Billy Crystal to star in FX comedy pilot ‘The Comedians’

Nearly 30 years since his one season on “Saturday Night Live,” Billy Crystal is returning to television, as star and producer of a comedy pilot for FX called “The Comedians.”

The series, based on a Swedish show, will star Crystal as a famous comedy veteran who’s forced to work with a younger, edgier comedian for a late-night sketch show. Crystal will write and produce along with an eclectic mix of TV veterans: “Seinfeld” alum Larry Charles (who will also direct the pilot), “Burn Notice” creator Matt Nix, and sitcom veteran Ben Wexler, who worked with Nix on the short-lived comic cop show “The Good Guys.”

If this gets picked up, it’ll be Crystal’s first regular TV gig since he was part of a cast of ringers on “SNL” (along with Martin Short, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and others) in the 1984-85 season (check below for a clip of his signature character, Fernando, interviewing Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, because it was the mid-’80s). And before that, Crystal first hit it big playing Jodie Dallas – one of the first gay characters on American television – on ABC’s “Soap” from 1977-1981. He’s been on TV frequently in the decades since, most notably as nine-time host of the Academy Awards.

Now that FX is launching a spin-off channel, FXX, that will feature several current FX comedies, the mothership will need to repopulate itself a bit. “The Comedians” could be one way to do that.