How did the producers of FX’s comedy The League spent their recent hiatus? Praying that there will be a football season as their show revolves around a fantasy football league and working on a contingency plan in case the NFL and the players didn’t come to deal. “Plan B revolved around the guys losing their minds,” co-creator Jeff Schaffer said during a TCA panel for the show today. “Poor Andre (Paul Scheer) would’ve put all of his heart and soul into Fantasy NBA,” a reference to another professional sport whose season is in jeopardy. “The truth is … we prayed that there would be football, we desperately, desperately wanted there to be football, and we waited. And we waited and waited. FX was cool with us pushing our shooting date and the airdate so that we could make sure (there will be a football season).” With the labor dispute resolved just recently, the series is now so early in production on Season 3 that some of the footage in the promo reel shown was shot last night, Schaffer said. The uncertainty surrounding the NFL season over the past few months will be reflected on the show. “The lockout will be addressed front and center in the Oct. 6 season premiere — along with all of their opinions about it,” said co-creator Jackie Marcus Schaffer. The premiere also will feature Seth Rogen playing Rafi’s (Jason Mantzoukas) much-talked-about (but never seen) infamous friend Dirty Randy.
Paramount Pictures has released an early image of Sacha Baron Cohen as The Dictator, the comedy in which he plays the dual roles of a ruthless dictator who heads to the U.S. for a meeting at the United Nations and finds that his number two has replaced him with an unsuspecting sheepherder lookalike. As the dictator wanders the city, he meets the owner of an organic food store (Anna Faris) who gives him a different perspective on the idea of oppression. Baron Cohen’s Borat and Bruno director Larry Charles is helming, and Paramount has set a May 11, 2012 worldwide release date. Scripted by former Seinfeld scribes Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel, The Dictator is being produced by Scott Rudin, Baron Cohen and the scribes.
I saw a report that claimed Baron Cohen was playing Saddam Hussein, a bit of confusion because the filmmakers have said the film was inspired by Zabibh and The King, which was written by the late Iraqi strongman. But that’s a misnomer and I think Baron Cohen’s hairstyle is more Seinfeld’s Kramer than Hussein.
FX has picked comedy series The League for a third season with a 13-episode order. In first-run, Season 2 of The League averaged 1.4 million total viewers and 1.1 million Adults 18-49, up +4% and +5% vs. season one, respectively. “We love the show, and the reaction the cast received across the country during their recent comedy tour is a sign the show is really building momentum,” FX’s EVP Nick Grad said.
Set against the backdrop of a fantasy football league, the FX Prods.-produced The League is about friendship, marriage, parenting, and growing up…or refusing to grow up. It was created by the husband-and-wife team of Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer who serve as executive producers and directors. The ensemble cast features Mark Duplass, Stephen Rannazzisi, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Katie Aselton and Jon Lajoie.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadine’s TCA coverage.
Six episodes. Twenty days. That was the decidedly accelerated time frame of shooting last year on the FX fantasy football comedy The League, admitted co-creator Jeff Schaffer at a panel promoting the show’s second season premiere (it has 13 episodes this time) in September. But his wife and collaborator, Jackie Schaffer, added that when it comes to the numbers, the two are much more attuned to the production schedule than the ratings, “We’d try to figure out the ratings by reading the faces of the people at FX, or their tone of voice when they’d call us on Friday morning. That seemed to work for us.”
It worked well enough to get the series renewed despite the incredulous reactions Jeff Schaffer would get when he told people he produced a series about fantasy league football — and a partially-scripted, semi-improvised one at that. “There are shows about people who bake cakes and shows about people who drive trucks on icy roads,” said Schaffer, who is also a writer-producer on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. “I don’t know anyone who drives a truck in the Yukon, but I know a lot of guys who play fantasy football — me included.” In order to appreciate his show, Schaffer reasons, “you don’t need to know anything about fantasy football or even sports. You just need to have friends you hate.”
Jackie Schaffer said she believes one of the factors that generated an audience for The League and stoked its …