UPDATE, 1:45 PM: Happyish creator/executive producer Shalom Auslander issued a statement on Hoffman’s passing: “This planet is no damned place to have a heart, and Phil had the biggest, brokenest heart of anyone I have ever met. He was a beautiful person in a hideous world. Great actor, too.” Auslander and his writing team had been working on scripts for the recently picked up series, which now has been put on hold.
PREVIOUS, SUNDAY 12:50 PM: Like all great actors whose lives are tragically cut short way too early, Philip Seymour Hoffman is leaving a number of unfinished projects behind. Only two weeks ago, Showtime unveiled its two new series for 2014, including Happyish starring Hoffman in what would’ve been his first series role. (He earned an Emmy nomination in 2005 for the HBO mini Empire Falls.) Today, Showtime issued the following statement: “Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of our generation’s finest and most brilliant actors. He was also a gifted comedic talent. It was a great privilege and pleasure to work with him and we are all absolutely devastated by this sudden loss. Our thoughts go out to his family at this very difficult time.”
Of course, the news is so sudden and shocking, it will take time for Showtime brass to make a decision on the future of Happyish. But judging by the trailer from the pilot shown at TCA, Hoffman WAS the show. Here is how Showtime topper David Nevins introduced the project last month. “Happyish is a very personal comedy starring one of the really great actors of our time, Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. “Happyish is about the fear — in this world of 25 year old CEOs and 27 year old billionaires — of becoming culturally irrelevant at a surprisingly young age. Hoffman plays Thom Payne, a successful but self loathing creative director at a New York ad agency.” Happyish actually got made largely because Hoffman agreed to do it. The script had been in the works at Showtime literally for more than two years but was only greenlighted to pilot last summer after Hoffman agreed to star following a very lengthy courtship. “Happyish was a script that I’ve loved for a really long time, and it took us a while to get to Philip Seymour Hoffman,” Nevins said at TCA. “‘Could we really get Phil Hoffman to it?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘I don’t know.’ And it was a long process, but we didn’t have to rush, and we could wait and make you know, and slowly bring him in, and totally worth it for the waiting.” Happyish‘s writers had been working on scripts for the first season beyond the pilot but production was yet to begin. Hoffman also was to executive produce Happyish, which co-stars Kathryn Hahn and Rhys Ifans, through his Cooper’s Town banner. As a producer on the TV side, Hoffman also had transgender drama Ze, which is awaiting word on a pilot pickup at the CW.