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Better Late Than Never: Final Notes from TCA Press Tour
January 22, 2015  | By David Bianculli

PASADENA, CA – Sunday’s FX portion of the Television Critics Association press tour was top-tier all the way: Billy Crystal, Louis C.K. and Denis Leary all showed up, touting their respective impressive FX series…

And even though, as I finish writing and posting this, it’s now Thursday – hey, it’s been that kind of a week. And it still is that kind of a week, so please, cut me some slack. Here we go:

Crystal’s new FX series, The Comedians, stars him and Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon, Frozen) as exaggerated versions of themselves, paired as co-stars in a new FX comedy series. It launches April 9, immediately after the Season 5 premiere of Louis C.K.’s Louie. Leary’s new series, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, launches this summer, teaming him and John Corbett (Northern Exposure, Sex and the City) as former members of a once-hot rock band.

Louis C.K. said he envisioned the upcoming Season 5 of Louie as “probably more ‘laugh-centric’ funny than Season 4,” though he made it clear he had no problem at all with the idea of mixing comedy and drama.

“I just love telling these stories,” he explained. “And I think throughout last season, there were moments I felt really funny, and there were moments that were very dramatic.

“My favorite work that I see in TV and movies has both. Like to me, most comedy movies that are comedies don’t make me laugh as much. But movies like, reaching back pretty far, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, are hilarious movies – but they’re very dark, and they’re considered dramas, I guess. But those things make me laugh… So I guess I don’t want to put it in either box.”

Billy Crystal’s new series, based on a sitcom from Sweden pairing a vintage comic with a younger version, is a concept to which Crystal responded immediately – and which, as he and his fellow producers have developed The Comedians, falls in line with what Crystal sees as the common thread of his career as a comic.

“It’s got to be smart,” Crystal told the assembled TV critics. “I’ve never, I don’t think, done stupid stuff, even though some of you may think I have. But I’ve always aspired to do intelligent comedy – and this is as smart as it gets, for many moments in the show. So that’s what I require – and to work with top people.”

And Denis Leary, on his new show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, plays the former member of a rock band. Another member is played by John Corbett, of Northern Exposure and FX’s Lucky, whom Leary said he was extremely lucky to get.

“First of all, finding a handsome guy – is he handsome!” Leary said, pointing out that the character Corbett plays has to be older but still very matinee-idol attractive. “And can he do comedy, drama, improvise, and play the guitar and sing?” Leary added, rattling off all the other requirements of the role.

“Yeah, they’re f--king hanging out around the corner, all those actors.”

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