HBO television sitcom about Larry Sanders, a talk-show host. This show goes 'behind-the-scenes' to reveal Larry's humorous interactions with the producers and guests.Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
For years we've all heard the stories of behind the scenes powerplays, ego, contracts, manipulation etc. among the late night hosts and networks. Ever since Johnny "clicked" with American TV audiences on NBC we have watched a steady stream of after 11pm hosts of variety type shows. Post-Carson we have seen Jay, Dave, Conan, Arsenio, Pat Sajak, Chevy Chase, Craig Kilborn, Bob Costas, etc. vie for the late night dollars. A movie entitled "The Late Night Shift" was made depicting the infighting between Jay Leno's people and David Letterman's group to take over The Tonight Show when Johnny retired.
Now Gary Shandling and HBO have devised a character and show to weave between reality and fiction all in the form of Shandling's alter-ego Larry Sanders. Much like Billy Crystal's creation, Buddy Young Jr., Sanders has taken on a personna of his own. However, what Shandling and HBO have done takes it to new heights of excellence. The stories are witty, funny, provocative, and probably lend more truth to insights into show business then even the most skeptical of us could have imagined.
With an absolutely great supporting cast this show embodies the idea that comedy can be intellectual, cutting edge, and somewhat bitter sharp without excluding portions of the audience. Of special note the performance of Rip Torn, as Larry's veteran producer (Artie), is shear greatness. Torn has fashioned his character after Fred DeCordova who was Johnny Carson's Executive Producer.Artie "knows when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em". He knows when to f__k with the network and when not to and he insulates Larry from anything that would compromise Larry's ability to be on the edge for a great show. He loves Larry like a brother and loathes him for his insecurities, childishness, ego and all that Larry can be that's infuriating.
Jeffrey Tambor is terrific as Larry's Ed McMahon sidekick Hank Kingsley. A sniveling, insecure, limited talent based guy Kingsley is well paid and likes to throw around power. Trouble is his power base is Larry and those staffers that work on the show only do for Hank what they absolutely have to. Tambor plays this character to a tee!
With real celebrity guests poking fun at celebrity, TV, movies, and themselves at times the program almost seems to allow the entertainment industry to safely poke fun at itself in a somewhat scathing manner.
The show ended it's run about a year and a half ago but it replays on the HBO channels each week and is well worth the time to view.
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