How Donald Trump Almost Ended Up Suing ‘Sharknado’

The president was supposed to play the commander-in-chief in 'Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!'

August 3, 2017 11:12 am

Months before he decided to run for president, Donald Trump was all set to play commander-in-chief in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! 

Their first choice was Sarah Palin, but negotiations with the former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee had fallen through, so Ian Ziering, star of the Syfy franchise, thought of Trump, who he had met while taping Celebrity Apprentice. Hollywood Reporter writes that Trump responded yes almost immediately.

Gerald Webb, an actor and casting director who worked on the first three films, says that they got into serious talks with Trump about coming on the show. A contract was drawn up and sent to Trump’s attorney Michael D. Cohen (Hollywood Reporter notes he is the same attorney currently under investigation in connection with the Russia inquiry).

But then there was silence on Trump’s end, David Latt, the 51-year-old co-founder of The Asylum, the off-brand assembly line behind the Sharknado series, recalls. Cohen reached out to say that Trump was legitimately thinking of running for president, and so now might not be the best time.

But production time was ticking, so Asylum went to plan B, and offered the role to Mark Cuban, which was trumpeted with a press release. Latt says that they immediately heard from Trump’s lawyers.

“He basically said, ‘How dare you? Donald wanted to do this,” recalled Latt to the Hollywood Reporter. We’re going to sue you! We’re going to shut the entire show down!’”

Hollywood Reporter asked Cohen about this — he acknowledged a dinner with Ziering to discuss casting Trump but no recollection of the angry exchange.

Webb now runs his own production company and now has a positive view of the interaction.

“I took it personally, but I get it now,” he said to Hollywood Reporter. “That was my moment of doing business with Donald Trump. And that’s Sharknado.”

The Sharknado franchise, consisting of five films, is known for its thousands of familiar faces. There are more than 80 celebrity appearances in Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, which airs on Syfy on Aug. 6.


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