Like both of its namesake nouns, the Sharknado franchise is indiscriminate in its appetites, devouring cameos and guest stars with undisguised, buzz-craving hunger. These range from the relatively benign—hey there, Steve Guttenberg—to the absolutely disastrous (like when the franchise had to race to chop Jared Fogle out of the third movie, shortly after he was arrested on child pornography charges). Today, The Hollywood Reporter has an in-depth look at the show’s ravenous casting process, including the revelation that franchise star Tara Reid gets paid roughly a quarter of what Ian Ziering gets, and the intricacies of producers’ failed attempt to get Donald Trump on board to play the series’ fictional president.
The Reid pay disparity apparently dates back to the first movie, when the film’s creative team had to throw a bunch of money at Ziering to sign on to star. (It was a more innocent age then, when people assumed appearing in a movie called “Sharknado” was career suicide, and not a cheat code for briefly resurgent internet fame.) When Reid brought the wage gap up to the series’ producers, they threatened to smash her character, April, with space ship debris, inviting fans to vote on whether she lived or died. (This, despite the fact that Reid was one of the first known names to lend her celebrity to the producers’ cause.) This is what’s known as a relatively “hard” stance in the contract negotiation world.
Meanwhile, Trump—who shares a part-time job as a living testament to the dangers of irony overdose with the Sharknado movies themselves—was in “serious talks” to appear as the President Of The United States in 2015’s Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! Initially suggested by Ziering, a former Celebrity Apprentice contestant, the offer fell through when America’s own political Sharknado got serious about his real-world presidential run. The film’s producers promptly replaced him with business rival Mark Cuban, a move that supposedly pissed The Donald off but good. “Then we immediately heard from Trump’s lawyer,” said Dave Latt, founder of The Asylum. “He basically said, ‘How dare you? Donald wanted to do this. We’re going to sue you! We’re going to shut the entire show down!’” Luckily, he didn’t, and nothing bad ever again happened in regards to the idea of Donald Trump playing president.
Sharknado 5: Global Swarming—which features the tagline “Make America Bait Again”—airs this Sunday, August 6 on Syfy.