15 Lawful Facts About the Police Academy Movies
The Police Academy franchise consists of seven feature films, one live-action series, and a cartoon. Despite consistently poor reviews, the first three films made a combined total of more than $578 million (after inflation). The first four movies featured Steve Guttenberg, who achieved mega-stardom from it throughout the 1980s. Along the way, the likes of Kim Cattrall and Sharon Stone joined in on the ongoing misadventures of the gang of outcasts, misfits, and just plain unemployable police academy graduates. Here are some facts about the movies you can read as long as you don't move, dirtbag.
1. THE IDEA FOR THE MOVIES CAME FROM THE RIGHT STUFF.
Producer Paul Maslansky was on the San Francisco set of the 1983 movie about the original Mercury 7 astronauts. When a group of police cadets arrived to help with crowd control for a street scene, the history of cinema was forever altered. "When they piled out of the buses to take their posts, they were so diverse—men, women, tall, short, black, Chinese—it was very humorous for me," Maslansky remembered. "I asked the sergeant, 'Are these all going to be future San Francisco's finest?' He looked at me and said, 'We gotta take them all into the academy, but we can flunk 'em out.' It started me thinking, 'What if they don't want to be flunked out? What if some guy or girl wants to stay in?'" Maslansky wrote a two-page treatment that night.
2. MICHAEL KEATON WAS SET TO STAR, WITH DOM DELUISE DIRECTING.
By the time the script was finished, neither was available. Producers also wanted Tom Hanks or Judge Reinhold for Mahoney.
3. BRUCE WILLIS AUDITIONED FOR MAHONEY.
He would soon achieve stardom with the TV series Moonlighting.
4. GUTTENBERG'S FATHER WAS A NEW YORK CITY COP.
Guttenberg's mother eventually couldn't handle the stress of worrying about him and made him quit the police force. He then worked at an electronics store. At his screen test for Police Academy (1984), Guttenberg wore his father's shirt with "New York Police Academy" on the shoulder.
5. MICHAEL WINSLOW GOT THE ROLE AFTER OPENING FOR COUNT BASIE.
Maslansky, who is also a jazz musician, and director Hugh Wilson (creator of WKRP in Cincinnati) saw Winslow perform at the Long Beach Theater with Count Basie and hired him immediately. Basie himself told Maslansky and Wilson to take care of the young comedian.
6. ROGER EBERT REALLY, REALLY HATED POLICE ACADEMY.
"It's really something," Ebert wrote. "It's so bad, maybe you should pool your money and draw straws and send one of the guys off to rent it so that in the future, whenever you think you're sitting through a bad comedy, he could shake his head, and chuckle tolerantly, and explain that you don't know what bad is." Needless to say, the movie got a thumbs down.
7. BILL PAXTON WAS SET TO APPEAR IN THE SECOND TWO FILMS.
Holding up the deal was the insistence of the powers that be to tie Paxton to Police Academy 2 and 3. While that was going on, James Cameron called Paxton to offer him the part of Private Hudson in Aliens (1986). Paxton chose to take Cameron up on his offer, despite it paying half as much as Police Academy.
8. TIM KAZURINSKY WAS ONLY SUPPOSED TO APPEAR IN ONE SCENE.
Former SNL cast member Tim Kazurinsky, who played Carl Sweetchuck, originally agreed to work for one day on Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, and appear in one scene. After the original director, Jim Signorelli, was fired three weeks into production and replaced by Jerry Paris, Paris said he didn't like most of what was shot, except for the scenes with Bobcat Goldthwait (who played Zed) and "the old man in the lamp store" (Kazurinsky). Apparently, Paris—who also directed the series' third installment—knew what he was doing. "Six weeks later, Bobcat and I were still on set and Jerry Paris was saying to us, 'Well, what do you guys want to do today?'" Kazurinsky told The A.V. Club. "It was like the silliest thing of all. And we’d say, 'We’re in the supermarket and I’ll hide in the bananas and Bob will find me.' And apparently the kids liked it. They had these cards people sign when they leave the theater—'Who’d you like?' They liked Bobcat and they liked the old guy in the lamp store, so they had us join the force next year. I was like, 'They want me to be a cop? I’m like 50 to 60 years old in this!' It didn’t matter. So we were cops in a couple more movies."
9. CAPTAIN HARRIS WAS SO DRUNK HE ENTIRELY FORGOT SHOOTING ONE OF THE MOVIES.
Major Crimes star G.W. Bailey, who played Lieutenant-turned-Captain Harris throughout the film series, claimed he was drunk while shooting Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987) and does not remember it at all. "I don't have any idea what it was about," Bailey told The A.V. Club.
10. TONY HAWK WAS FIRED FROM POLICE ACADEMY 4.
Tony Hawk was dismissed from his duties as the skateboarding stunt double for David Spade (who made his feature film debut in the film) on account of being too tall and unable to hide his face. Hawk said it was a "badge of honor to be fired from such a cheesy comedy." Hawk recently proved on Twitter he was still in the closing credits, along with the rest of the skateboarding team, The Bones Brigade.
11. VINCE NEIL WAS CUT OUT OF POLICE ACADEMY 6: CITY UNDER SIEGE.
In a deleted scene, Hightower helped the Mötley Crüe singer get to the airport on time.
12. MICHAEL WINSLOW WAS THE ONLY ACTOR IN ALL SEVEN MOVIES AND THE LIVE-ACTION SHOW.
David Graf (Tackleberry) and George Gaynes (Commandant Lassard) were also in all seven movies, but Winslow was also in Police Academy: The Series, which ran in syndication for one season from 1997 to 1998.
13. BUBBA SMITH DROPPED OUT OF POLICE ACADEMY: MISSION TO MOSCOW DUE TO SOLIDARITY.
When Smith learned that Marion Ramsey, who played Laverne Hooks, had been written out of the seventh and (currently) final installment, despite appearing in all of the previous six movies like Smith, he said he wasn't going to join the 1994 project. It was the lowest-grossing movie in the series, by a wide margin.
14. BILL CLINTON IS A FAN.
"Every time I've seen President Clinton he says when he's in a bad mood he turns on Police Academy,'' Guttenberg said. (No word on whether Hillary is a fan.)
15. KEY AND PEELE ARE PRODUCING A POTENTIAL EIGHTH MOVIE.
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have been at work on a reboot of the series for a couple of years; their project is rumored to be titled Police Academy: Next Generation.