FX sends Billy Crystal’s ‘The Comedians’ to series

“Soap” star Billy Crystal is returning to series television with “The Comedians,” which has been ordered to series by FX.

The half-hour project stars Crystal as a superstar veteran comic who is paired with an edgier up-and-coming comic (Josh Gad), leading to “an unfiltered, behind-the-scenes look at a late night sketch comedy show where egos and generations collide.”

In addition to Crystal and Gad, “The Comedians” stars Stephanie Weir, Matt Oberg and Megan Ferguson.

Crystal is serving as executive producer and writer on the project, along with Larry Charles, Matt Nix and Ben Wexler. Charles directed the pilot and, not to be left out, Gad will be a producer. 

Produced by Fox TV Studios, production on “The Comedians” will begin this year and FX will premiere the show in 2015. The whole thing was based on a Swedish format.

“We”re incredibly excited about 'The Comedians' and the fact that Billy Crystal will be making his return to series television on FX,” blurbs Nick Grad, one of FX's two Presidents of Original Programming. “The chemistry between Billy and Josh is amazing, and Larry, Matt, Ben and Billy did a fantastic job of making what is certain to become one of the best comedies on TV.”

Adds Fox TV Studios President David Madden, “If comedy is timing, we were wildly fortunate to land this material at a time when two true comedy superstars were open to doing a series. With the combination of Billy and Josh, and the comic writing/directing gifts of Larry, Ben and Matt, all we needed to do was to get out of their way.”

[Is Josh Gad a “true comedy superstar”? Serious question. In animated form, he has helped “Frozen” make a billion dollars worldwide and he keeps getting linked to various major feature franchises, but NBC's “1600 Penn” didn't last particularly long and it wasn't like that comedy aired *that* long ago.]

Crystal's last regular TV gig was on “Saturday Night Live” back in the peculiar 1984-85 season, though he first made his TV mark playing Jodie on “Soap,” which ran from 1977-1981. That was followed by the very short-lived NBC variety show “The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour,” which was cancelled after two airings. Crystal has subsequently won a slew of Emmys for his work on different Academy Awards telecasts.

FX previously ordered a pair of new comedies for premieres this summer. “Married” stars Nat Faxon and Judy Greer, while “You're the Worst” features Aya Cash and Chris Geere. That duo joins eight current comedies on FX and FXX's roster, including “Archer,” “Chozen,” “Legit,” “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The League,” “Wilfred” and “Legit.” [FX conspicuously makes no mention of “Anger Management” and “St. George” when celebrating its comedy lineup.]

But that's not all when it comes to comedy development at FX Networks. There are a whopping six comedies in various stages at this point, some with some big names. There's “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll” from Denis Leary, an united comedy starring Zach Galifianakis and produced by Louis C.K., the Charlie Kaufman-created “How and Why,” with Sally Hawkins recently joining John Hawkes and Michael Cera. There's also “Man Seeking Woman” with Jay Baruchel, Tracy Morgan's “Do or Die” and the animated “Bigfoot” from Seth Rogen.

Intrigued by Billy Crystal's return to TV? Excited by Josh Gad's latest small-screen venture?