Arrivals: Hulu Series Revisits ‘History’
Celebrities line up for sequel to classic Mel Brooks film
History of the World, Part II, the long, long, long-awaited sequel to Mel Brooks’s beloved movie, premieres on Hulu March 6. There are eight episodes detailing, as the title indicates, world history.
Brooks, who is 96, is a writer and executive producer on the series along with Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen. The first four are in the cast, along with a long list of notable actors, including Quinta Brunson, Pamela Adlon, Danny DeVito, David Duchovny, Johnny Knoxville, Kumail Nanjiani, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman.
Brooks’s films include Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs. At the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour last month, Kroll was asked how Brooks’s humor would hold up in 2023.
“Mel’s ultimate goal was always to poke fun at those in power and how greedy and stupid they were,” Kroll responded. “And so doing a show about history, now at a time when we are reexamining how things went down, it became for me a very easy through line to just continue Mel’s legacy of poking fun at those in power. And that really became our guiding light to continue making the show.”
Kroll insisted there’s still a place for racy humor, as long as it’s done right. “I personally think right now in comedy you can still say and do insane things,” he said. “You just have to be a little more thoughtful about how and why you’re saying them.”
Kroll also spoke of the challenge of finding roles for the many, many comic actors who expressed interest in working on the show. He shared about casting Rasputin, “who everybody tried to kill a million times,” and mentioned how Johnny Knoxville texted as soon as the project was announced. “Who else would be better to play Rasputin than Johnny Knoxville?” Kroll said.
Knoxville wasn’t the only one to reach out when History of the World, Part II was announced. “It begins with Mel, people being excited about this, people being excited to work with Mel Brooks in any way they can,” Kroll said. ▪️
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.