PRESS TOUR: True stories that inspire Showtime's 'Episodes' to skewer the TV biz

Thursday, 16 January 2014 02:01 PM Written by 

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PASADENA, Calif. -- Showtime's "Episodes" returned Sunday for its third season -- see my review here -- and it's already been renewed for a fourth season, fantastic news for anyone who loves humor at the expense of the crazy TV business.

And it turns out, the show doesn't even include the craziest experiences because viewers would find them too unbelievable.

Read more after the jump. ...

I wrote earlier this month about how accurately "Episodes" spoofs the Television Critics Association press tours but it also zings executives in the TV business, from a network executive known for hugging to a humorless comedy executive.

But there's more. This season a new head of the network comes in and he seems certifiably crazy in ways that series co-creator Jeffrey Klarik drew from in his own career.

"I've worked for nutjobs before," he said. "I worked for a guy who kept a gun in his drawer. I mean, he’s the head of the show, head writer, and he had a gun in his drawer. And he kept all the curtains closed and he would call me in to have a talk and he’d put his head in my lap and cry."

As for crazy networks notes, Klarik recalled making a pilot about a girls' boarding school and one of the notes was, "Can we have a scene where the girls are in their nightgowns?" The girls were 14.

"And it was like that’s the note? That was the note? And you do it," said "Episodes" co-creator David Crane. "You judge. He did it. He was like, 'Well, that’s what they want so, yeah, all right.'"

Even today, the producers hear stories from friends who work in TV that seem unbelievable, including a friend who pitched a sitcom that was based on herself and her mother. Both were from India and it was about them coming to America.

"[The network] said, we love it and we're gonna buy, but can we just do away with the mother," Klarik recalled. "So she took the mother out. And then they said, what if she's not Indian, what is she's black? So she said, if that's what you want. Now the show is about three black guys raising a baby. True story!"

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