Tuned In

The One Where Matt LeBlanc Gets a Showtime Series

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A Friends star changes career direction by making an inside-showbiz satire for a pay-cable network: in the TV industry, they call it “pulling a full Kudrow.” OK, they don’t, but they should. (The variation—making an overserious inside-showbiz drama for NBC, is referred to as “a full Perry.”) First Lisa Kudrow made HBO’s The Comeback; now Matt LeBlanc has signed a deal to make six episodes of Episodes, a sitcom-about-a-sitcom from producers of Friends and Mad About You, for Showtime. Details from the press release follow. Can it clear the bar set by Joey?

LOS ANGELES, CA – (September 30, 2009) – “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc and creators David Crane (“Friends,” “The Class”) and Jeffrey Klarik (“The Class,” “Mad About You”) have teamed up on a fresh new send-up of the television business entitled EPISODES, a single-camera comedy series about a British couple whose hit UK show is turned into a dumbed-down American sit-com starring LeBlanc (as himself), it was announced today by SHOWTIME President of Entertainment Robert Greenblatt.

Crane and Klarik created the series and Jimmy Mulville will also serve as executive producer through his successful Hat Trick production company (“Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” “The Kumars at No. 42”, “Worst Week”). EPISODES, a co-production of Showtime and the BBC, will begin shooting the six episodes in London and Hollywood this winter for a 2010 debut on SHOWTIME and BBC Two.

[Gushing quotes from Greenblatt and LeBlanc redacted.]

When a successful British husband-and-wife comedy team are lured by Hollywood to produce a new version of their hit series for a stateside audience, they’re initially thrilled at the prospects. But they soon realize what the American execs have in store for their precious show – including replacing the erudite British lead with the quintessential comedy star, Matt LeBlanc – and begin to sink deeper into the quicksand that is the TV business. Before long it’s clear that not just the couple’s show is at stake, but perhaps even their marriage.

Incidentally, how did Ricky Gervais not manage to make this sitcom already? Are they having a laugh?