Almost a year before his death, comedian Garry Shandling sat down with British filmmakers Paul Toogood and Lloyd Stanton for an extended interview. They were making a documentary about stand-up titled Dying Laughing, and the Shandling interview was just one they conducted with over 100 other comics from around the world. Yet the trio’s meeting then ultimately blossomed into a professional relationship that, along with Shandling’s advice on an early cut of Dying Laughing, included a proposed television series based on his private journals.
“We were very fortunate to work with Garry Shandling and interview him,” Toogood tells us. “We ended up working with him on a new project which is not to be in the end because of his sad passing.” Asked about what their project with Shandling entailed, Stanton and Toogood reveal it was a “new TV series based on Garry’s journals that he had kept since his early twenties. The project was called Halfway To Hawaii.”
Toogood and Stanton didn’t dive into the details of what Shandling’s television show would have ultimately become. It might have become one of Shandling’s most personal projects, considering the extensiveness of the journals. As Shandling explained in a 2010 GQ profile, the journals helped him determine “my path and how I’m growing and where I’m at.” And considering how often that path led him to Hawaii (with authors, talk show hosts and random passersby), Halfway To Hawaii‘s title makes perfect sense.
There is another Shandling project in the works, too, and one sure to involve the journals. Judd Apatow, who inherited Shandling’s journals sometimes publishes excerpts on Instagram is working on a documentary about the comic great. “Shooting started today,” he wrote in an Instagram post. Apatow updated his Twitter followers months later, asking if “anyone has any great video, photos or anything helpful.”
Fans can also see Shandling in Dying Laughing, his final appearance, in select theaters or on demand on February 24th. “We showed Garry the film, and he was the first person who saw the film, on an early cut. He said, ‘I’m so pleased you haven’t got stand-up clips in it because we’ve seen that.’ It was really very supportive of him,” says Toogood. “We were trying to do something different, and overwhelmingly, it feels like quite the serious film about comedy.”