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Small-screen buffs should turn on “The TV Set”

Anyone who’s interested in the TV development process should do themselves a favor and rent “The TV Set.”

Weaverset_2This often hilarious 2006 pic, from ThinkFilm, stars David Duchovny as a TV comedy writer. Directed and written by Jake Kasdan, the film is a dead-on portrayal of the meandering and often painful process a pilot goes through on its journey from script to small screen.

I watched it last week with three friends who all had some familiarity with the subject: a writer who’s had two pilots make it to series; an actor who’s auditioned for several pilots; and a TV/film producer.

Many folks who haven’t been through the process, or aren’t close to someone who has, might think the film is over-the-top, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. The film is so realistic that at some points my writer friend would say things like “They said that to me word-for-word.” And he was often able to predict the next line from the hapless director character (played by Willie Garson) or the Machiavellian network honcho (a brilliant spot-on performance from Sigourney Weaver, pictured above).

Duchovny is well-cast — and appropriately schlubby with a full beard — as Mike Klein, the scribe who grows increasingly agitated by the escalating ridiculous demands placed on him by the network. Brit thesp Ioan Gruffudd finds a nice balance with his role as the mid-level exec who’s well-intentioned but ultimately powerless against the network machine. Every character adds to the realism: the spineless manager (Judy Greer), the world-weary gaffer, the efficient assistant director that nobody listens to and the wet-behind-the-ears actors. (Pictured below: Greer, Duchovny, Garson)

Tvset_2The only scene that doesn’t ring true is the one where they screen the pilot for a test audience. “They’d never have anyone in that room over the age of 49,” my writer friend said.

You should have plenty of time to carve out an evening for this enjoyable pic — God knows the strike is quickly doing away with original scripted fare.

Kasdan’s John C. Reilly starrer “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” from Columbia Pictures, opens Dec. 21.

— Kathy Lyford

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