We sat down with “All That” master producer-writer-director Dan Schneider about the illusive and illustrious Big Ear of Corn!
See what Dan Schneider had to say in this exclusive interview, and see THE Big Ear of Corn THIS SATURDAY July 23rd at San Diego Comic Con (details below!)
US: What made you decide to create the Big Ear of Corn?
DS: Well, at some point when I was writing part of the pilot script for All That, I wanted to add some weird, random, silly element to the “cast.” And for some reason I thought to myself, “Hmmm, a giant ear of corn would look pretty funny,” so I wrote in the Big Ear of Corn.
US: Did you just plan to write it in for one episode, or did you know it was going to be a recurring thing?
DS: I don’t remember exactly. I probably didn’t know it would become a regular thing on the show – that happens a lot in television. Sometimes, you think some element of the show will be a major thing, and then you change your mind and stop writing it in – it just goes away. Other times, you think something’s going to be a one-time bit, but then it becomes a regular part of the show. That’s what happened with the Big Ear of Corn. It worked well – it was funny on camera. So when I’d write new sketches – usually the show’s cold opens – I’d keep writing it in, and it became a regular thing on All That.
US: Can you tell me something else that was supposed to be a one-time bit, that turned into a regular thing?
DS: You mean for All That? Or for any show I’ve done?
US: Let’s say any show.
DS: Sure. Gibby on iCarly. That character was only written to be a guest star for one episode, but then Gibby became a major part of the show.
US: No way. How did that happen?
DS: I just thought he [Noah Munck] was so funny. His comedy timing – he just made us all laugh. So, we kept writing him in more and more episodes. And then finally we decided to make him a series regular character. Maybe that should be my next spin-off: Gibby & The Big Ear of Corn.
US: I’d watch! Anyway, when you think of the Big Ear of Corn, do any specific All That sketches come to mind?
DS: Yes, for sure. The one where the Big Ear of Corn had babies – all those little baby ears of corn.
US: I love that one!!!
DS: We all did, too – the writers, producers, the cast. I remember the cast really loving that sketch.
US: After All That ended production, what happened to the Big Ear of Corn?
DS: I was very careful to take it with me. I took it to my storage facility.
DS: Because when most TV shows end, the set dressing and the props get thrown away, or they get cannibalized and reused for some other show. Lots of stuff ends up tossed in a dumpster. That’s why, when one of my shows ends, I try to store and protect all the best props and set dressing.
US: So, the Big Ear of Corn went into your storage room?
DS: Yep. I’ve had a few different storage rooms over the years. And I’ve always kept the Big Ear of Corn.
US: What caused you to pull it out of storage recently?
DS: A friend from the network contacted me and said they wanted to use it. I think the main reason is, the original All That cast is going to be at Comic-Con, and they wanted the Big Ear of Corn to be on the panel. So, they asked me if they could use it and I said, “Sure… but it’s gonna need a little work.”
US: Why did it need work?
DS: Because it stayed in storage rooms for about 17 years. You gotta keep in mind, props for TV shows usually aren’t made to last. They just need to work, like, a week or so, and then they’re usually tossed.
US: But the Big Ear of Corn was used in lots of episodes.
DS: True. Still, the Big Ear of Corn was pretty fragile. After most episodes of All That were filmed, the art department would have to make minor repairs to keep it looking good and fresh for the next week of production. Then, after the show ended, I put it in storage where it stayed for years. And because of time, and the heat and cold, the Big Ear of Corn deteriorated. It didn’t fall apart, but it got a bit raggedy looking.
US: Was there any talk of just creating a new Big Ear of Corn?
DS: For a minute, yeah, but I didn’t want that to happen. I felt like, if they were going to bring out the Big Ear of Corn to show to the fans at Comic-Con and other places, it had to be the real Big Ear of Corn. I felt the fans deserved the real deal. So, we began a restoration process.
US: And how did that work?
DS: We have an amazing art department. They create the sets for all my shows – currently we’re working on Henry Danger and Game Shakers. And there’s a guy named Tristan – an amazing artist and awesome guy – and I asked him to go to my storage unit and check out the Big Ear of Corn, then give me his opinion of its condition.
US: And Tristan said…?
DS: He said it wasn’t in terrible shape. He said the bad news was that it had suffered deterioration because of time and temperature. The good news was that he could repair it, no problem, while keeping it original – and that made me happy because I wanted it to remain as original as possible.
US: Were you personally involved in the restoration process?
DS: Haha. No, I’m not so good with stuff like that. But I watched some of it, and I made sure that lots of videos and pics were taken of the whole restoration process from start to finish.
US: Please tell me you plan to show the fans of All That your pics and videos of the Big Ear of Corn restoration process.
DS: Of course I will! Definitely. I think All That fans will get a kick out of seeing the restoration journey. Look for that on our social media in the next few weeks.
US: Awesome. And where can fans see the Big Ear of Corn in real life?
DS: Well first, I’m told it will be at the All That panel at Comi-Con in San Diego this Saturday [July 23rd, 2016].
US: So, if fans go there, they’ll be seeing the actual, real, Big Ear of Corn from the real original All That series?
DS: That is absolutely, one hundred percent correct.
US: Okay. Now I need to ask this. Since nobody lives forever…
DS: Yikes – I know where this is going.
US: No, seriously! One day when you’re gone, what would you like to see happen to the Big Ear of Corn?
DS: Wow. Okay… I guess there are three options. I suppose that the Big Ear of Corn could be passed on to one of my nieces or nephews who loved All That… or maybe there should be some kind of cool contest for the fans of All That, and someone could win it and keep it in their own home… or maybe it should be passed on to one of the original All That cast members.
US: And if it went to an original All That cast member, who should get it?
DS: I’d have to say Lori Beth.
US: Why her?
DS: Because I remember her having the most love for the Big Ear of Corn, so she’d probably give it the best home and the most affection. And she’s a super nice person, so I’m sure she’d always allow the other cast members visitation rights.
US: Great. One more question…
DS: Go for it.
US: Exactly how big were Ear Boy’s ears?
DS: “Really” big. Remember? It’s explained in the theme song. “It’s Ear Boy, he’s Ear Boy – his ears are really big!” I think that sums it up.
YOU can see the Big Ear of Corn THIS SATURDAY July 23rd at 11:15 AM in Room 6 of the San Diego Comic Con “All That” Reunion!
Join Nickelodeon’s throwback programming block, The Splat, for a reunion of the trailblazing sketch comedy series’ major players. Josh Server, Danny Tamberelli, Lori Beth Denberg, and Kel Mitchell discuss all things “All That”, with a few added surprises. Plus, get the first look at Nick’s new TV movie based on “Legends of the Hidden Temple” and hear about it from returning cast members Kirk Fogg and Dee Bradley Baker,and other panelists, moderated by Entertainment Weekly’s LA correspondent, Marc Snetiker.
If you have a comment or question, we’d love to hear from you! Just type it below, and (in your comment) please let us know who your comment is for: Dan Schneider – Alyssa Kramer – or the Moderator. Thanks!