Comic actor Will Sasso is stepping in to play the title role in Audio Up’s new animated musical-comedy podcast, “The Ballad of Uncle Drank,” replacing Gary Busey, who is out of the project after being charged with criminal sexual contact in New Jersey.
The 11-episode series also has a new premiere date, as it’s retooled with Sasso in the lead. Formerly set to bow Aug. 30, “Uncle Drank” is now due Sept. 13 through major podcast hosts, including all of SiriusXM’s audio entertainment platforms (including the SXM App, Pandora and Stitcher).
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Sasso, known for TV roles on “MadTV,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “Less Than Perfect,” joins a voice cast that includes Luke Wilson, Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley, Chelcie Lynn, Billy Zane, Scarlett Burke and Audio Up CEO Jared Gutstadt.
Audio Up had no comment on Busey leaving the series, saying it could not address his exit because of an ongoing police investigation. The audio entertainment company had only just announced the project and Busey’s lead role on Aug. 18, two days before the 78-year-old actor was charged by the Cherry Hill, NJ Police Department with several counts based on reports of his allegedly groping attendees at a fan convention who had paid to pose for photos with him. Busey has denied any wrongdoing.
A new trailer was released with Sasso live and in character as Uncle Drank, previously described as a veteran country singer with a bent for the beach who is said to represent a combination of the personas of Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney and the lead character from “Eastbound and Down.”
The 11-part series looks back on the fictional character’s exploits in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, with a song score of satirical country music numbers. Uncle Drank’s singing voice is also provided by Sasso, and an initial song, “Biggest Dock on the Lake,” was already released to DSPs, with a full soundtrack to follow after the premiere.
In a statement, “Jingle” Jared Gutstadt said, “Much like Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman, we are inspiring folks by creating a new type of superhero wrapped in our original IP. Instead of being able to leap from buildings, fight superheroes, and/or withstand physical pain, Uncle Drank knows how to enjoy his life in a way that will inspire many beach-goers, fans of country music and folks who like to laugh. Will Sasso is one of the funniest individuals we’ve ever met, and I could not be more excited to have him join this incredible cast. Let the beach-fueled adventures begin.” The series is written and directed by Gutstadt and Zach Selwyn, Audio Up’s VP of production.
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