“Curb Your Enthusiasm” co-star Jeff Garlin and Phil Rosenthal are bringing back the variety show — sort of.
Pair have set up at TBS the series pilot “The Jeff Garlin Program,” which Garlin describes as a throwback to the Jack Benny-style variety hours in which the hosts play themselves.
Garlin will star, and he’ll exec produce alongside “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator-exec producer Rosenthal and 3 Arts manager David Miner. Garlin wrote the pilot with “Kicking & Screaming” scribes Steve Rudnick and Leo Benvenuti.
A cross between “Curb” and “The Larry Sanders Show,” the multicamera comedy kicks off in a show-within-a-show, with Garlin onstage opening his fictional variety skein. Pilot then flashes back to the week prior and the incidents that inspired that variety show episode — everything from a run-in with Garlin’s celeb friends to a dust-up with family members.
Garlin will play a version of himself — one that pals around with Justin Timberlake and Will Ferrell, lives next door to “neighbor-producer” Rosenthal (who will star in a recurring role) and runs into big-name comedians at the bank.
“I play Jeff Garlin, the biggest variety star on television, and pretty much the show follows me getting into trouble each week,” Garlin told Daily Variety. “This is the show I’ve wanted to do since I was little.”
Half-hour will be shot on a soundstage in front of a live audience. Production begins in March.
TBS has already ordered up a pair of scripted laffers — “My Boys” and “Boy’s Life” — that play to a Middle American female crowd and are compatible with the cabler’s portfolio of off-net sitcoms like “Raymond” and “Friends.”
TNT/TBS programming chief Michael Wright said that with “Jeff Garlin,” TBS is taking its first stab at the sketch/variety show genre.
“Jeff is an everyman and an accessible host who I think will appeal to that core group of women who watch TBS,” Wright said. “‘This is the first of a handful of shows we’re developing in the sketch area as we try to find a show that speaks to our audience, in the vein of a ‘Saturday Night Live’ or ‘Mr. Show.’ ”
Garlin most recently directed and stars in the indie feature “I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With,” opposite Sarah Silverman.