In Showtime‘s Episodes, Matt LeBlanc plays a fictional version of himself, working on a terrible TV series adaptation of a good British comedy series that’s airing in this country on a network run by a president “who lies…every step of the way — a broadcast network television president,” Showtime president David Nevins clarified, as he introduced the cast and creators to TV critics at Winter TV Press Tour 2014.
“There was a stalker in London,” offered creator Jeffrey Klarik.
“There was a stalker. I did not sleep with her…She was cute is all,” LeBlanc jumped in.
Klarik and partner David Crane said they continue to get lots of stories based on real experiences of industry friends. Klarik told a story about a female friend of Indian heritage who pitched a network a series about her being raised in the U.S. by her Indian mother, and execs at a network that said they loved it, only they’d like her to lose her mom, and then they asked her to make her character black instead of Indian. Ultimately, it became a show “about three black guys raising a baby,” Klarik said.
Klarik said he once did a pilot about a girls boarding school and got a note from a network exec asking if they could see one scene in which the girls were all in their nighties.“Fourteen years old,” Klarik added.
Critics were charmed that Episode 5 of this season’s Episodes deals with the cast of Pucks coming to talk about their comedy series at a TCA-like event. “What took you so long?” asked one critic, adding, “It’s dead on accurate, I’m afraid,” and wondering if they’d gone back and looked at transcripts of press tours past for material. “No, we live with them in our heads,” shuddered Crane.
Another critic wanted to know what characteristics of actual industry execs got used to create Episodes network suits, specifically mentioning the hugginess of Warner Bros. TV Group president Peter Roth. “I worked for a guy who kept a gun in his drawer…and all the curtains closed,” Klarik offered. At one meeting the exec “put his head in my lap and cried,” Klarik said. ” We’re not that creative,” he acknowledged of the show’s quirky industry characters.
Showtime‘s Episodes has been renewed for a fourth season ahead of its Season 3 premiere. The comedy, a co-production with the BBC, has been picked up for a nine-episode fourth season to film next year. The third season of the series, starring Matt LeBlanc as a fictionalized version of himself, premieres January 12. It picks up with Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig) — the English couple whose hit UK sitcom is remade for U.S. audiences and corrupted beyond recognition — back together but they soon discover it’s not so easy to heal old wounds. Things get no easier for Matt this year as his career and ego continue to be pummeled. New guest stars include Chris Diamantopoulos in a season-long arc; Roger Bart in four episodes as LeBlanc’s agent; and Tracy Spiridakos as a family member of actress Morning Randolph (Mircea Monroe). Episodes is created and executive produced by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, and is also executive produced by Jimmy Mulville through his Hat Trick production company.