walls of a small room in Park City’s Historic Miner’s Hospital that is decorated with potted plants and couches for viewing, bringing the audience to the center of the action: James Franco, Vince Jolivette, Dana Morgan, and Tyler Danna wear wigs and recreate episodes, practically line for line, as if the sit-com were a low-budget soap opera.

DEENAH VOLLMER: Tell me about the Three’s Company: The Drama.

VINCE JOLIVETTE: James [Franco] wanted to do this, because he wanted to see what would happen if you took a very successful comedy and do the entire thing as dramatic as possible, and this was our experiment. We were in Vancouver shooting another movie [Rise of the Apes] and the living room where he was staying looked exactly like, or with a little arrangement, could look like the living room of Three’s Company. So we were just like, you know what, let’s just get weird with it, get some wigs on, have a guy play Chrissy, and see what we come up with. I grew up watching Three’s Company, so I knew all of the episodes, so I was just trying to figure out which ones would be kind of fun to do and that’s what we have here.

VOLLMER: Why the choice to project it on four screens?

JOLIVETTE: That was James’ idea… He’s really been experimenting with new ways of exhibiting things, and in this contained space when you get in there and you see it on all four walls, it’s almost a little overwhelming at first, you don’t know where to look, but it’s just an interesting way to show things.

VOLLMER: Tell me about the role of Larry. How did you become Larry?

JOLIVETTE: [laughs] There’s a part of me that actually is Larry, a very small part, that I can tap into, but I grew up watching the show and just, Larry’s hilarious, the guy that’s always going after the girl.

VOLLMER: Was it an easy role for you to play?

JOLIVETTE: It was very easy. All I had to do was just say the lines and I was automatically the character.

VOLLMER: How did you all choose who was going to be who?

JOLIVETTE: It was Dana Morgan who plays Janet. She’s a natural blonde, so I thought she was gonna play Chrissy, but James kept saying, “Let’s have her as Janet because she’s always the one that’s the most level-headed, and she’s always trying to figure out the logic of the situation.” So she’s more that part, so we just put her in that dark wig. And then our friend Tyler, who had a beard at the time, we just thought it’d be kind of weird to have him play Chrissy with that blonde wig and just kind of screw it up a little bit, so I don’t know, James came up with the idea.

VOLLMER: How long did it take you guys to film it?

JOLIVETTE: We shot it all in one day, pretty much—well, Sunday afternoon. [laughs] And everyone’s kind of scrambling around trying to remember their lines and stuff… but really about 95% of what we say is actually in the script of the real show, the TV show, but we improvised every now and then… There’s a few F-bombs in there and you know…

VOLLMER: Who came up with theme song reenvisionment? “Come and Knock On Our Dick, Come and Lick on Our Balls”…

JOLIVETTE: Oh you know, we were just making fun of it, kind of, whatever sounded funny and rhymed, and, what sounded stupid… James basically came up with that.

VOLLMER: How did you guys choose the New Frontier as the venue to premier it?

JOLIVETTE: We were at the New Frontier last year and we thought it was the most amazing thing. The New Frontier is basically showing brand new ways of media interaction, and it was just like, this is what we want to do. When we shot this and we saw it, we were like, this could work out well somehow in the New Frontier. Yeah, I think that’s the best part about Sundance, because it is a new frontier of showing things and presenting things.

VOLLMER: Is there a plan to show it anywhere else?

JOLIVETTE: This is it, for now. The owners of Three’s Company, they were very hesitant to even show this, as you can no doubt imagine…

VOLLMER: Did they see it?

JOLIVETTE: They’ve seen it, yes, and they were a little bit taken aback, but James spoke to the main guy there and was like, “Look, this is our artistic vision, and we’re presenting it in a very artistic way.” We’re not making fun of it. It’s very artsy. So, in the end they finally were like, “Okay, fine, we’ll let you do it.”