A chat with Warren the Ape, Warren the Ape interview, Dan Milano, Spencer Chinoy, Sean Baker
Warren the Ape

Interviews Home / TV Home / Bullz-Eye Home

Warren “The Ape” DeMontague has been a staple (and, by coincidence, quite possibly has been stapled) of television for more than a decade, having been part of series on both IFC and Fox. Now, however, he’s finally getting the chance to step out of Greg the Bunny’s shadow and into his very own MTV reality series, cleverly titled “Warren the Ape.” The show’s been in the works for some time, and the network has been working to promote it since as far back as January, at the Winter 2010 TCA Tour. Naturally, I was in attendance, and I earned some serious bonus points with the show’s creators – Dan Milano, Spencer Chinoy, and Sean Baker – by asking a question which involved a callback to one of Warren’s earlier television incarnations.

The following is taken directly from the transcript of the panel:

QUESTION: Warren, will your ex wife Maggie feature in the show at all?
WARREN THE APE: Ah, well, you know your stuff. I appreciate that. I’m in my third divorce from Maggie currently, and this is the first time I’ve been able to recoup any proceeds she won’t be getting her fingers into. So I’m trying to make a clean break there. And also, we say those relationships are poisonous aren’t they, Drew? because they’re triggers?
DR. DREW: All your relationships are poisonous, Greg. Greg? Warren.
WARREN THE APE: Yeah, it’s fine. I know. Everybody’s learning the new title, you know.
SEAN BAKER: We’re currently developing a couple of love interests for Warren, so he’ll have a few different ones this season.
WARREN THE APE: Yes. But the passion between Maggie and I runs deep and has for a long time.
SPENCER CHINOY: You guys enable each other a lot, though, right?
WARREN THE APE: Enabling or being enabled is pretty much my MO, yeah.

Following the panel, I was able to secure a brief one-on-one with Warren. First, however, I chatted with the men behind the monkey.

Bullz-Eye: Just to identify myself, I’m the one who asked Warren the question about his ex-wife, Maggie, during the panel.

Dan Milano: "I think, in some way, that Seth Green has been a major help (for 'Greg the Bunny'). More people seem to know the Fox show more than anything else, and the stuff he did with us on IFC after Fox. My name is loosely associated with 'Robot Chicken,' and it’s kind of helped. And on the web, there seem to be a lot of followers who really did just circulate tapes and DVDs and show their friends, because when Shout Factory did DVDs of our stuff, it seemed to be received really well."

Dan Milano: Oh, God bless you, sir. You know what? You helped us in more ways than you can possibly know, because it lets the network know that there are people out there who are aware of the previous versions of the show, and how important it is to allow us to put in Easter eggs…as Joel described it…for old viewers. So, actually, that was wonderful. In fact, it threw me. I probably would’ve given you a juicier answer if I’d known it was coming, because all I was thinking was, “Holy shit, somebody out there knows about Maggie! Oh, no, Warren’s supposed to be talking!” (Laughs) What I should’ve done was… (Slips into Warren’s voice) “Have you seen her lately? I haven’t even gotten a call from her. Where is she?” That would’ve been funny…

BE: Well, my follow-up was going to be, “Are you going be visiting the Hotel Carter at any point during the series?”

DM: Nice! (In Warren’s voice) “When in Times Square, you simply must stay at the Carter. Everything you want in a Times Square hotel and less…” (Laughs) That’s literally the sign that’s posted. Some Korean family who didn’t do their translation quite right. Oh, well. Wow, so you’re definitely onboard.

BE: I am, absolutely. So how did this come about? I presume you’ve been looking for something else since IFC.

DM: It was almost a “once you stop looking for something, it shows up” kind of a thing. The whole “a watched pot never boils.” We were really trying to figure out what was next. We wanted to do a longer format show on IFC, we wanted to go another network, we pitched it around…we tried so hard, and then the writer’s strike came, and a bunch of things threw us off. We were doing different things. Once we almost sort of had some downtime and it got quiet, George Plamondon and Betsy Schechter from Picture Shack Productions, who deal predominantly in reality and are known for “Paranormal Activity,” they were acquaintances of Kevin Chinoy – Spencer’s brother – and said, “Hey, what are the guys doing with the ‘Greg the Bunny’ franchise? Don’t they own those characters? We think that would be a great idea for a show, and MTV’s looking for content.” Coincidentally, we were discussing, “Wouldn’t it funny if Warren had a reality show?” And it all just…

Spencer Chinoy: It was weird, because we were working on a film script, and I remember when…it was a few weeks before George got in touch with us, but I remember sitting there writing this and thinking, “You know, ideally, this would work better as a reality show.”

DM: It was really serendipitous. It was kind of weird.

BE: So how big is the cult of “Greg the Bunny”? I mean, obviously, you’ve got all of this stuff out on DVD, but it’s hard to measure.

Sean Baker: Well, I mean, we go to Comic-Con…or, at least, Dan has done Comic-Con several times. Not always for our show, but for “Robot Chicken,” and…

Warren the ApeDM: …it does well there. ‘Cause everybody’s there for “Mystery Science Theater” and “Family Guy” and “Robot Chicken.” I think, in some way, that Seth Green has been a major help. More people seem to know the Fox show more than anything else, and the stuff he did with us on IFC after Fox. My name is loosely associated with “Robot Chicken,” and it’s kind of helped. And on the web, there seem to be a lot of followers who really did just circulate tapes and DVDs and show their friends, because when Shout Factory did DVDs of our stuff, it seemed to be received really well. The only indication that we’ve ever had of a place for Greg the Bunny fans to gather was when we did a panel at Comic-Con to promote our DVD, and that was amazing. It was the first time we’ve ever come face to face with a group of fans, and they packed the room. It was really amazing.

SB: And now we have the social networking, which points to the fact that they’re out there. We have the Facebook fans and we have the Tweeting, so we’ll see how that works out for Warren.

BE: Speaking of Facebook, one of my friends…who has Warren as his profile photo, actually…

DM: I’ve seen it!

BE: (Laughs) I’m sure you have. Well, he told me to ask about “The Point of Upside Downness” and “Black Messiah.”

All: Oh, my God…

SB: Wow…

SC: Wait, “The Point of Upside Downness”?

DM: Is that…“Junktape” stuff?

SB: Yeah. That was Airborne in “The Point of Upside Downess,” where we paid him to do a flip, and then he…

DM: That was us paying a former skier turned user, I guess. I don’t know.

SB: He had just gotten out of Woodstock.

DM: He was high, he had just gotten out of jail, and we ran into him on the streets of Alphabet City in New York. We just had our video camera out, and he just came up, he was weird, and he said, “I’ll do a flip for ya for ten bucks,” or whatever. (Laughs)

SB: Not even. I think he did it for two bucks. Or a slice of pizza. Something like that. (Laughs)

DM: Anyway, he did a flip on camera, and we aired it.

SB: And we bought a bag of weed from him.

DM: Yeah, that’s right…and Greg smoked it! (Laughs) And that clip of Greg smoking pot from Airborne appeared on “The Howard Stern Show” many years later.

SB: Wow, that’s great. Hey, if you want a copy of the “Junktape” stuff, get in touch with us.

DM: Yeah, we’d love for people to be able to see that stuff.

SC: And Black Messiah, I still see him all the time in New York. We would just hang out…Dan lived on 7th Street and Avenue A, I lived on 6th, and Sean lived on 5th, which is one of the reasons why we were always working on the show. We were all so close! And we would go into Tompkins Square with Greg and just interview the locals, and Black Messiah was there with his guitar one day.

DM: Just a guy, y’know, kind of stoned, playing guitar in the park. He had this big, beautiful afro and wanted all the girls to notice him, so Greg said, “What’s your name?” And he said, “I’m the Black Messiah! You can call me the Black Messiah!” So Greg says… (In Greg the Bunny’s voice) “Okay, hi, Black Messiah! I’m Greg!” (Laughs) I mean, what am I going to do? I’ve got to call him something! And he sang a duet with Greg, or maybe Greg sang a song while he played guitar.

SC: He still lives in the neighborhood. I see him sometimes…

SB: We see all those guys!

SC: I screamed, “Black Messiah!” And he turned around. But he probably doesn’t go by that name.

DM: He probably just said it in the moment. He probably hasn’t been called it since.

SC: Yeah, but he turned around! He remembered. But he looked at me like, “Oh, my God, I haven’t heard that in ten years…” (Laughs)

BE: So, now, Warren was not part of “Junktape,” correct?

DM: No, “Junk Tape” was just Greg and a very early version of the Wumpus…

SB: Who was smart.

Dan Milano: "We thought right away when we talked about a reality show that would show Warren in rehab, 'Oh, my God, how great would it be if we could get him with Dr. Drew?' And it was almost like, 'Oh, we couldn’t do that, could we?' But all we had to do was ask. He knew the show and liked it and wanted to meet the characters."

DM: Yeah, he was much smarter. And Warren was created for the IFC show because someone on that show needed to satisfy the network requirement for providing trivia about the movies that were being shown, and Greg was too…

SC: Stupid. (Laughs)

DM: …stupid… (Laughs) …and sweet to do it, so Warren was brought on to say, “You just watched ‘Track 29,’” or whatever.

SB: It was a very sober part of his life, I must say. (Laughs)

DM: Yeah, he’d say things like, “That was Mike Leigh’s ‘Naked’!” And then he’d give you trivia facts. But, yeah, Spencer and Sean would make fun of him during the takes, and we would do these great improvs of Warren trying to get through his information.

SC: There’s rare footage of him as a Russian. I don’t know if you remember that.

DM: Yeah! When we were trying different voices.

SB: I don’t think it was until we were doing a parody of “Barton Fink” that we gave him an entire episode.

DM: Yeah, it was the Carter Hotel one!

SB: Yeah, that was the first one. The network asked to see more of him, so we gave him his own episode where he kills himself at the end. (Laughs)

DM: Yeah, that was just us being insolent for no reason. Just arrogant and insolent. They said, “We love this character!” And we said, “Great, we’ll kill him!”

SB: But then in the last shot, during the end credits, we show that he’s had his stomach pumped, claiming bad escargot.

DM: Yes, we saved him.

Warren the Ape

BE: So who can we expect to see on the new show? Will there be guest stars, either human or fabricated Americans?

SB: Yeah, we have a new character by the name of Chauncey the Bear, who’s kind of like a Snuggles-type bear, a cute guy who gets all of the commercials because of his cuteness. He’s a major rival. He’s awesome, and he’s played by Drew Massey, a puppeteer who’s worked with us for awhile. As far as the human cast goes, we are working on getting cameos. So far, we have Billy Crudup. But in one of the early episodes, called “It Girl,” we have a woman by the name of Beau Garrett, she’s going to be starring in the new “Tron,” and she’s also on “Entourage.” She played this It Girl, and she did an amazing job. She’s very funny.

SC: We also have Josh Sussman from “Glee” playing Warren’s assistant, Cecil. Please note that it’s pronounced “Sess-sull,” not “See-sull.” (Laughs)

DM: We’ve got a bunch of puppets, and we’re still working on stuff, but we, uh, have a lot of porn star cameos. (Laughs)

SB: Hey, they’ll work for scale!

BE: (Laughs) Well, funnily enough, I was going to ask you if you were aware that there’s actually a porn called “Celebrity Pornhab with Dr. Screw.”

DM: Oh, my gosh, really? We have to see that…and show it to Dr. Drew! Although I’d guess he’s probably already aware of it.

BE: I’m pretty sure he is. One of his former people from “Sex Rehab” was actually at the premiere of the film.

DM: Oh, my gosh. That’s so great. Uh, yeah, Warren and the aforementioned Chauncey the Bear went to the AVNs last weekend, and we got some Vegas.

SB: Yeah, it was in Vegas. It was wonderful.

BE: So how did Dr. Drew come into the show? I mean, he’s an obvious pick, but did you just casually approach him about it, or what?

DM: We thought right away when we talked about a reality show that would show Warren in rehab, “Oh, my God, how great would it be if we could get him with Dr. Drew?” And it was almost like, “Oh, we couldn’t do that, could we?” But all we had to do was ask. He knew the show and liked it and wanted to meet the characters.

SB: We’ve had a lot of luck in the past with cameos. The same thing happened to us with Jon Favreau. We just sent him a few pages, and…this was for one of the IFC shows, and he thought it was really funny. A lot of actors enjoy working with puppets because it’s, like, one of the few times that they can just play, y’know?

DM: Sometimes you get friends of Eugene Levy’s or people who know Sarah Silverman or Seth Green, and that helps, because they’re, like, “Oh, right, ‘Greg the Bunny,’ I’m friends with Sarah,” or whatever. It gives us common ground because they’ve heard of us.

BE: You know, Sarah’s actually going to be here later today.

DM: Oh, really? That’s awesome. For Comedy Central?

BE: Yeah.

DM: Cool! I love that show!

(Writer’s note: Too bad not enough others did. It was canceled not long after this conversation took place.)

BE: Do you guys have a favorite movie parody that you did?

Warren on his MTV reality series: "My agent told me that beggars can’t be choosers and that final cut was something that was open to the network for branding and creative positioning, blah blah blah. I didn’t realize it was going to be full-on character assassination. I mean, I really do think a lot of the stuff is taken out of context and sort of presented in such a way as to make me look buffoonish."

SB: “2001” is my favorite.

DM: Yeah, that was the episode that got a lot of people to agree to be on the Fox show.

SC: I have to say “The Passion of the Easter Bunny.” It was a combination of “The Passion of the Christ” and “American Movie,” and…yeah, that’s definitely my favorite. I feel like we just got to that point where we nailed it. That was also one of the last episodes for IFC.

DM: I think one of my favorites might be “Daddyhood,” which was a parody of David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” and was probably one of the most faithful, disturbing parodies we ever did.

SC: It was actually a mango, by the way. It was black and white, so you couldn’t tell.

DM: That’s right. A mango, with chocolate chip freckles and some cough syrup. (Laughs)

BE: Awesome. Well, do you think I could close by getting a few words from Warren himself?

DM: I think that could be arranged…

(Writer’s note: for proper suspension of disbelief, let’s pretend that Dan left the room and, moments later, Warren strolled in. FYI, you can see clips from this portion of the interview by clicking here and here.)

BE: Warren, great to meet you in person.

Warren the Ape: Good to see you, buddy. How are ya?

BE: I’m doing good.

WtA: Good stuff, good stuff.

 BE: I’m looking forward to the new series.

WtA: Oh, thanks! Me, too, to be quite honest. I hope they air it. I hope they find the material suitable for air.

BE: Well, let me ask you: do you have a favorite addiction?

WtA: Oh, gosh, there’s so many. It’s, like, how do you pick your favorite? Hmmmmm…narcissism’s good. Just being addicted to me is very intoxicating. But, gosh, I’d have to say it’s probably the ladies. That’s the one thing you can never turn down…and I’ve got the STDs to prove it.

BE: I know you’ve been busy with the addictions, but what’s the status of the “Postcards from the Shitstorm” screenplay?

WtA: Ah, yes, yes, you know your stuff. Well, “Postcards from the Shitstorm” never really took off. Part of the reason was… (Clears throat) …the manuscript was only half-finished, and most of it was written phonetically. There was also something…a residue…on the pages that I think was best left for safety reasons thrown out. And I’m a little behind in my work. It wasn’t quite the opus that I expected it to be. It’s just a bunch of shit-covered pages. The title turned out to be startlingly accurate.

BE: Is there any plans to see Delicious, Delightful, DeMontague reissued on CD?

WtA: Well, you know, it’s funny you say that. I’m trying to have it put on iTunes, because there’s this new thing where people can click on stuff and pay me money to get it, to download it onto whatever they use. The computers and such. So, yeah, I’m trying to get that on iTunes right now.

BE: Excellent.

WtA: It’s viral. It’s like a virus. You catch it.

BE: What are your hopes and expectations for your series?

Warren the ApeWtA: Oh, gosh. Well, I expect that it will be well-received by the public. And I hope that it will have them just buying everything they can with my face on it, because…I’m really here to make your life better through products. You know? Like anybody else, I just want to sell you something. I want to sell you me. Buy a piece, break it off, put it on your shelf. Don’t open it. Keep it in the box.

BE: I’ll be sure to put a link to your Zazzle store within the piece.

WtA: That would be fantastic.

What a difference five months makes. “Warren the Ape” premiered on MTV a few weeks ago, an event which resulted in Warren doing a new round of press, this time without his “entourage” of Milano, Chinoy, and Baker in tow. Unlike our previous conversation, this one was done by telephone, but having been given advance warning of who he’d be speaking to, he made mention of our previous encounter as soon as he came on the line.

WtA: Oh, hey, Will, how are you?

Bullz-Eye: Hey, Warren, good to talk to you again.

WtA: Good to speak to you. Yeah, I think we met at…was it TCA? I was pretty wasted.

BE: It seemed that way. Good to have that confirmation.

WtA: It was just a blur of stuff. I hope I didn’t offend you or anything.

BE: Well, you did, but it was kind of what I expected.

WtA: Then let’s just chalk it up to my shtick, shall we? It’s kind of like when Danny Bonaduce tears up a hotel room: everybody just says, “Oh, isn’t that cute? It’s his thing!”

BE: So I’ve watched the first three episodes of the show. They sent me a screener, and…

WtA: (Sighs) Unbelievable. Well, then, you’ll understand why I’m making a case against the network.

BE: I take it that it has not lived up to your expectations.

WtA: Well, you know, my agent told me that beggars can’t be choosers and that final cut was something that was open to the network for branding and creative positioning, blah blah blah. I didn’t realize it was going to be full-on character assassination. I mean, I really do think a lot of the stuff is taken out of context and sort of presented in such a way as to make me look buffoonish…although I did get a kick out of seeing Greg the Bunny in prison. (Laughs) Ah, that was a good day…

BE: So in this case, “reality” is definitely in quotation marks.

WtA: It’s like all their other reality shows. You have to put them all in quotations. Are you telling me someone’s not there scripting “The Hills” or recutting that stuff? I don’t think they actually have any reality shows that are the least bit realistic. It’s “docu-tainment,” or whatever they want to call it. I’m just the latest in their long line of victims.

BE: Well, with that said, I know that you did audition for “Jersey Shore,” so it would seem that you do have some respect or admiration for the network’s programming.

WtA: (Bursts into laughter) Oh, how funny that you would make that association. No, I just have alimony. My respect for MTV went out the window a lot time ago.

BE: And how is your ex-wife doing, by the way?

WtA: Maggie’s well, thank you. Yes, she’s been watching the show and, you know, she calls me up whenever she sees me on television to find out if there’s wages she can garnish. I was happy to tell her that my deal with MTV grants me no residuals, so she’s out of luck.

BE: From the way you phrased that, I presume that nothing has changed since January and that she still will not be a part of the series.

WtA: No, Maggie is not on the show as such. She’s something I tried to keep a little distance from, because I know she has a tendency to try to come in and take things over. I had the same instinct about Greg, but the network was insistent that I have some interaction with him. But I don’t know what the future will hold…or, indeed, if we will have a future. It will depend both on MTV’s assessment of the show and my litigation with them.

BE: I’ll tackle a few things I’ve seen in the episodes thus far. First, I was wondering how long you’ve worked with your agent, Renee.

WtA: Well, Renee…she’s fairly recent. My previous agent was Pal Friendlies, who’s a fabricated American himself, but we had a bit of a falling out over the fact that he wasn’t getting me any work, so… (Trails off) He’s still in the picture in sort of a managerial respect, but I met Renee around the time that the show was being put together, and she represents a lot of fabricated Americans, little people, animal acts, so she’s sort of a specialty agent. She does a lot of commercials and things like that. Cartoon voiceovers. I’ve found that I’m getting a steady stream of work through her.

Warren the Ape

BE: You brought up fabricated Americans, and I couldn’t help but notice that, in the new series, there’s not as much emphasis on them being different. Has the battle for equality been won at last?

WtA: Oh, God, I think the battle for equality has been given up on. Fabricated Americans still have a very long way to go in this country, and I think it’s always going to be an uphill battle…and I think puppets are the last people that you want to see pushing a boulder uphill. I don’t know, I can only say that our cameras attempt to show them in a real light. If there’s a puppet in the shot, there’s a puppet in the shot. Some of my friends are puppets. Obviously, they’re going to be a part of the show, but at no point have I ever taken a political stance.

BE: Fair enough. In regards to Chauncey the Bear, who appeared in the first episode of the show, I have to say that I always got kind of a “whore” vibe from him even before that.

WtA: (Sighs) You know, everybody loves the guy. He’s got those eyes and that cute little voice…I mean, he reminds me of Greg in that way, but he’s clearly manipulative and has his own agenda. He’ll say just about anything to pull your heartstrings. Look, the guy’s got a huge schlong, and I grant him that. I was actually a little surprised that MTV chose to air that episode first, considering that their lead-in show was also about a kid with a huge schlong. Probably just Freudian on the part of M