Showtime lands a ‘Friends’ reunion

09.30.09 8 years ago

John Marshall Mantel/AP

“Friends” star Matt LeBlanc and “Friends” co-creator David Crane are reuniting for “Episodes,” a new comedy for Showtime and BBC Two.

Created by Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, who also collaborated on CBS’ “The Class,” “Episodes” will be a single-camera comedy about a British couple whose BBC show is dumbed down into an American sitcom. That American sitcom stars none other than Matt LeBlanc, who will be playing himself.

“What a thrill to have two giants of the comedy world like Klarik and Crane to satirize what they know best: the making (or un-making) of art,” states Showtime Entertainment President Robert Greenblatt. “We jumped at the chance to get involved with this cock-eyed look at network television told through the eyes of unsuspecting British producers who don’t know what hit them when they enter the lion’s den of Hollywood. And Matt LeBlanc — wryly sending up his own image — is icing on the cake.  This show complements our eclectic and critically-acclaimed line-up of half-hour comedies beautifully.”

If you’re tracing LeBlanc’s career arc, after playing an actor with a different name for 10 seasons on “Friends” (earning three Emmy nominations in the process) and two seasons of “Joey,” the “Ed” and “Lost in Space” star has now earned the ability to play himself. When his colleague Lisa Kudrow played a former sitcom star in HBO’s “The Comeback,” she took a different name.

Showtime was in business with another of LeBlanc’s “Friends” co-stars, Matthew Perry, on the dark comedy pilot “The End of Steve,” but opted not to go to series.

“Jeffrey and David have a great idea — I love it,”  Matt LeBlanc says in the Showtime statement. “I am really excited to be working with Showtime and the BBC.  And I am so glad I got the part, seeing someone else play Matt LeBlanc would have been devastating.”

Showtime and BBC will produce six episodes of “Episodes” filming this winter in London and Hollywood and set to premiere in 2010. In addition to Crane and Klarik, who will draw on their own behind-the-scenes sitcom experiences, “Episodes” will be produced by Jimmy Mullville through his Hat Trick production comedy, which produced the British “The Kumars at No. 42” and “Worst Week,” which were both turned into American sitcoms.

“It is very exciting to be making this wonderful production for Showtime and the BBC,” Mulville says. “Both networks have an outstanding portfolio of exciting and innovative comedies, and it is an honor to be included amongst them.  The scripts are brilliantly funny, and with Matt LeBlanc playing a hilarious version of himself, ‘Episodes’ promises to be one of the treats of 2010.”

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