Mike Judge met tech billionaires before setting out to do HBO‘s comedy Silicon Valley “before the big bubble burst when everyone wanted to do animation” and discovered “there’s a sort of a billionaire vibe” and that they fall into two categories: “The Asperger-y Type and the sort of more … uber competitive.”
The dark comedy series is from King Of The Hill’s Judge, producer Scott Rudin and 3 Arts’ Michael Rotenberg and Tom Lassally. The untitled single-camera project — which HBO picked up to series in May — is set in the high-tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, where the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success. The pilot starred T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Josh Brener, Lindsey Broad, Christopher Evan Welch, Amanda Crew, Angela Trimbur, Zach Woods and Kumail Nanjiani. The pickup came two days after the series order for another HBO half-hour pilot, Michael Lannan & Andrew Haigh’s untitled San Francisco project. The Judge show joins HBO’s praised current comedies Girls and Veep.
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The series delves into the tension on the area of the tech types and the community that’s not cashing in on the scene, added exec producer Alec Berg. “It’s kind of funny: The Bay Area is where the whole hippie movement started and they’re still lingering.” That makes some of the tech billionaires so uncomfortable they “shroud their capitalism in their ‘We’re making the world a better place’ thing,” he added.
Among those portraying tech entrepreneurs on the show was Christopher Evan Welch, whose death last month at 48 did not affect the first season of the series but would affect the second, the two said. “Luckily, we had gotten the first five, of eight [episodes],” Judge said. The actor had been diagnosed with lung cancer three years earlier. “We haven’t processed how it will affect a second season.” Added Berg: “He was incredible, and we loved writing for him,” describing how at the end of each day they would drive home imitating Welch. “It’s a huge tragedy on a personal level. We did a lot of great scenes with him. … It’s a real shame.”
Judge said HBO is giving him more freedom than he enjoyed while doing Fox’s King Of The Hill or MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head. “It’s not like I’m a person who’s always looking to be edgy and outrageous and explicit with things, but it’s been a great experience,” he sayd. “We have what might be one of the most complicated dick jokes ever told.” Added Berg: “And sophisticated. I hope this goes down in the annals of dick jokes as one of, if not the most sophisticated, dick jokes.”