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‘Girls’ Is Not ‘Sex And The City’ Clone: TCA

By | Friday January 13, 2012 @ 2:25pm PST

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

Lena Dunham, writer/director/star of HBO’s new comedy series Girls, said she grew up on HBO’s Sex and the City and doesn’t see her show about 20-something single women in New York as a clone of the iconic HBO comedy. She said that the world of these confused 24-year-olds exists somewhere between Sex And The City and the wealthy teens of Gossip Girls and called her “girls” the generation who expected to move to New York and have a great boyfriend, great job and “an elegant shoe closet” like the Sex and the City women – but it didn’t happen.

Dunham, who used her own life as the story in her $25,000 breakout film Tiny Furniture, was joined on the panel by Girls executive producers Jenni Konner and Judd Apatow. Dunham and Konner said that Apatow is actually the sensitive one when it comes to racy jokes on the shows. If you think, “that hand job joke was Judd’s and that crying joke was Lena’s – flip it,” Dunham said.

Apatow seemed to have redeemed himself here for his past focus on “guy” stories. In fact one female questioner asked him “what women want.” Apatow joked that answering that question left him wide open to ending “my marriage and my career. We all just want to be happy.” But he couldn’t help adding, Apatow-style: “You wanna get laid.”

Apatow also evidenced his … Read More »

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Judd Apatow On ‘Bridesmaids’ Sequel And Cussing Out Jerry Lewis

By | Friday January 13, 2012 @ 12:47pm PST

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

At today’s TCA panel on HBO’s new series Girls, executive producer Judd Apatow — also producer of the hit movie Bridesmaids — said there would not be a Bridesmaids 2 until the time is right. “We’re still promoting Bridesmaids 1; when the fog clears, we’ll see if there is an idea worth doing,” he said. “People like to send up projects without thought.” (On Wednesday, Bridesmaids co-star Melissa McCarthy said at TCA that there are no plans to move forward with a sequel anyway without co-writer and co-star Kristen Wiig.) Apatow added that the motivation for making a sequel has to be “not just, you know, how much money we could make? That usually leads to Jaws 3D.”

Apatow also addressed the “fuck you” he dropped on Jerry Lewis last night during the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Lewis has been quoted as saying at a 1998 comedy festival that seeing women tell jokes “sets me back a bit,” adding “I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies into the world.” So during Apatow’s acceptance speech for Bridesmaids‘ best comedy win last night, the producer said: “Jerry Lewis once … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Five Year Engagement’

Universal’s The Five Year Engagement opens April 27, 2012 and stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt. It’s helmed by Nicholas Stoller, who directed Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Stoller and Segel co-wrote this one, and Judd Apatow and Rodney Rothman produced.

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HAMMOND: ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘Artist’, ‘Paris’ Try To Buck Oscar’s Prejudice Against Comedy; HFPA Says ‘The Help’ Is Not Funny

Pete Hammond

Dying is easy, comedy is hard. Someone said that, right?

Judging by the paltry number of “pure” comedies that have won Best Picture Oscars in the past, apparently the Academy doesn’t think it’s hard at all. But could this actually be the year comedy will once again get its due in the Best Picture race? Will we ever see another genuine laugher taken seriously? “It’s crazy when you see what these great comedy people do,” says Bridesmaids producer Judd Apatow. His film was a huge surprise summer hit and has one of the highest critics ratings on Rotten Tomatoes with 90% fresh reviews. That’s a lot better than many dramatic contenders that pundits take more seriously as true Oscar pictures. Broad, hit-’em-in-the-gut comedy is almost always dismissed.

Apatow told me he was really surprised when Bridesmaids started to become part of the awards conversation this year but now believes they have a shot, at least in some categories — although not daring to dream of Best Picture yet. “We’re very hopeful about Melissa McCarthy in supporting. (Co-writer and star) Kristen Wiig  should get recognition  too. It’s very hard to do what she does,” Apatow said, adding that he thought Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover (which Apatow did not produce) should have been recognized a couple of years ago for the “perfect supporting part” but was obviously overlooked.

Further proving disrespect for comedy in the Acad, Apatow himself was dissed even to become an Academy member until finally getting the invite in 2008. Considering the Academy’s usual reluctance to reward the genre, Wiig is shocked they are even in the hunt, but Bridesmaids is the only movie Universal is significantly campaigning this year. “It’s nuts,” she said. “Recently we were looking at our original draft and thinking the fact people are even talking about it in this way is very strange. But I think ultimately it’s about the story and characters. You have to care about them or you’re not going to care about the movie whether it is comedy or drama.”

Bridesmaids is also hoping for recognition as a Best Picture Comedy or Musical nominee in the Golden Globes, where it actually does have a realistic chance of making the cut (The Hangover actually won). Many have called for the Academy to institute separate categories to honor comedy, like the Globes have always done, but it has never flown.

It is not hard to see why.

Often there’s a very gray line between what constitutes a comedy in the first place.  The Hollywood Foreign Press lets studios determine which categories they want to be in but has final say. In other words, if a studio tries to squeeze J. Edgar into comedy because there is less competition, forget it. This year, there has been lots of discussion among distributors about what constitutes a comedy. Fox Searchlight initially debated whether to enter its George Clooney starrer The Descendants in the Comedy or Musical category because there are definite laughs, but the dramatic elements ruled the day and it is submitted as a drama. Same with Sony’s Moneyball, which had some TV ads with quotes calling it “hilarious.” In the end, it wasn’t that hilarious — it’s in drama.

On the other hand, DreamWorks officially submitted The Help in comedy or musical even though it has some very heavy dramatic moments. On Monday, an HFPA committee rejected it in comedy and determined it would compete as a drama, where it will go head-to-head with Disney/DreamWorks’ other big hopeful, War Horse (assuming both get nominated, as seems likely). It’s not surprising: At a recent event I attended, a lot of HFPA members were voicing concerns about having to judge The Help as a comedy. The film was indeed initially sold by Disney and DreamWorks with an emphasis on its lighter elements, and past Globe winners in the category such as Driving Miss Daisy were similar in tone. Still, that would have meant Viola Davis would compete in the Best Actress-Comedy or Musical category, and no matter how you slice it, her character — a civil rights-era maid — just wasn’t that funny. Other entries that remain in the category that border comedy and drama are Focus Features’ Beginners and Summit’s 50/50, both dealing with main characters with cancer; Paramount’s Young Adult; and The Weinstein Company’s My Week With Marilyn. But the placement seems logical, and their chances against stiff competition in the drama categories would be considerably lessened. Last year, Focus entered the dramedy The Kids Are All Right in the comedy categories and bagged Globes for both the picture and Annette Bening. Read More »

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Paul Feig Exits ‘Bridget Jones 3′; Universal Looking For Brit Director For January Start

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Working Title Films will need a new director for Bridget Jones 3, and I hear they want a Brit. Paul Feig has withdrawn after developing the most recent draft of the script with the intention to direct. I’m told that both sides agreed it didn’t work out and that maybe this is just a quintessential British comedy that needs a British sensibility. They will set a director soon as they are still slated to start production in January, with Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant all eager to return.

Feig has enough to keep him busy at Universal, where he just directed the sleeper hit Bridesmaids. He’s got two projects there including an untitled comedy that he’s writing to direct for producer Judd Apatow, with the hope that Jon Hamm will play a guy obsessed with a woman who’ll be played by Melissa McCarthy. That certainly puts much of the Bridesmaids team together, and it will have to do until the studio figures out a way to get moving on a Bridesmaids sequel after the first one grossed $286 million worldwide on a $32 million budget. Read More »

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Obama Steps Up 2012 Hollywood Fundraising

GOP Candidates Seeking Hollywood Help

“We were discussing the new season of Glee,” tweeted Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson about what he and President Obama said to one another last night at the Sunset Strip’s House of Blues. It’s where the actor emceed one of two Hollywood fundraisers for Obama’s re-election campaign Monday. According to a White House pool report, Obama greeted Ferguson, turned to the microphone, and said, “I was telling him that Michelle and the girls love them some Modern Family.” Some in the crowd chanted “Four more years”. Roughly 900 people paid ticket prices starting at $250 and as much as $10,000 (to secure a photo with the president).

The second fundraiser cost $17,900 for each of the 120 people in attendance at Melrose Avenue’s Fig & Olive restaurant. The private event’s co-hosts included Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, his longtime political adviser Andy Spahn, and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon. “I’m going to need your help, so don’t get tired on me now,” Obama was quoted by a pool report as telling showbiz attendees like Judd Apatow, Aaron Sorkin, Jamie Foxx, Jack Black, Eva Longoria, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, and Jon Landau (producer of Avatar and Titanic). “I urge some of you to watch the Republican debates,” Obama added.

Obama received a standing ovation from the industry types seated at round tables with white table linens. But news of the president’s impending Hollywood fundraising was punctuated by several media articles proclaiming that Tinseltown support for him had eroded greatly since 2008. Recently Democratic activists like Robert Redford, Matt Damon, and Michael Moore have criticized Obama’s inability to stay the liberal course. Katzenberg seemed to address that disappointment when he introduced Obama by saying, “We must keep fighting for him so he can keep fighting for us.” Katzenberg also noted, “I have a dependency on President Obama. He inherited a crashing economy and two wars and opponents who questioned if he was even born (in the U.S.). Yet he kept us moving forward. He was dealt adversity on all fronts, but he maintained his stature.” Read More »

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Universal Lands 7-Figure Pitch Deal For R-Rated Seth Rogen-Zac Efron Comedy

By | Friday July 22, 2011 @ 4:24pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After a feverish day-long bidding battle, I’m hearing that Universal Pictures is closing a 7-figure deal for an untitled comedy that will have Seth Rogen and Zac Efron attached to star. Rogen and Evan Goldberg will produce through their Point Grey Pictures banner. I’m told that this was an incredible deal that capitalized on the R-rated successes of the summer, and that beyond the 7-figures for writers Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, Rogen will be paid $8 million with a separate low seven-figure producing fee.

Several studios bid on the pitch that will be written by Cohen and O’Brien, who, like Rogen and Goldberg, are Judd Apatow proteges. Cohen and O’Brien will be executive producers. The pitch will be an R-rated comedy that has the tone of Old School. Rogen plays a regular guy who lives near an alpha male fraternity house. Efron is a member of the fraternity, whose raucous behavior wreaks havoc on the other guy’s family life. The scribes hatched the idea and brought it to Goldberg and it was packaged with Efron and Rogen. The bidding came down to Universal and New Line. Uni made Bridesmaids and New Line made Horrible Bosses, both of which were big R-rated hits. CAA and Alchemy Entertainment repped Efron, and CAA repped the writers. UTA and Principal repped Rogen and UTA repped Goldberg.

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Judd Apatow Bitchslaps Me Now That ‘Bridesmaids’ Knocks Off ‘Knocked Up’

By | Thursday June 30, 2011 @ 10:11pm PDT

Mea culpa, I took today off rather than suffer more of Universal’s humiliating slings and arrows inevitably directed at me. Because, thanks to matinee and pre-sale tickets, the studio’s Bridesmaids passed Knocked Up around noon as Judd Apatow’s biggest grossing film, not adjusted for inflation or higher ticket prices. Cume is over $148.769M and counting. Needless to say, Judd himself used the occasion to bitchslap me over my pre-release belief that the R-rated comedy featuring women burping and farting for our female amusement wouldn’t have an opening domestic weekend bigger than $13M, even $15M tops, before it actually debuted with $26.2M: “I am so delighted to confirm that I was right and you were wrong,” Apatow emailed me for posting here. “From now on when you say something which hurts me, I will remember to read your early Bridesmaid‘s opinions and predictions and that will soothe me.” Ouch!

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Does Paul Feig/Judd Apatow Comedy Have ‘Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy And Jon Hamm In Mind?

By | Wednesday June 15, 2011 @ 2:27pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: A little over a week ago, Deadline revealed that Universal Pictures had made a deal for another comedy that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig would write, helm and produce with Judd Apatow. There was no title and the plot was under wraps. I’ve learned a little bit more. The unconventional love story is about a guy who becomes obsessed with a woman. The template for the guy is Jon Hamm, and the gal is Melissa McCarthy. While I’m cautioned there are no negotiations and it is all very early, it makes perfect sense that both of these thesps will be courted to star in this Feig-directed comedy. Mad Men‘s Hamm played a fabulously insensitive douchebag playboy in Bridesmaids. As for Mike & Molly star McCarthy, she stole every scene she was in, no easy feat in that strong ensemble cast. If Universal and Apatow aren’t figuring out ways to build comedies around McCarthy, they’re crazy.

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‘Bridesmaids’ Duo Paul Feig And Judd Apatow At Altar On New Universal Comedy

By | Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 2:22pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: On the same week that the sleeper Bridesmaids crossed the $100 million domestic gross mark, Universal Pictures has just made a preemptive acquisition of an original comic pitch that will re-team its director, Paul Feig, with Bridesmaids producer Judd Apatow. Feig will write and direct  the untitled comedy, and produce it with Apatow. These guys go all the way back together to the Feig-created Freaks and Geeks.

Studio was keeping the log line under wraps, but it is an unconventional love story and is something Feig has been working on for awhile so it could happen in the near term.  Of course, when a movie performs the way that the Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo-scripted Bridesmaids has, they usually start talking sequel about now, so stay tuned. Feig’s also a prolific TV director, including Weeds, Nurse Jackie and The Office. Feig’s repped by CAA, Apatow by UTA and Mosaic.


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Snow White Battle Intensifies As Universal Moves Its Pic One Month Before Relativity Rival

Mike Fleming

BREAKING:Since neither Universal Pictures nor Relativity Media are blinking about going ahead with rival Snow White films, it seemed inevitable that Universal would not be content for its film to come out six months later. So the studio has just swapped release dates of Judd Apatow’s next untitled film (which was supposed to come out June 1), and has given that June 1, 2012 date to Snow White and the Huntsman. At present, Relativity Media’s film, The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, is dated for June 29, 2012 with shooting to begin in August. We’ll have to see whether Ryan Kavanaugh’s film division reconsiders. That Tarsem Singh-directed film stars Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer and Nathan Lane. The lesson of rival films about Truman Capote and In Cold Blood echoes loudly here. Capote came out first, won an Oscar for Philip Seymour Hoffman, and nobody cared when Infamous came out later. Being the second film on the same subject is perilous and when that prospect faced Baz Luhrmann and Dino De Laurentiis on their Alexander the Great movie because Oliver Stone beat them to the start gate, the project was scrapped.

Universal’s decision comes days after the studio finally set Thor star Chris Hemsworth as its Huntsman, which Deadline was the first to reveal would happen. He joins Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Sam Claflin in the Rupert Sanders-directed film. Apatow (who must be strutting after Bridesmaids defied expectations last … Read More »

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‘Animal Kingdom’ Matriarch Jacki Weaver Joins ‘Five Year Engagement’

By | Wednesday April 20, 2011 @ 11:44am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Oscar-nominated Animal Kingdom star Jacki Weaver to join the cast of Five Year Engagement, the Judd Apatow-produced comedy that stars Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Alison Brie, Chris Pratt, Rhys Ifans and Lauren Weedman. Nicholas Stoller is directing the script he wrote with Segel. The comedy charts the ups and downs of an engaged couple en route to the altar. Weaver’s repped by ICM and Elevate.

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Albert Brooks In Talks For Judd Apatow Pic

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Albert Brooks is negotiating to join the untitled comedy that Judd Apatow wrote and will direct for Universal Pictures. The film will star Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, who are reprising the roles they played in Knocked Up. I’m told that Brooks is in talks to play Rudd’s father in a film that will also feature Megan Fox. It’s an interesting pairing, Brooks and Apatow, because they are both writer/directors whose comedies have a very auteurish voice. Brooks most recently played a mobster you don’t want to cross in Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed adaptation of the James Sallis novel that stars Ryan Gosling.

Brooks also has a May publication date on 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, a novel that will be published by St. Martin’s Press. That book takes a serious look at what might happen in 20 years, when cancer has been eradicated and life expectancies have been pushed up to 110, rendering 70 the new middle age. Brooks is repped by WME and managed by Herb Nanas.

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SXSW Closes With Billy Bob Thornton’s Documentary On Willie Nelson

By | Wednesday March 2, 2011 @ 12:24pm PST
Mike Fleming

The South by Southwest Festival announced its closing night film will be the World Premiere of The King of Luck, a documentary about Willie Nelson that will be directed by Billy Bob Thornton. The film screens March 19. The fest will also show a work in progress screening of Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids, which was cowritten by Kristen Wiig and produced by Judd Apatow. (Deadline was not a fan of the movie’s first trailer.) Seeing Thornton back behind the camera is most intriguing. He hasn’t directed a film since 2001′s Daddy and Them, and before that helmed the underrated All the Pretty Horses. BBT has spent as much time singing as he has turning in performances in films like Bad Santa, but I’m sure he’s got another Sling Blade in him, so hopefully this signals the start of a trend with Thornton writing and directing features again. Mmmm, hmmm.

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‘Freaks & Geeks’/'Undeclared’ Reunion Highlights PaleyFest2011 Schedule

By | Thursday February 17, 2011 @ 11:27am PST
Nellie Andreeva

The Paley Center for Media announced the full schedule for this year’s William S. Paley TV Festival, which will take place March 4-17. The highlight is a Freaks & Geeks/Undeclared reunion moderated by Judd Apatow that will feature alums from the two cult series. Hot shows/perennial fan favorites The Walking Dead, True Blood, Glee, Supernatural and American Idol will hold panels. In an intriguing pairing, David E. Kelley is slated to moderate the panel for USA’s White Collar. Here is the schedule: Read More »

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TRAILER: ‘Bridesmaids’ (Produced By Judd Apatow Starring Unwatchable Kristen Wiig)

By | Wednesday February 2, 2011 @ 2:20pm PST

UPDATE: I am not alone in my opinion. I’ve just received confirmation that insiders have been complaining for weeks to Universal that this trailer is not funny and not representative of what they claim is a good comedy. Let’s see if the studio tries to improve on it. (And let’s not forget that Universal released The Dilemma trailer with the gay slur.)

PREVIOUS: The bomb factory known as Universal produces a trailer with not a single laugh in it. This is embarrassing. Set for a May 13th release.

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Judd Apatow Asked Twitter For PGA Jokes

By | Saturday January 22, 2011 @ 1:49pm PST

Judd Apatow is very nervous about hosting the Producers Guild Of America awards tonight and has been honing his stuff to make sure it’s funny. “I am very grateful to the people at the PGA for not broadcasting this ceremony,” he just told me by email. “I can only hope their security will be able to make sure all recordings are destroyed.” Apatow has been delivering progress reports via Twitter. ”I need to sleep because I am hosting the Producer’s Guild Awards Saturday. Rudin, Cameron, Hanks, Penn. Comedy crowd? Nightmares tonight for sure,” he tweeted last night. Apatow also issued an appeal to his Twitter followers and fans.  ”If anyone has any jokes that they think are better than Ricky Gervais’, post here and I will read the winners and say your name at PGA awards,” he tweeted. “Lots of #pgajokes coming in. Some excellent. Many insane. Most hateful of celebrities. Hard to be funny and not vicious. Steve Martin is king.” (Some of those sending in jokes thought PGA stood for the professional golfers association. Sheesh.) Here some of the good, the bad, and the ugly ones:

DamonLindelof - Hey Folks! Just flew in from a screening of Black Swan. And, boy, are my arms ready to masturbate, then stab, Mila Kunis.

MikeRylanderA producer and an actor walk into a bar. The actor gets recognized by hot chicks. The … Read More »

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TCA: Live From New York, It’s Pee-wee!

From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA coverage:

He’s baaaaaaack. Paul Reubens (best known by his nom de plume Pee-wee Herman) invaded Pasadena and HBO’s presentation at TCA Friday afternoon, presented live via satellite from New York to promote his forthcoming 90-minute special The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway that’s scheduled to debut in March. It represents the triumphant return of an iconic character once thought dead but that’s now survived for better than 30 years.

Pee-wee has returned not just as a stage show but with a movie in his future as well, with Judd Apatow attached to produce, as Reubens gleefully discussed in his character’s trademark gray suit and red bow tie. He rarely broke character during a sometime surrealistic 25-minute Q&A that found him often leaving the gathered critics laughing (albeit grudgingly) as he mugged more or less constantly.

Claiming to be sitting in a Howard Johnsons restaurant in New York, Herman/Reubens said he’s excited to see how much longevity Pee-wee has had and hopes to continue on playing him “30 years from now when I’m 140.” How is it that Pee-wee has been able to come back so successfully? “I don’t know,” he said. “Certain things just come back. It’s cyclical. I think I just waited long enough and all of the people seem to like it again I guess.”

The only time that Renbens was inspired to expound with seeming sincerity was when discussing the production style of … Read More »

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HBO Picks Up Lena Dunham Pilot To Series

Nellie Andreeva

13 years after the premiere of Sex and the City, HBO will launch another comedy about single girlfriends who are a decade younger than Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. The pay cable network has picked up to series Girls, Lena Dunham’s comedy pilot executive produced by Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner. The 24-year-old prodigy Dunham wrote, directed and starred in the pilot, about the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of three girlfriends in their early 20s: Hannah (Dunham), an eternal intern at a publishing house in SoHo and a hopeful writer; Marnie (Allison Williams), a sexy, bitchy and ambitious assistant at a slick political PR firm whose goal id to practice environmental law; and Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a space cadet with hippie tendencies who wants to be an artist/educator. The parallels with Sex and the City don’t stop here. Like Carrie, Hannah has a handsome carpenter as a boyfriend too, played by Adam Driver. Dunham, who served as co-executive producer on the pilot, is being upped to executive producer for the series alongside Apatow and Konner. She has been garnering awards attention for her second feature Tiny Furniture. Illene S. Landress is joining the project as a co-executive producer. The series marks the professional debut of Williams, daughter of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who booked the HBO … Read More »

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