'Sharknado 2: The Second One' takes NYC by storm

Sharks encircle the Empire State Building in a Sharks encircle the Empire State Building in a scene from Syfy's "Sharknado 2: The Second One." Photo Credit: Syfy

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Last year, chain saw in hand, surfer and bar owner Finley "Fin" Shepard (Ian Ziering) defended Los Angeles from deadly sharks scooped from the sea by a freak storm and rained onto Tinseltown.

Syfy's campy horror flick "Sharknado" turned into one of the biggest social-media stories of 2013, with everyone from CNN newsman Jake Tapper to actress Mia Farrow hitting Twitter to talk about it.

Come Wednesday at 9 p.m., again on Syfy, the freak storm strikes again, as "Sharknado 2: The Second One" crosses the continent to hit New York City. Fin's back, along with wife, April (Tara Reid), with Mark McGrath stepping in as Fin's longtime pal and brother-in-law, Martin.

Guest stars and cameos include Kelly Osbourne, Judah Friedlander, Andy Dick, Judd Hirsch (as a cabbie), wrestler Kurt Angle and Robert Klein (as the mayor), along with Al Roker and Matt Lauer from NBC's "Today" show.

Once again, Anthony C. Ferrante directs from a script by Thunder Levin, with the Big Apple as a backdrop. After doing lots of promotion on his own for the first film, it was still a shock to see it blow up into a cultural and merchandising phenomenon.

This gives him a kinship with his lead character, whose life also has been forever changed.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"There's a little meta-ness to the second movie," Ziering says during a press day at a Pasadena, California, hotel, "in that what's happened to Fin and April is similar to what happened to all of us -- myself and all the actors -- with this movie.

"It became a phenomenon; it became this thing. Fin's, like, 'I lost two friends; I almost destroyed half of Los Angeles, and I was swallowed by a shark.' We had to acknowledge it."

But wrecking L.A. is not like wreaking havoc on New York, which holds a place in the American heart, especially in the wake of 9/11.

@Newsday

"There's enough you can do with New York," he says, "that doesn't remind you of things. Obviously, we're not going to see a building collapse, but it's OK if two sharks hit it. We buy goodwill, because in Los Angeles, people are in it for themselves. When you're in New York, New Yorkers come together."

For McGrath, it was a chance to play something he's familiar with -- a family man with a little party in his past.

"Fin and I were the same guy growing up," he says, at the same hotel. "There's a love and a bond, and he respects me, but we got into a little trouble down on the Jersey Shore back in the day."

A dumb flick, smart move

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Judd Hirsch is going from the ridiculous to the sublime in his newest TV roles.

The 79-year-old actor best known for "Taxi" appears in "Sharknado 2: The Second One," about sharks unleashed on New York City, and airing Wednesday on Syfy.

"They told me I was going to be eaten by a shark," he said. "I said, 'I'm in.'"

Hirsch's regular gig will be co-starring on the ABC series "Forever," which begins with a sneak preview on Sept. 22. He plays the best friend and confidant of the New York City medical examiner, who has immortality.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"Every once in a while, the intelligence of a show just grabs me," Hirsch said last week at the TV critics' tour. "To be able to develop a character, that's a gift in television. To be associated with an experience that is unusual, a life that never seems to end, it's always something to think about."

The TV role is Hirsch's first regular one since his five-year run on "Numb3rs" ended four years ago.

Coming soon: Newsday's Entertainment newsletter, for the latest on celebs, TV, more.

You also may be interested in: