Fat, Drunk, and Stupid

The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House

Matty Simmons

St. Martin's Griffin

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In 1976 the creators of National Lampoon, America’s most popular humor magazine, decided to make a movie. It would be set on a college campus in the 1960s, loosely based on the experiences of Lampoon writers Chris Miller and Harold Ramis and Lampoon editor Doug Kenney. They named it Animal House, in honor of Miller’s fraternity at Dartmouth, where the members had been nicknamed after animals.

Miller, Ramis, and Kenney wrote a film treatment that was rejected and ridiculed by Hollywood studios—until at last Universal Pictures agreed to produce the film, with a budget of $3 million.

A cast was assembled, made up almost completely of unknowns. Stephen Furst, who played Flounder, had been delivering pizzas. Kevin Bacon was a waiter in Manhattan when he was hired to play Chip. Chevy Chase was considered for the role of Otter, but it wound up going to the lesser-known Tim Matheson. John Belushi, for his unforgettable role as Bluto, made $40,000 (the movie’s highest-paid actor).

For four weeks in the fall of 1977, the actors and crew invaded the college town of Eugene, Oregon, forming their own sort of fraternity in the process. The hilarious, unforgettable movie they made wound up earning more than $600 million and became one of America’s most beloved comedy classics. It launched countless careers and paved the way for today’s comedies from directors such as Judd Apatow and Todd Phillips.

Bestselling author Matty Simmons was the founder of National Lampoon and the producer of Animal House. In Fat, Drunk, and Stupid, he draws from exclusive interviews with actors including Karen Allen, Kevin Bacon, Peter Riegert, and Mark Metcalf, director John Landis, fellow producer Ivan Reitman, and other key players—as well as behind-the-scenes photos—to tell the movie’s outrageous story, from its birth in the New York offices of the National Lampoon to writing a script, assembling the perfect cast, the wild weeks of filming, and, ultimately, to the film’s release and megasuccess.

This is a hilarious romp through one of the biggest grossing, most memorable, most frequently quoted, and most celebrated comedies of all time.

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Book Excerpts

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1
THE HOUSE IS OPEN
 
 
It was July 26, 1978, a hot and humid Friday night. I drove down Park Avenue slowly—everyone and everything moved slowly. The car in front of me seemed not to move at all. The people in the streets didn’t walk with the usual New York overdrive but with the tired tread of a weary and almost defeated populace. It was summer in Manhattan and one of those nights that you think of only as an excuse to go to the mountains or the beach, or anywhere where you can breathe.
It seemed I was the only one on Park Avenue whose adrenaline was pumping.

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Reviews

Praise for Fat, Drunk, and Stupid

“[A] one-of-a-kind book… A unique look at the one movie that, more than any other, told Americans it’s okay to access your inner frat boy. In fact, it’s recommended.” —Washington Post

 

“Loyal fans of ‘Animal House’ will find much to like in this engaging read.” —Booklist

 

“A fond look back on the ‘little movie’ that turned into a blockbuster, made John Belushi a star, and spawned dozens of badly made imitations… Simmons had a front-row seat at the film’s creation, and he provides a detailed look at how the movie was made, as well as its unanticipated success.”  —Publishers Weekly

 

“Simmons brings a singular perspective to this behind-the-scenes look… Simmons’s tone is breezy, and he offers amusing anecdotes about cast members.” —Library Journal


In the Press

Book review: “Fat, Drunk, and Stupid,” by Matty Simmons - The Washington Post
Matty Simmons’s book offers a unique look at the one movie that, more than any other, told Americans it’s okay to access your inner frat boy.
- The Washington Post


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About the Author

Matty Simmons

Matty Simmons was the producer of Animal House and founder and CEO of National Lampoon. He has produced nine other films, including the Vacation series, collaborated with such well-known writers as John Hughes and Judd Apatow, been a newspaper reporter and press agent, and written eight books, including several bestsellers. He currently writes for Reader’s Digest and other publications. He lives in Los Angeles.

Matty Simmons

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Available Formats and Book Details

Fat, Drunk, and Stupid
The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House
Matty Simmons

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
April 2014
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781250042804
ISBN10: 1250042801
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 244 pages, Includes two 8-page black-and-white photograph sections
$15.99

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
April 2012
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780312552268
ISBN10: 0312552262
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 240 pages, two 8-page black and white photo inserts
$25.99

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
April 2012
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429942355
ISBN10: 1429942355
240 pages, two 8pp b/w photo inserts
$9.99
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