Many writers crave voluminous space in which to relate their stories. (That’s right, Marcel Proust, we’re looking at you.) But Cory Edwards has restricted himself to 140 characters or less for each ‘chapter’ of his new project, Roger Cosmonkey, a cartoon about a super intelligent ape that Edwards is touting as the world’s “first episodic Twitter series” that launches today on his Twitter feed.
“I happened to tweet artwork that I had drawn,” says Edwards, who co-directed and co-wrote the 2005 animated film Hoodwinked! “I thought, ‘Gosh, has anybody ever told a story in this very limited format?’ And I don’t think anybody has. At first I thought, ‘I don’t even know if it’s possible.’ And I think I’ve found out that it is. I don’t know that Martin Scorsese or Peter Jackson would want to tell a story on Twitter. But the guys who do Spongebob or Ren & Stimpy — they might. So I’ve created something that is kind of in that vein, something that can work in short bursts.”
After the jump, Edwards talks more about Roger Cosmonkey and the status of his long-gestating Fraggle Rock movie.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what exactly is this “Twitter” of which you speak?
CORY EDWARDS: The Twitter! I used to think Twitter was just one more stupid thing. I maintain my blog for longer form contact with people who are interested in what I do. But I only update that once every one or two weeks. For 20 years I’ve done stand-up comedy and this is a new outlet for me for when I see something funny. Twitter to me is this immediate little tin can on a string. I’ve gone from rolling my eyes at it to really embracing it. Writing Roger Cosmonkey, I was excited because I might be the first to do this, but I was also excited by the limitations and the challenges.
Tell us about Roger Cosmonkey.
He’s a bad little monkey. He was shot into space back in 1968 by NASA and he and a few other animals were sucked through a space-time rift — as often happens in science fiction —and they had years of adventures out in deep space. Apparently Roger was upgraded and he’s now a hyper intelligent monkey. He’s come back in 2011 and he’s really p—ed off. He sued the U.S. government for millions and millions of dollars for sending him into space against his will and now he lives in a pimped-out mansion in the Hollywood Hills. He’s a multi-millionaire with time on his hands. He’s kind of morally vacuous and that’s what makes him interesting to me. He’ll do and say all the bad things that we all wish we could.
Do you hope Roger will have a future beyond the Twitterverse? After all, one of the good things about Twitter is that it’s such a short format even studio executives might read it.
[Laughs] Right. It’s great for short attention spans and Hollywood is full of those. This is an industry that makes 90-minute product but I have yet to find anyone with a 90-minute attention span in any meeting. I think he could be a movie. I think he could be many things. But Twitter seemed ideally suited for him because he’s this loud, splashy, cartoon-ish, character that you can get pretty quickly. The other good thing is, this was something that I could immediately do with no one’s permission. I’m the actor, I’m the writer, I’m the stuntman. My distribution system is my phone! It was really liberating to do something very small and very focused. I am working very hard to develop a lot of monstrously big ideas for feature films that take a lot of people and a lot of meetings and a lot of money. This was something that I could immediately do with no one’s permission.
Talking about working hard to develop monstrously big ideas for feature films, what’s the situation with the Fraggle Rock movie you were writing for the Weinstein Company ?
Well, I had heard for months now that it’s all but dead. But I have heard recently that it’s not even with the Weinstein Company anymore. They’ve let that option go. Which means that it’s up to the Jim Henson Company, what they want to do with it. My deal was with the Weinstein Company, so we’ll see if anybody wants to make a deal with me to direct again. I wrote a script that the Weinstein Company owns, so in a way I’m disappointed that that project didn’t happen. But as I’ve said on my blog, I think we all need to remember that it’s also good that a bad move didn’t happen. If the elements weren’t right, and the studio wasn’t onboard with my vision, then I’m happy that it didn’t go forward, because it could have been a disaster and fans would have been angry. So my answer is that it’s in a deep, deep coma and it sounds like it’s up to the Jim Henson Company how they want to proceed. I know they like me and I love the Fraggles, so we’ll see.
Is it possible they will now wait to see how Jason Segel’s Muppet movie performs?
Absolutely. Yeah, I’m curious to see how it does. And I’m sure that if it does well, that could mean a lot of things for the Fraggle Rock movie. I think, ironically, Fraggle Rock as a brand is more suited for a feature film story than the Muppets. It comes with its own world, it’s own mythology. Whereas Kermit and Miss Piggy and Fozzie are kind of day players that you could put into any concept.
What else are you working on?
I’m pitching and developing a lot of things at once. I’m writing a young adult adventure novel.
I hear they’re quite popular these days.
Right. [Laughs] But that was a character that I thought, “Well, what is the best venue for this? It could be a movie, but this needs to be a book first.” It’s interesting. I believe that it is truly a transmedia world. Everybody is interested in more than the feature. Any comic book or any web series or any board game has to know that it’s going to be considered as a feature, as a television series. It’s all ping-ponging back and forth. I believe that any small media format now is a seedling that can grow into the next format. That’s exciting, because I’m all about creating characters and stories. I’m really not about any particular distribution system or storytelling medium. For Roger Cosmonkey, I think being on everyone’s phones is really direct and intimate and something Roger would really like. If he could cold call people, he would!