VOD Spotlight Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping © 2016 Universal Studios Credit Glen Wilson

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is from the creative minds behind the  hit musical digital-shorts, familiar to fans of Saturday Night Live and YouTube: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, collectively known as The Lonely Island. The film goes behind the scenes as singer/rapper Conner4Real (Samberg) faces a crisis of popularity after his sophomore album flops.

Samberg says, of his character, “Conner is a popstar with limited rapping and singing ability. He has moved on to solo glory, but at what cost? He has become very narcissistic with his solo career. He embraces the front man role, and loves being the center of attention.” Jorma Taccone, plays Owen, one-time best friend and band mate to Conner, now relegated to being his deejay, as Conner pursues a solo career. Of Owen, Samberg says, “Owen’s goal is to get the Style Boyz back together. He is a big supporter of Conner and enjoys being on the road, but in his ideal world they would get back together.” Lawrence (played by Schaffer) quit the business when the band broke up. He’s living on a farm in Colorado, but still harbors rage toward Conner for breaking up the band.

The guys admit they were inspired by the likes of the early documentary films of such superstars as Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. “We had talked about this concept for 10 years and then with the advent of so many documentaries on pop stars, it focused us on the story,” offers Samberg. “Akiva had a casual meeting with Judd [Apatow, who produced the film], talking about various projects, and Judd said we should definitely make a mockumentary based on all the documentaries in the last few years about pop stars.”  Taccone reflects on their goal for the film: “We wanted to take the big and fake comedy music we make and turn it into a more outrageous and ridiculous version that you couldn’t have on television. On Saturday Night Live we developed our musical and music video style together, and this is an extension of that. This is the logical progression to a bigger and cooler version of everything that we did on SNL.”

While Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a fictional movie, it’s very much based on the dynamic of all three guys,  Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer, in real life. They all grew up together as best friends, and that bond has informed their movie-making progress. “Being so close, we never say ‘that’s good enough.’ We push each other hard on the creative side of things because we can,” says Samberg.

And while, as Apatow notes: “This film is all about having fun with the modern fluff music ‘documentary’. “A lot of the current music stars make documentaries about themselves where they are kissing their own asses. They show their history, their struggles and their relationships with the fans. Usually, it’s designed to promote an album or a tour. We thought it would be so funny if you were shooting one of those documentaries … and your life just completely fell apart.”

The producer also appreciated that this story is, ultimately, one of friendship. Apatow reflects: “It is about a young man who was in a band and when they got successful he decided to go solo, which is very common. Some of the movie is about those friendships, and how you lose them or try to get them back. It has both emotional and absurd humor; it has the music and the visual  aspects. The Lonely Island are the only people who could make something like this.”

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is available beginning Aug. 30 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.