Sunday, June 17, 2007

How to succeed in show business without really changing, take two

So, as I mentioned Wednesday, I decided to turn the Judd Apatow idea into a full-blown column, and Judd was cool enough to hop on the phone with me on a few hour's notice.

For more than a decade in television, Judd Apatow's work defined noble failure. The people who actually watched the shows he wrote and produced -- including "The Ben Stiller Show," "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared" -- became obsessed with them, and still speak of them in hushed tones implying a religious experience. But the ratings were never good and most of his shows died after a single season.

Now he's the movie business's King of Comedy, the man with the golden funny bone, writer/director of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up" and producer of more than a half-dozen other comedies set to come out over the next year and a half. The words "Judd" and "Apatow" may be the easiest way to get a movie greenlit at the moment.

So what changed? What is Apatow doing differently as the man who gave you Steve Carell's chest-waxing and Katherine Heigl's full-frontal baby delivery than he did as the poster boy for

Maybe nothing.

"I learned a lot from the TV work," Apatow says by phone while driving from meeting to meeting, "but I'm basically trying to do the same thing."

To read the full thing, click here. Meanwhile, my "Freaks and Geeks" DVDs have been located and are allegedly in transit to my home, so hopefully I'll be able to start blogging on that soon.


dark tyler said...

Excellent idea re: Freaks and Geeks, by the way. I plan on doing the same thing; this is a perfect opportunity to finally watch this show for the first time.

Anonymous said...

I just want to mention that the trailers for "Superbad" had me in hysterics.

Carl said...

Great article except one glaring error -- Jason Segel's character in Knocked up is Jason, not Ben (Seth Rogan's character), which means he does not have sex with Katherine Heigel's pregnant character. He does hit on her married-with-kids older sister with just as much comedy involved.

Alan Sepinwall said...

D'oh! Really, this is no one's fault but my own, but I'm choosing to blame this one on Apatow for continually hiring so many Semitic "Freaks and Geeks" alums whose last names end with a "G-E-consonant" syllable. Yeah, that's it...

Anonymous said...

F&G is the only TV DVD set I own (the rest I see on Netflix) and it's worth many repeated viewings. I grew up in the same area of Michigan in the early 80's, and they reproduce that experience with remarkable accuracy. I just finished watching the entire series yet again, and look forward to your blogs. Great idea! Sure beats a Pirate Master blog.
~Katie V