TCA: Comedy 'Up All Night' Takes Oprah Route With Workplace Change

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

At this afternoon’s TCA panel on the new NBC comedy Up All Night — a new-baby sitcom starring Will Arnett and Christina Applegate as exhausted parents and Maya Rudolph as Applegate’s boss — creator Emily Spivey (Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live) addressed the decision to change Rudolph and Applegate’s workplace from a PR firm to a daytime talk show. “A talk show for Maya’s character Ava is just more fun,” Spivey said. “It seemed like a natural progression…Once we started talking through it, it just happened to be more fruitful.” Applegate will play Ava’s producer on the show, which would be “inspirational” in the mold of Oprah. “When people say daytime talk show, the first word is Oprah,” Rudolph said. “Anyone that’s doing daytime talk holds her in high esteem.” Rudolph knows a thing or two about that, she famously impersonated Oprah Winfrey on SNL, and the talk show queen didn’t seem to mind. “She was great, she actually had me come to the show,” Rudolph said. “She said I was the only woman to actually play her.” Added Spivey: “She thanked us for not putting [Rudolph] in a fat suit.”

Up All Night executive producer Lorne Michaels  addressed a comment made earlier in the day by entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt that NBC was in talks with Michaels about doing a prime time variety show. While Michaels didn’t confirm it, he said in response to being told by a journalist about Greenblatt’s remark: “I’m very, very happy to hear that. We are always trying to find ways — when you work in New York, especially at Studio 8H, (it) is sort of the last remnant of that. Bob (Greenblatt) is a fan of it and I am too, so we’ll see where it leads.” Michaels observed that such sketch comedy players as SNL veteran Maya Rudolph (who stars as a talk-show host on Up All Night) and popular SNL guest Justin Timberlake would be “huge variety stars” if such shows still existed, but “they’re just not doing it anymore.”


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