Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Ricky Gervais‘ longtime writing partner and production collaborator Stephen Merchant insisted today at TCA that his new eight-episode HBO comedy series Hello Ladies that debuts on the network September 29 isn’t designed as his big move to step out of Gervais’ shadow and establish his own performing chops. “Not at all,” the shy, deadpan Merchant said. “It was actually HBO’s idea. They suggested a sitcom after seeing my standup act. And because Ricky has been in a relationship with his girlfriend Jane since he was like 20, and I have huge issues in my dating life, it just evolved as being my own.” Merchant stars, co-writes and directs the half-hour that casts him as a bumbling, gangly English web designer named Stuart who is transplanted to Los Angeles. It’s all about his hapless attempts to blend in with the sophisticated L.A. social scene and striking out with the ladies. (more…)