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Mark Cuban, as President of the United States, and Ian Ziering in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!. Donald Trump had initially agreed to play the president. Photo: The Global Asylum/Syfy

Trump was almost the president in Sharknado 3, after Sarah Palin turned down the role; then he decided to seek the job for real

Before deciding to run for the top job in US, Trump had agreed to play a fictional president in third Sharknado film, co-founder of production company says; role eventually went to NBA team owner Mark Cuban

Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump may have a lot on his plate. But at least he doesn’t have to deal with swarms of flying sharks.

Had he not become president, however, that’s possibly what he would have faced, at least in an absurdist fictional way, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In his previous life, he had accepted a role in Syfy’s Sharknado TV film series. He was to play a fictional president, working with the show’s hero, Fin Shepard (actor Ian Ziering), to defeat the sharks after they strike the nation’s capital.

‘Donald’s thinking about making a legitimate run for the presidency, so we’ll get back to you’
David Latt, quoting Michael Cohen

“The Donald said yes,” David Latt, the 51-year-old co-founder of The Asylum, which produces the series, told the Hollywood Reporter. “He was thrilled to be asked.”

But the show went on in 2015 without Trump in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! Instead, the role of president was played by Mark Cuban, the owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

Trump and Cuban were second and third choices after Sarah Palin declined the role of POTUS.

The role was potentially a chance to be associated with a high-ratings venture, and Trump cares deeply about ratings. So a contract was drawn up and sent to Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen.

“We got pretty far,” Gerald Webb, a casting director who worked on the first three Sharknado films, told the Reporter. “It was serious talks.”

Ian Ziering and Tara Reid talk about Sharknado 5: Global Swarming at the AOL Studios in New York ahead of its premiere. Photo: AP

There was only one issue. Trump’s eyes were set on more than a fictional presidency – he wanted the real thing. After the Trump camp grew silent, Syfy reached back out to him.

“‘Donald’s thinking about making a legitimate run for the presidency, so we’ll get back to you,’” Cohen said, according to Latt. “This might not be the best time.”

For the uninitiated, the Sharknado franchise is a series of campy made-for-TV movies on the Syfy channel that answer the age-old question, “What would happen if tornadoes of sharks flew around the country and attacked people?”

Trump decided he wanted to be US president, not play one in a TV movie. Photo: AFP

There are currently four films, with a fifth on the way. They have titles like Sharknado 2: The Second One and Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!. The trailer for the fourth movie called it “the sequel to the sequel of the sequel to the greatest movie about sharks and tornadoes that’s ever existed.” At one point in the third movie, a great white shark lands in the lap of the Abraham Lincoln statue in his eponymous monument.

These are decidedly not good films, nor are they meant to be. As The Washington Post’s television critic Hank Stuever put it, “Perhaps the real value in Sharknado is to become an annual cleansing ritual of our tackiest impulses?”

One reason for Sharknado’s appeal, beside its ridiculousness, might be its reliance on B- and C-list celebrities. People such as Al Roker, Paul Shaffer, Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Jare Fogel, Wayne Newton, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan and even Ann Coulter and Anthony Weiner have been seduced by Sharknado’s charms, making cameo appearances in the various films.

A promotional poster for 2015’s Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

After casting Cuban in the role, things turned ugly, Latt told the Hollywood Reporter.

“Then we immediately heard from Trump’s lawyer,” recalls Latt. “He basically said, ‘How dare you? Donald wanted to do this. We’re going to sue you! We’re going to shut the entire show down!’” Contacted by THR, Cohen acknowledges a dinner with Ziering to discuss casting Trump but says he has no recollection of the angry correspondence.

“Webb, now at his own production company, is philosophical about the dust-up. “I took it personally, but I get it now,” he says. “That was my moment of doing business with Donald Trump. And that’s Sharknado.”