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New Comedy Probes US Art of Botching Britcoms

Some of the people who used to work for NBC on the comedy "Friends" are going to poke fun at that network's "The Office" (or maybe NBC's "Coupling" or CBS's "The Worst Week"? or Fox's "The Ortegas"?) in a new comedy for Showtime about a U.S. television network that buys a Britcom and then dumbs it down from American viewers.

And, because "Friends" creator David Crane is one of the creators of this new show, we're guessing it will have an all-white cast!

Already they've cast Matt LeBlanc, who starred in "Friends" -- the show for which Crane first tried out his priceless We Wrote the Script Colorblind But These White Actors Just Happened To Be the Best for the Parts line when asked by TV critics, back in the mid 90's, how, in this day and age, an ensemble-cast show set in New York could wind up with such a very white cast.

Crane had perfected that line by 2006, when he introduced to many of the same TV critics a new show he'd created -- this time set in Philly and with an all-white ensemble cast of eight! That show: CBS's "The Class."

Anyway, Showtime's new comedy, "Episodes" is a single-camera, no-laugh-track comedy about a British couple who come to Hollywood to make a U.S. version of their hit comedy show and things start to go awry. Starting with the re-casting of the proper British lead role with a sitcom star/hack played by LeBlanc -- who will be playing himself.

In addition to Crane, Jimmy Mulville will be one of the executive producers. His credits include UK shows that were adapted, in real life, into U.S. series. They include: "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", "The Kumars at No. 42" (which was called "The Ortegas" when it was adapted for Fox which, mercifully never aired the results), and "Worst Week" (which was called "The Worst Week of My Life" in the UK).

Also creating "Episodes," and executive producing, is Jeffrey Klarik whose credits include the aforementioned all-white ensemble comedy "The Class" as well as "Mad About You."

"I am so glad I got the part. Seeing someone else play Matt LeBlanc would have been devastating," LeBlanc said in Showtime's announcement. Which is exactly the kind of cringe-worthy news-release canned quote you'd expect to turn up in the new show.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  September 30, 2009; 1:44 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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This is so meta, my head is about to explode. I guess now I have a reason to keep my Showtime subscription.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 30, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Why does Lisa de Moraes hate white people?

Posted by: popopo | September 30, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Jeffrey Klarik (co crator of this and The Class) also created the UPN series Half & Half which was completely cast with black actors. I noticed you left that bit of information out. Perhaps it hurts your racist case. Shame on you.

Posted by: gregsawyer2006 | September 30, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow! What she would have said about the Cosby Show or any other TV show with a predominate black cast? Probably nothing! Let's get the racist stuff out of this column. Perhaps time to replace the writer although this does tend to track the Post's idealogical bent.

Posted by: POPS1 | October 1, 2009 5:52 AM | Report abuse

It would be really nice if Lisa would explain why she felt the need to include all the comments about racism in this column.

Posted by: dennis5 | October 2, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

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