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September 30, 2009

Matt LeBlanc to play sitcom actor in Showtime satire

Leblanc

Matt LeBlanc is re-teaming with "Friends" co-creator David Crane along with "Mad About You" co-producer Jeffrey Klarik for a new Showtime comedy that spoofs the TV business.

In "Episodes," a hit UK comedy is turned into dumbed-down American sitcom starring LeBlanc, playing a version of himself.

The plot best recalls NBC's struggle to adapt the UK series "Coupling," before the network successfully launched its own version of British favorite "The Office."

Showtime has ordered six half-hours of the single-camera comedy, which is a co-production between the network and BBC Two and will air sometime next year.

"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," said 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."

"Jeffrey and David have a great idea -- I love it," said Matt LeBlanc. "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."

Crane and Klarik also created "The Class" together and said they would mine their extensive Hollywood experience for the Showtime series. Jimmy Mulville will also serve as executive producer via Hat Trick productions ("The Kumars at No. 42"). 

Skewing show business has been the most popular genre of comedy programming for the premium cable networks, populated by shows such as HBO's "Entourage," "Extras," "The Comeback" (which starred "Friends" actress Lisa Kudrow) and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," as well as Showtime's "Fat Actress."

Here's the official logline for "Episodes":

When a successful British husband-and-wife comedy team are lured by Hollywood to produce a new version of their hit series for a stateside audience, they're initially thrilled at the prospects. But they soon realize what the American execs have in store for their precious show – including replacing the erudite British lead with the quintessential comedy star, Matt LeBlanc – and begin to sink deeper into the quicksand that is the TV business. Before long it's clear that not just the couple's show is at stake, but perhaps even their marriage.

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