FX just announced it’s bringing Billy Crystal back to primetime TV, as star of The Comedians, which has received an initial order of 13 episodes for its first season, to debut in 2015.
Crystal plays a version of himself, essentially — “a superstar veteran comedian” — paired up with a younger comedian, played by Josh Gad, on a fictional late-night sketch comedy show.
Crystal broke through in a breakthrough role on TV playing “Jodie Dallas,” network TV’s first openly gay character in ABC’s soap opera parody, Soap, in the late 1970s, and also starred for one memorable season of late-night sketch comedy on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Since then, you’ve known him more for starring in movies or for hosting the Academy Awards to honor them.
Stephnie Weir, Matt Oberg and Megan Ferguson co-star. Weir has plenty of real-life on-air sketch comedy experience, as a cast member on MADtv from 2000-2006. Oberg and Ferguson both recently had arcs on The CW’s Hart of Dixie; Oberg, a house performer at The PIT in NYC, also had on-air runs in both of The Onion‘s TV news and sports parody series, and is regularly seen in national commercial campaigns.
On The Comedians, Weir plays the show’s producer; Oberg, the head writer; and Ferguson, a production assistant.
So if you were missing 30 Rock and wondered, what if it were darker and on cable, now’s your chance to see if your fan fiction comes to life.
FX’s Nick Grad said in making the announcement: “We’re incredibly excited about The Comedians and the fact that Billy Crystal will be making his return to series television on FX. 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.”
The Larry, Matt and Ben to whom Grad was referring are Larry Charles (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld), Matt Nix (Burn Notice), and Ben Wexler (Community, Arrested Development), the writers and executive producers of the series with Crystal. Charles directed the pilot. Josh Gad is serving as Producer.
The Comedians will be a half-hour single-cam sitcom, produced by FOX Television Studios.
Fox Television Studios President David Madden said: “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.”
The Comedians is based on a Swedish format of the same title from Stockholm-based Efti AB, whose Carl Molinder and John Nordling also executive produce. Mikkel Bondesen and Henrik Bastin also serve as Executive Producers, with Kristen Campo serving as Co-Executive Producer, via their production company Fabrik Entertainment (Burn Notice, The Killing), which is also producing the project.