In the mid-1990s British television documentary producer Waldemar Januszczak nearly got a show to the approval stage at Channel 4 that sounds absolutely dynamite on paper: an inebriated rock and roll talk show with legendary Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan acting as host. Even more enticing, the pilot featured Johnny Depp and Traci Lords as guests, and Los Lobos even perform a ditty.
What could be better? The show was to be called A Drink with Shane MacGowan, also incidentally the title of his memoir.
Below you can watch the unaired pilot in full. This episode was filmed at Depp’s favored Sunset Strip hangout the Viper Room—he was part owner—where River Phoenix met his untimely demise in 1993. The show is highly reminiscent of Jon Favreau’s more successful IFC show Dinner for Five. The reasons that A Drink with Shane MacGowan was never picked up are achingly apparent. Without meaning any disrespect to the man, who is after all one of the most vital and authentic rockers of the 1970s and 1980s, but it would be difficult to imagine a person less suited to the art of TV interviewing than MacGowan.
Beyond that, how shall I say, the collective IQ in the room ain’t none too high, and the evident intake of alcohol doesn’t improve matters. The discussion of censorship and violence in movies is replete with cliché. Crime novelist Joe Gores, author of Hammett, is probably the most articulate person in the room.
Chris Penn doesn’t think much of John Woo, Traci Lords walked out of Natural Born Killers, and Shane MacGowan’s opinion of Sam Peckinpah is succinct (“He’s dead!”).
Here’s what The Star wrote about the show at the time. MacGowan’s given age in the article and a few other references from the program (Depp says he’s filming Nick of Time) situate this show at around 1995.
WILD MAN of rock, Shane MacGowan, is set to shock telly audiences with a boozy, X-rated chat show.
The former Pogues idol, who has been repeatedly hospitalised after wild drinking bouts, has recorded a pilot for the new Channel 4 series called “A Drink With Shane MacGowan”.
According to an insider: “Viewers can expect an orgy and bad taste gags, as the guests are let loose on the free-flowing alcohol.” Top stars, including actors Johnny Depp and Nicolas Cage, plus pop figureheads Bono and Sinéad O’Connor have already been invited to appear.
On the show, Shane (37) encourages his guests to misbehave for the cameras as the drink flows. And there’s a flood of four-letter words. The insider adds: “Shane goes out of his way to cause an upset. Late night TV hasn’t seen anything quite like it. The stars are invited to drink as much as they like it as the conversation flows. We’re not sure whether the bad language will be bleeped out, but it’s certainly bound to cause raised eyebrow among concerned parents.”
Bono! Nicolas Cage! Sinéad O’Connor! Four-letter words! So enticing.
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