Saturday 30 September 2017

Police Academy

Police Academy

The new police recruits. Call them slobs. Call them jerks. Call them gross. Just don’t call them when you’re in trouble.

Studio: Warner Bros. :::::::::: Release Date: March 23rd 1984
Director: Hugh Wilson :::::::::: Starring: Steve Guttenberg
Budget: $4.5M :::::::::: 2015 Equivalent: $10.4M
U.S Box Office: $81.1M :::::::::: 2015 Equivalent: $187.9M

Due to a shortage of police officers, the mayor decides that police academies have to take on any willing recruit - no matter how unsuitable they might be. Carey Mahoney doesn't have much of a choice - go to jail or join the academy. With a rag-tag band of recruits, schooled under the watchful eye of the vindictive Lt.Harris, Mahoney might just have what it takes to become one of the future finest - providing he survives the training!

While much maligned, for a brief period in the 1980s the Police Academy series was incredibly popular with the public. The rise of the R-rated comedy saw studios falling over themselves to find the next Animal House or Porky’s, which had been a smash hit in the summer of 1981. A whole slew of movies came after, all upping the sex and nudity factor in a hope of attracting the biggest cinema-going demographic. Truth be told, other countries had been making these kinds of movies throughout the previous decade, with the Confessions series in England and the Israeli-made Lemon Popsicle proving popular. Police Academy looked set to top them all with its boundary-pushing, 'hard-R' rated script - the only problem was, no one liked it.

The idea for Police Academy came to producer Paul Maslansky while he was on the set of The Right Stuff, acting as a representative of The Ladd Company. He had gotten into movie production almost by accident at a relatively young age. Before graduating from college in the mid-1950s Maslansky set about travelling the world, and wound up in Paris looking to become part of a band (in school he had been a fairly accomplished trumpet player). While in France he met a Danish film student by the name of Benny Corson, who was intrigued by some of Maslansky's musician friends, many of whom were graduates of Fullbright. Corson suggested the idea of making a short documentary about the college and its students. He told Maslansky that he could get a film crew down from Copenhagen to shoot it, all they needed was $1500 to make it. They came up with the idea of pitching the documentary to Fullbright College in Paris, and it was left to Maslansky to make the deal.

To his surprise, the college agreed to buy (what was now titled) Letters From Paris - but only if they liked it. Maslansky raised the money through friends and family. Rather than make things up as they went, the production 'team' sought a writer to give the documentary some structure. Through friend James Baldwin, Maslansky met Melvin Van Peebles, who would later go on to produce cult classic Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. He provided them with the structure they needed but despite all their efforts, Fullbright opted to pass on the finished product, feeling it was more about music than the education. Still, the documentary was entered in the short film competition at Cannes in 1962, as part of the debutant director series. While Corson didn't win first place, the picture did, and thanks to labour issues in American TV and film production at the time, Maslansky was able to sell the picture for $1500. 

A number of other behind the scenes jobs followed, and at one point the still relatively young Maslanksy found himself helping manage second unit on The Long Boats (1964), a Viking picture being made by legendary director of photography, Jack Cardiff. The managing job saw him dealing with 500 extras, boats, horses and various battle props. He would carry out a similar task on Jason and the Argonauts. Now feeling more confident in his abilities and realising that film was where he wanted to work, Maslansky began discussing producing his first proper picture with director Warren Kiefer. At the time, horror movies were popular and even a half-decent one was assured of interest from a studio. Furthermore, they realised that shooting in Europe would offer an abundance of real life sets and backdrops, adding authenticity and greatly reducing the cost of making such things. Made for $120K, Castle of the Living Dead starred Christopher Lee and Donald Sutherland, who made his feature debut in three different roles. The picture marked Maslansky's first feature producing credit and he sold it to American International Pictures, home of Sam Arkoff and Roger Corman.

He stuck with the horror genre for his next producing job, She Beast, which was directed by Michael Reeves. There has been talk that Reeves was the actual director on Castle of the Living Dead, but in actual fact he worked second unit (confirmed by Maslansky in 1994). The director would go on to make the legendary Witchfinder General before dying from an accidental overdose aged only 25. Maslansky then worked two years at United Artists, but was famously fired for leaving his post to travel to Israel with friend (and CBS Reporter) Ike Pappas, to cover what became known as the Yom Kippur war. Despite making the front page of Variety with his termination, when Maslansky returned from Israel, UA wanted him back on their books, but a disastrous meeting in Paris saw him walk away. Over time he would work again with Donald Sutherland on Raw Meat along with acting as executive producer on cult movie, Race with the Devil. More production worked followed, including the Martin Luther King mini-series, King, in 1978, and the true life drama story, Lovechild in 1982. The latter saw studios fighting over the movie rights, only to discover that Maslansky already had them, having secured them via Murray Silver, who he'd met while making King (Silver was an attorney acting for the King Family).

Now working for The Ladd Company, the producer found himself without another picture lined up after production on Lovechild had finished. Alan Ladd Jr. asked him if he'd go out to San Francisco to represent the Ladd Company on the set of The Right Stuff. Arriving early one morning to oversee the shooting of the John Glen tickertape sequence, Maslansky noticed a rag-tag bunch of police officers who were there to act as both crowd control and to feature in the scene. He got talking to the officer who brought down the group and discovered they were actually police cadets from the local academy. When he asked why they were such an unconventional bunch, he discovered that San Francisco had a Fair Employment Policy, meaning the academy had to take on anyone who applied - for at least three weeks, after which they could flunk out those that didn't look to make the grade. This gave Maslansky an idea and that night he went home and wrote a two page treatment about a group of eager but unsuitable people who all wanted to be police officers. 

The next day he pitched the idea to Gareth Wiggin, who was overseeing production on The Right Stuff. He liked the idea, and Maslansky asked him to mention it to Alan Ladd upon his return to California. Ladd too was impressed, and called Maslansky in to see him after work on The Right Stuff was completed. He agreed to finance Police Academy providing it could be made for the right price, which ended up being $4.5M. To turn the treatment into a script, they hired Pat Proft and Neil Israel. Proft was a friend of Maslansky's wife and had written for various comedy shows throughout the 1970s, along with working with Mel Brooks and the Zucker Brothers. Neal Israel had gotten his break working on Tunnel Vision, a show which brought Chevy Chase and John Candy to prominence. The duo set to work, using the treatment as their guideline, but the script that came back a few months later was a lot more explicit than anyone expected. Alan Ladd wasn't impressed, and even though they'd begun to shop the script around in hope of finding a director, Paul Maslansky figured the project was done with before it had even got going. 

It came as something of a surprise when he received a call one Friday from talent agency APA, who had an agent who wanted to discuss the Police Academy script. The agent informed Maslansky that he had a client by the name of Hugh Wilson, who'd seen the script on the agent's desk and wanted to discuss it with him. The producer had never heard of the guy but agreed to take his call at home that evening. Wilson revealed that he didn't like the script but it had funny moments and the central premise was sound. He then revealed he was the creator of the hit sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. If Maslansky would give him the weekend, he'd rewrite the script. True to his word, by Monday morning, Wilson had completed a major revision which would turn out to be the exact movie they shot. Unbeknownst to all, Wilson was actually looking to get into directing by way of re-working low budget comedy scripts. Thanks to his efforts, he was able to cut a deal to direct Police Academy, as well as being credited for his writing work on it (Israel and Proft would still receive a story credit and shared the screenplay one with Wilson).

With a relatively low budget of $4.5M attached, both producer and director knew they wouldn't be able to afford any of the major comedy stars of the time. They turned to the casting team of Pamela Basker and Fern Champion to help fill out their cast of misfits and authority figures. Despite being an ensemble picture, the character of Carey Mahoney was essentially the lead, a role that ended up going to Steve Guttenberg. The young actor had an uncredited role in the disaster film Rollercoaster, followed by parts in The Chicken Chronicles, Players and The Boys from Brazil. His role in the Village People movie, Can't Stop the Music almost ended his career, being an unmitigated critical and financial disaster (though it has since gained a cult following, especially in Australia, where it is shown every New Year’s Eve). It was his part in Barry Levinson's comedy drama Diner that brought the actor to prominence. He arrived at the Police Academy audition in his father's old police shirt with a bit of an attitude - which the assembled group felt was perfect for Mahoney. 

For the role of the bumbling Commandant Lassard they chose George Gaynes, an actor of some repute who had been in the game since the early 1940s. First gaining recognition on Broadway, the actor switched to movies and TV in the 1960s. Besides acting, he had also studied and performed opera and could speak seven different languages. Gaynes was already known to Hugh Wilson, having directed the final episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. Marion Ramsey, who would play the timid cadet Hooks, was performing in a production of Little Shop of Horrors when she got the call to audition. Although Ramsey had a powerful singing voice, the night before she had met Michael Jackson, and used his voice as the inspiration for the character. Wilson and Maslansky were instantly taken with it, and she skipped the audition process and went straight to a costumed screen test. 

In the role of Mahoney's antagonist, Lt. Harris, G.W Bailey was cast. Another veteran of stage and TV screen, Bailey didn't actually make his film debut until 1979 in the Chuck Norris actioner, A Force of One. At around the same time, he was making his name in M.A.S.H, playing the recurring role of Luther Rizzo. As the no-nonsense Sergeant Callahan, Leslie Easterbrook was chosen after giving a very frightening audition. She later revealed that her husband was a very intimidating man and that she'd spent the previous two days practicing with him to be as threatening as possible. However, after the audition was over, Easterbrook was fearful she'd come on too strong, but the assembled casting team loved her performance (even if they were a little frightened). Celebrated Football star-turned actor, Bubba Smith took on the role of Hightower. A formidable giant of a man, Smith had taken up acting upon his retirement from professional football, with small roles in various TV shows and movies. During the audition, Maslansky explained there was little money in the role but Smith didn't care, he was happy to be involved in the project.

David Graf, who would play the mildly disturbed-weapon obsessed Tackleberry attended his audition in full camouflage, while Donovan Scott (Cadet Leslie Barbara) strolled into the room, did a flip and landed straight on his back. Both won their respective roles. Kim Cattrall was another who had been acting for a number of years prior to Police Academy, and had recently gained some notoriety for her part as Miss Honeywell in Porkys. She took on the character of rich girl turned cadet, Karen Thompson. The remainder of the cast were made up by Bruce Mahler (Fackler) and Andrew Rubin (George Martin), alongside Scott Thomson and Brant Van Hoffman, who played Copeland and Blankes, two cadets who Lt. Harris recruits to intimidate the others into quitting.

One final addition to the cast was Michael Winslow. Paul Maslansky got word of a comic who was opening for Count Basie, and was advised to go and see the show. When Winslow came onto the stage, the sound system malfunctioned and he ended up borrowing a loud hailer from a fire marshal. His act, a combination of stand up and incredible sound effects, which Winslow himself generated, impressed the producer to such a degree that he and Wilson set about writing Winslow into the script. Before that time, the character of Larvell Jones didn't exist. He would go on to be the most memorable player in the series. 

The film shot in Toronto during the summer of 1983, with a disused psychiatric hospital standing in for the Police Academy. Hugh Wilson, coming from TV, had to adjust to shooting for film but didn't let it slow him down, often needing only a couple of takes for each scene - at least when the cast weren't cracking up. Restrictions caused by the budget also meant there wasn't the money for multiple set ups. He also encouraged the actors to improvise and often asked them prior to shooting a scene 'what they had for him'. There were few issues during the forty day shoot, but one problem did occur thanks to the way filming had been scheduled. In a memorable scene, cadets Copeland and Blankes, thinking the police academy has the same strict rules as the military, get their heads shaved - something they did for real. It was only after the scene was shot did the production crew realise that the actors were yet to film their arrival at the academy. When it came time for that part to be shot, the actors had to wear ill-fitting wigs to cover their shaven heads. 

Even with the budget restrictions, there were at least two moments that needed multiple takes after the cast (and crew) couldn't stop laughing. The 'fight' in the dinner hall, in which Barbara hits Blankes square in the face with a metal tray was repeated so many times that the mild-mannered Hugh Wilson began to lose patience with the actors. Another sequence which saw Tackleberry urge Cadet Barbara to hit him was shot so many times that David Graf's cheek was bright red for some time after. The picture also got an unplanned director cameo after the man they hired to play the bit part 'angry man in car' was found passed out drunk in his trailer. Given they were shooting at night and had no back up, Wilson stepped in, though most of his short scene ended up on the cutting room floor (Maslansky didn't make it into the picture, though he did get his name on the side of a van featured in a chase scene). The sound crew also got a rude awakening thanks to Marion Ramsey. Having had to turn up their recording equipment to catch all of her timid Michael Jackson voice, they were deafened during her single loud outburst in the film's final moments. 

Steve Guttenberg's dresser helped out with the hilarious Blue Oyster Club sequences, rounding up over two hundred guys who all had their own leather outfits. To add an air of authenticity, the two men who danced with Blankes and Copeland were qualified ballroom dancers. They also hired a professional for what is arguably the film's most (in) famous moment - Lassard's podium speech. Georgina Spelvin, an adult film star who'd gained fame for her role in Devil in Miss Jones, took on the part of the hooker hired to get Mahoney thrown out of the academy. Spelvin was originally scheduled to appear in one sequence, but that would change after the film's first test screening. 

While the initial edit was being assembled, Robert Folk was hired to compose what would become Police Academy's memorable theme tune. A release date of 23rd March 1984 was put in place, and while Maslansky and Wilson were happy with the movie, they had no real idea how it would play to the public. It contained little in the way of profanity, and its few scant moments of nudity paled when compared to Porky’s and its ilk. A test screening was scheduled at Preview House, with Alan Ladd, Maslansky and Wilson all present. From the get-go, the crowd loved it, and the dial setup used to measure the film's approval with an audience was off the chart, barely dipping through the entire run time. 

As the last scene played out and the assembled crew were about to pat each other on the back, they noticed the approval dial had dropped down by a fair amount. It wasn't in the 'don't like' band, but it was significant enough to give them cause for concern. They needed the audience to leave on a high and that wasn't happening. Alan Ladd spoke up first, telling Maslansky and Wilson to go home and think about how they could fix the ending. They met up the following morning, yet before they could even sit down, Ladd announced he'd cracked it. He reasoned that the picture had one huge laugh - the podium scene, and that they should reprise that in the closing moments, but with an added twist. An extra scene was shot for the end which played brilliantly with a new test audience. While the technical aspects were finished off and a trailer put together, Maslansky left for London to oversee production on Return to Oz. 

The film received middling reviews with critics, though they would prove to be the best of the series. Roger Ebert awarded Police Academy zero stars but noted New York Times critic Vincent Canby gave it a favourable notice. Ebert wasn't the only one who was unimpressed by what he had seen. During a 'Making Of' feature to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Steve Guttenberg revealed that after his agent saw the finished movie, he rushed over and told the actor that he would quickly secure him work on a TV show, as he was unlikely to work in pictures again. 

Opening in a quieter part of the year and with little hype, expectations for Police Academy weren't high. However, it would have little in the way of competition save for the Tom Hanks romantic comedy, Splash, which would be in its third weekend of release. Maslansky had a lot riding on its success, and even though he'd produced a number of pictures, he'd never had a hit. It would be a tense weekend while he waited to receive word of how the film had done, made tougher by the time difference between California and London (where, as mentioned, he was over seeing Return to Oz). Unbeknownst to Maslansky, Alan Ladd had already previewed the film in 300 theatres in the previous week, to great success. 

Unable to sit and wait, the producer and Matt Clark, who was acting in Return to Oz, went on a pub crawl. When they returned he asked his wife if they'd had a call about the weekend numbers. She said they had, and it was 'eight something'. Maslansky knew it couldn't be anything as ridiculous as $80M, and began to panic when he realise it must have been $800K. He nervously called Alan Ladd to hear the worst, only to be told the picture was estimated to make $8.2M that weekend, one of the biggest spring openings for a Warner Bros release. The producer later joked in an interview with Jog Road Productions, that that weekend had essentially built his house.

Police Academy opened in first place with an impressive $8.5M, recouping its $4.5M budget by that first Saturday afternoon. And this was against strong competition from Splash which had earned another $6.6M. A week on and the film was still firmly at the top, dipping just 6% on the previous weekend's takings, neither Greystoke nor Romancing the Stone giving it much trouble. In only ten days it had earnt back its budget nearly four times over, and it was just getting started. Another small drop in the following weekend kept the film at number one as it crossed the $30M mark. R-rated competition showed up the next frame in the guise of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and the comedy slipped down to second. Yet a week later, it was back at the top, and stayed there for the next fortnight. By the time Breakin' took the top spot in the first weekend of May, Police Academy had made almost $60M. 

In total the movie remained in the top ten for an incredible thirteen weeks, making $81.1M and becoming the sixth most successful picture of 1984. It is worth noting that that year contained some of the biggest releases of the 1980s, including Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Overseas figures were equally impressive, adding a further $65M to its coffers. It was also a smash hit on video, becoming one of the most popular rentals of 1984 and '85. With such success, it wasn't long before Warner Brothers began looking for a sequel - and fast. 

A year later, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment was unleashed into theatres. Maslansky returned to produce but Hugh Wilson was replaced by Jerry Paris. The majority of the cast reprised their roles, with the notable exceptions of Kim Cattrall, Leslie Easterbrook and Donovan Scott. New additions would include comedian Bobcat Goldthwait as gang leader Zed, Tim Kazurinsky as timid shopkeeper Carl Sweetchuck, and Art Metrano as Lieutenant Mauser in what was essentially the Lt. Harris role (G.W Bailey has a blink and you’ll miss him cameo in the wedding scene). There were some issues over the amount of screen time given to the new cast members and production was actually shutdown for a day or so while a mediator was brought in. This time around the newly qualified recruits are sent to the worst precinct in the city in an effort to help Commandant Lassard's brother clean it up. Lt. Mauser does everything he can to stop them, knowing if they fail he'll become the new captain. Reviews were much worse, and even critics who were fans of the original struggled to find something to like. The public however, were willing to give Mahoney and Co. another chance. The picture opened to $10M, remained in the top ten for eleven weeks and finished up with $55M in takings. It also did a further $27M on video. 

Police Academy 3: Back in Training was released less than a year later, and marked the series' switch to the PG rating. Leslie Easterbrook returned to the series, as did Brant Van Hoffman and Scott Thomson. Bobcat Goldthwait and Tim Kazurinsky became series regulars (and new academy recruits) while Art Metrano returned as Mauser (now commandant of a rival academy). The plot would see the gang return to save Lassard's academy when the state announces it can only afford to fund one of them. Mauser does his best to ensure his is the one chosen to remain open- by fair means or foul. A number of jokes were reprised from the first movie, including a sequence at the Blue Oyster Bar and a cameo from Georgina Spelvin's hooker. As before, critics hated the movie but the public were still happy to see the gang back - though not in quite so larger numbers. Police Academy 3 made $43M through out its theatrical run, with an opening weekend take of $9M. 

Given the low budget costs involved, the studio didn't mind that the sequels weren't as successful as the first movie (or the previous one). April 1987 saw the release of Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. The film would mark Steve Guttenberg's final appearance in the series. Along with the cast of regulars, G W Bailey returned as Harris. Newcomers included Sharon Stone and a young David Spade - whose stunt double was played by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk (who ended up getting fired for being too tall and unable to hide his face from the camera). This time around Lassard comes up with the idea of recruiting ordinary members of the public to be part of his Citizen on Patrol program. Now four films in, the series was beginning to struggle even with fans. While it opened to an OK $8M, it ended up making just $28M in total. 

With Guttenberg choosing to work on Three Men and a Baby, a new lead was required for Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach. Newcomer Matt McCoy got the job of Nick Lassard, the commandant’s nephew. While much of the cast returned, Bobcat Goldthwait and Tim Kazurinsky were absent (in truth, when Goldthwait couldn’t work out a deal with the studio he opted not to return. The producers figured that without Zed there was little point in having Sweetchuck in the movie, so Kazurinsky was also dropped). Despite debuting at no.1, the film struggled and didn't surpass $20M in North America. 

Warner Brothers and Maslansky pressed on with another sequel a year later. The original idea was to relocate the action to London, and the producers approached Ben Elton and Richard Curtis (of Blackadder fame) to provide a script. The duo passed on The London Beat and the action moved back the United States. Police Academy 6: City Under Siege saw Matt McCoy return as Nick Lassard, but it marked the final appearances for Bubba Smith and Marion Ramsey. However, Bruce Mahler, who played Fackler, did return after a two picture absence. Critics had long since given up on the series and with a paltry box office total of $11.5M it seemed the public finally had too. It would be five years before another Police Academy movie was produced.

In 1988, the year the fifth movie was released, an animated TV show was produced. It featured many of the same characters along with some new recruits (and protagonists), as well as a canine division. None of the original cast voiced their characters. It ran for two seasons and spawned a set of action figures and vehicles. Marvel also released a short-lived comic book tie-in. In 1990 came rumours of a video game adaptation for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Sreenshots appeared in a number of magazines of the time but the game (or games, there were said to be two different versions) was never released. 

The series lay dormant until 1994 and the release of Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow. Only five of the original cast returned for the picture - George Gaynes, Michael Winslow, David Graf, G.W Bailey and Leslie Easterbrook (the former three appearing in all seven movies). Christopher Lee played a Russian commandant who calls in his old friend Lassard when he needs help dealing with mafia boss Ron Perlman. Also appearing in what was only her second feature was Clare Forlani, who would go on to star in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats and opposite Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black. 

In actual fact, G.W Bailey’s Harris wasn’t in the original script and was hastily added after Bubba Smith dropped out, an incident caused by the producer’s reluctance to give Marion Ramsey a part. Police Academy 7 actually shot some sequences in Russia, and the cast and crew found themselves in the middle of a violent coup. Plans were made to move production to Budapest but after a few days the incident had been contained and filming could continue. Director Alan Metter disowned the movie after Maslansky insisted on more slapstick comedy (over the cultural difference-based humour Metter preferred). In the end it was all for naught - Warner Brothers barely released the film and it earnt $126K. 

That was the end for Police Academy - as far as movies went. In 1997 Police Academy: The Series hit the small screen. It ran for one season, comprised of 26 hour long episodes. Only Michael Winslow would return as a regular, though David Graf and Leslie Easterbrook both appeared in single episodes, as did Tim Kazurinsky and Art Metrano - oddly playing different characters to the ones they'd portrayed in the movie series. In terms of the Police Academy franchise, only Michael Winslow has appeared in every film and live action TV show episode. 

Of the principle cast, Steve Guttenberg and Kim Cattrall enjoyed the biggest success outside of the series – at least initially. Guttenberg appeared in the 1985 comedy drama Cocoon, Short Circuit in 1986 and the smash hit Three Men and a Baby, which ended up being the biggest film of 1987. The sequel released three years later was another success, though not on the same scale as the original. Guttenberg was largely absent from screens after that, appearing in just a handful of smaller movies over the next five years. In the 2000s he turned his hand to directing with P.S Your Cat is Dead! and appeared in a recurring role on the TV show Veronica Mars. Since that time he’s appeared in a number of low budget movies, preferring to spend time concentrating on his charity work. Post-Police Academy Kim Cattrall appeared in Mannequin and Big Trouble in Little China, amongst other works, but it is her role as Samantha Jones in Sex & the City for which she will be forever known. 

David Graf worked extensively in all manner of TV and movie roles, including Lois & Clark, Malcolm in the Middle and The West Wing. He died of a heart attack aged only 50 years old – both his father and grandfather had suffered the same fate at roughly the same age. Similarly, Bubba Smith worked steadily through out the 1990s, making one-off appearances in various shows. He died in 2011 from heart disease and drug intoxication. After his one and only appearance in the series, Donovan Scott appeared in the short-lived Lucille Ball sitcom, Life with Lucy. Various roles followed, and since the year 2000 he’s specialised in playing Santa Claus, appearing as the character (or a relation) in more than ten different shows and films. 

As well as playing Commandant Lassard, George Gaynes appeared in the mid-80s sitcom Punky Brewster, which ran for over eighty episodes. He won positive notices for his work in Vanya on 42nd Street and was one of the few cast members to cameo on the Police Academy series. He retired from acting in 2003 at the age of eighty six, and passed away in February 2016. G.W Bailey, who appeared opposite Kim Cattrall in Mannequin and Steve Guttenberg in Short Circuit found success in TNT’s Bible series, featuring in three different stories. He became a series regular on The Closer, in which he appeared in 108 episodes, and the show’s spin off, Major Crimes. Bailey is also noted for his extensive charity work with the Sunshine Kids Foundation. 

Outside of the Police Academy series, Marion Ramsey did little film or TV work, though she did reprise her character for an episode of Robot Chicken. In contrast, Leslie Easterbrook worked consistently through out the 1990s and beyond, in TV, Film and voice over roles. She took over the role of Mother Firefly in Rob Zombie’s The Devil Rejects when Karen Black dropped out. Easterbrook continues to work apace, already amassing over ten different roles in 2015. Finally, Michael Winslow, who was there from the first movie to the last TV show, continued to perform in all manner of roles, both as characters and himself. Since 2008 he has hosted the cable TV show, Way Back Wednesday with Winslow, and tours his stand up routine globally. In something of a mini-reunion, Winslow, along with Steve Guttenberg, Marion Ramsey and Leslie Easterbrook all appeared in the 2015 disaster movie, Lavalantula. 

Over the years there have been many, many attempts at getting a new sequel or even a remake off the ground. In 2003 Maslansky announced plans to make an eighth movie after seeing the success of Starsky and Hutch. Most of the cast were said to be interested in returning, as was Hugh Wilson, but the plans were shelved in 2006. Two years later Winslow confirmed his interest to return and Steve Guttenberg told the BBC’s Simon Mayo that he was working on a script with Warner Bros, with a plan to direct. 

In 2010, the film was still in development with a new script being produced by David Diamond and David Weissman. That same year Bobcat Goldthwait, now a director, issued a statement that Hollywood should reboot the series and confirmed that Guttenberg would return, and that the studio were hoping to secure Kim Cattrall and Sharon Stone too. In 2012 Michael Winslow revealed that Shaquille O’Neal had been approached to replace Hightower in the eighth movie and that Jeremy Garelick (who co-wrote The Break Up) had been hired to write the script. At the time of writing there have been no further entries produced but that all looks set to change in the near future. In April 2014 it was announced that acclaimed sketch show artists Key & Peele had been hired to co-produce a new movie with Paul Maslansky. Further news came in July 2015 when the duo confirmed that their sketch series would be coming to end after the current series and that Police Academy was their next project. 

Although much of the good will earnt by the first picture was squandered by its sequels, it remains one of the most successful comedy films of the 1980s.The original movie is by far the best of the series and musters some genuine laughs. Relatively tame by today’s standards, it still has one or two risqué set pieces, and its ability to build on early jokes often pays off. While it may not have had the hard edge of 48 Hrs or the wit of Ghostbusters, Police Academy remains an enjoyable slice of 1980s comedy.

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