America has long been described as a melting pot, a country filled with people from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs. To this day, people from all over the world come to the United States to seek a better life for themselves, their families and their friends. Yet, the goal of co-existing with people from different cultures and customs remains as difficult as ever. The new comedy web series THE MELTDOWN POT takes a hilarious look at the awkward and often uncomfortable moments that can happen when different cultures and beliefs clash.
Created by Arthur McClen and series co-star Guile Branco of BrightKnight Entertainment, THE MELTDOWN POT premiered its first season of eight episodes last year on Blip.TV. It stars David Imani as Ali Nabi, a Middle Eastern (Muslim) American whose life is suddenly turned upside down after his family-owned business goes under, thus forcing him to become a stay at home dad to his three kids while his wife, Michelle (Debra Mayer) is at work – a task that comes much to his frustration.
Further complicating matters is Ali’s neighbor, Rabbi Alfred Murray (David Marc), a man who prides himself on his beliefs – and the fact that aside from a speeding ticket he once got for going three miles an hour, he hasn’t done a thing wrong in his life. Unfortunately for Alfred, his almost spotless record could be at risk when porn star Porfirio Rubirosa Manuel “Javier” Perez de la Mesa, the 7th (played by Guile Branco) comes to town, immediately becoming the object of his affection. Finally, there’s gay dwarf Nicholas (Pancho Moler), owner of a male modeling agency in Beverly Hills – and a man who thinks that out of all the guys who enter its doors, he’s the sexiest. A crowd funding campaign for the show’s second season is already in the works, and McClen hopes that if it’s successful, THE MELTDOWN POT will soon make its way onto TV, as well.
For McClen, the catalyst in the overall development of THE MELTDOWN POT was when a close friend, an Afghan (Muslim) American, found himself having to take care of three of his kids after he lost his job (which served as the model for the Ali character). “A talent agent asked me if I could write a comedy script out of a treatment she had. I had never written a comedy but took the challenge. Her partner rejected a lot of my scenes and ideas. So, I asked my friend, Guile Branco, if he wanted to write a script out of the rejected ‘crap’, – he said yes, but Guile is an actor and said he always wanted to play a porn star, so the character Javier ‘The Porn Star’ was born! This was the most fun I had ever had writing a script,” he recalls.
Getting THE MELTDOWN POT on the page was the easy part. Bringing it to the screen, though, was harder than expected. “Timothy Lonsdale, an assistant director/unit production manager for shows like Ghost Whisper and Charmed made a budget for our 22 minute pilot (web series). It was budgeted at 2.7 million dollars. So we had a fund-raiser. The problem was only our broke filmmaking friends showed up and we only raised two hundred dollars — just a bit shy. So it looked like THE MELTDOWN POT was dead. I was a limo driver in LA and my wife was out of work taking care of my mother who was on hospice. So we were really broke,” McClen says.
While McClen and Branco decided to retool the series as a short film, they would soon get some much needed help from their friends. “Guile and I decided to shoot a short, but thanks to our talented group of friends, we were able to create a cast and crew of 60 people for a 9 day shoot. Our entire web series was shot for only nine hundred dollars. We screened The Meltdown Pot at Paramount Studios to over 400 people and have received tremendous reviews,” says McClen, who also recalls that many of those rave reviews have come from some very influential industry figures.
“Right before Patton Valentine moved to and became the Vice President of Davis Entertainment, we screened THE MELTDOWN POT web series at Lionsgate Television and he said, ‘Amazing job! This would be perfect for the major networks.” McClen also quotes Mark Gross, supervising producer of the popular CBS sitcom MIKE AND MOLLY, who concurred: “First off, congratulations, it’s a huge accomplishment to make a pilot, especially one of this quality. I like the concept of these culturally different characters intertwined, it’s refreshing and original for sure.”
Described as TWO AND A HALF MEN meets MODERN FAMILY, THE MELTDOWN POT is a comedy that pokes fun at the often complicated nature of people, their differences, and how Americans try to overcome them. It’s a show that through its characters and situations provides viewers with not only laughs, but also a chance to discover that no matter how different we all are, and no matter how big our goals and dreams are, we’re still a part of the same great melting pot that is America. “Our ultimate goal is to do this (to make the show) and make people laugh when cultures collide,” McClen says.