New York -- Garry Shandling couldn't resist making his
usual wisecracks about cable last week, when he bade goodbye to The Larry Sanders Show,
but the comedian said he would be eager to do another project with Home Box Office.
"I'd be happy to do anything in the future on
HBO," Shandling said, following a press screening last Wednesday of the star-studded
final episode of Larry Sanders.
"I've got an idea for a very funny
astronaut," he quipped.
At the screening, attended by about 50 TV critics and
reporters, Shandling was asked about plans to syndicate Larry Sanders. The
hour-long last episode aired this past Sunday.
"There are many different options," he said. But
there is no home yet in syndication for the award-winning program, which debuted on HBO in
August 1992 and which had a six-season run.
The show's distributor, Columbia TriStar Television
Distribution, "has not started the process" of selling the program, according to
a company spokesman.
"There is an afterlife for the show," the
However, one industry source said Columbia TriStar tried to
sell Larry Sanders into syndication some time ago, and it didn't get the
response or hefty price that it was looking for. And right now, Shandling owns a piece of
the show, and he only wants it syndicated on HBO, so the program is off the market,
according to the source.
The off-color language that marked Larry Sanders --
which chronicled an insecure talk-show host's travails, and which was a send-up of
Hollywood's foibles -- would make it a likely candidate for a cable network, but not
for broadcast TV. Shandling noted that at one point, two versions of the show were being
shot, with one meant to be a cleaned-up version for syndication. But that effort
didn't really work because Shandling said his co-star, Rip Torn, "would end up
changing the 'c' word to the 'f' word."
Torn and fellow Larry Sanders regular Jeffrey Tambor
-- sitting on a re-creation of the Larry Sanders set -- accompanied Shandling at
the screening of the final episode.
The finale boasts guest stars such as Jerry Seinfeld, David
Duchovny, Warren Beatty, Sean Penn, Ellen DeGeneres, Tim Allen, Carol Burnett, Jim Carrey,
Greg Kinnear and Clint Black.
Art was, in fact, imitating life, since the final Larry
Sanders episode was about the last episode of the fictional talk show, as Shandling
HBO chairman Jeff Bewkes said he was "confident"
that HBO would be doing another show with Shandling, whose Larry Sanders won 20
CableACE awards and one Peabody, but brought home only one Emmy -- won by Torn, for best
supporting actor in a comedy.
Shandling joked that Larry Sanders' main
competition was The Weather Channel and The 700 Club.
"I make fun of cable because I'm a comedian, and
that's what I do," he said. "But there would not have been a place for this
show were it not for HBO."