Rob Schneider is returning to series television, this time on his own terms. In a endeavor he hopes “shakes up Hollywood”, the actor-comedian is self-financing and starring in an eight-episode independently produced comedy series he co-wrote with his wife, Mexican writer-producer Patricia Azarcoya Schneider, who will co-star on the show, and his friend, comedian Jamie Lissow. “I want to do my own Fawlty Towers,” said Rob Schneider, referring to the popular British sitcom, which John Cleese co-wrote and starred in with his then-wife Connie Booth. Like his 2012 comedy Rob on CBS, where his wife was played by a professional actress, the new show will be loosely based on Schneider’s life. But the similarities end there. Rob, which is the subject of a joke in the pilot of the new series, was a traditional multi-camera, multi-generational sitcom about a guy, his Mexican wife and his in-laws. As the title of the new series, Real Rob, indicates, it is a more honest portrayal of “an exaggerated version of my life,” Schneider said. “I’m not afraid to expose aspects of my life; this is close to the bone.” The single-camera, documentary-style half-hour is edgier, geared to cable networks. It centers on Rob, playing a version of himself, his Mexican wife Patricia, also playing herself, Rob’s incompetent assistant whom he cannot fire because he is his friend, and Rob’s personal stalker. The narrative is punctuated by Schneider doing stand-up bits in the vein of FX’s Louie and the early years of Seinfeld. The Schneiders and Lissow have written all eight scripts. Casting of the remaining roles is underway with filming slated to begin March 3 in Los Angeles (exteriors) and Florida’s Full Sail University studio facilities (interiors).
As an independent production, Real Rob is being made for less than a network show by keeping costs down. “The biggest expense on Rob was Rob Schneider, and we managed to cut that cost down to zero,” quipped Schneider, who is not getting paid for his services. To mount a series production without the backing of a studio, the Schneiders have relied on help from friends. Schneider is footing most of the bill as “the majority shareholder on the show” — “I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” he said — but he also has silent financial partners. Also helping out are veteran casting director and former Disney head of casting Marcia Ross, who is doing the casting, and Mexican cinematographer Carlos Hidalgo Valdes, who is behind the camera.