Judd Apatow: Everything He’s Done Is Revenge for Canceling ‘Freaks and Geeks’

judd apatow roseanne barr
Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media

All those who have spent the past few years complaining about Judd Apatow movies — about the length or the plotlines or that they’re all about shlubby guys getting attractive girls or that they’re nothing but pot jokes — all those people can take it up with the circa 2000 NBC executives who pulled the plug on “Freaks and Geeks,” the beloved, yet low-rated, teen angst dramedy he executive produced with creator Paul Feig that helped launch the careers of Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and many others.

“Even to this day, I think I didn’t want to admit that ‘Freaks and Geeks’ was cancelled,” Apatow said March 10 at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. “Everything I’ve done, in a way, is revenge for the people who cancelled ‘Freaks and Geeks.’ It’s really demented, but it’s just like ‘you were wrong about that person, and that person and that person. And that writer and that director.’ And I really should get over that.”

Apatow, who still frequently works with that same core people from that show, was speaking in a Q&A with Entertainment Weekly’s Dan Snierson in front of an intimate crowd of friends and colleagues like Garry Shandling (who hired him as a writer on “The Larry Sanders Show”), Jenni Konner (who works with him on “Girls” and whom Apatow hired for another short-lived cult show, “Undeclared”) and Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann, and daughter Iris. Before the show, he could be seen taking selfies with Ed Begley Jr., who appeared on “Larry Sanders” and also in the film “Pineapple Express,” which Apatow helped pen.

Apatow received the 2014 PaleyFest Icon Award, which recognizes individual creative achievements in television. The event also kicked off PaleyFest, the Center’s annual tribute to the medium with weeks of panels focused on past and current programs.

“I am, like, so proud that I’m the person who’s getting the credit for discovering Judd,” said Roseanne Barr, one of Apatow’s former bosses.

“I like what you do because you can weave a story so well and with such sensitivity, it’s so touching,” Barr said before the Q&A. “It’s just very humanistic and plus, pee-your-pants funny.”

Although Apatow is an executive producer on “Girls,” most of his writing and directing time is now spent in film. Will he ever return to TV?

“TV is so much work, it’s crazy,” Apatow said. “It’s so much harder than movies — a thousand times harder than movies. We’re about to do our fourth season [of “Girls”] and I’ve never been a part of something that’s gone that far. And it’s wonderful to imagine how they grow up.”

Apatow did say that he loves “The Americans” and (perhaps?) joked about remaking Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Until then, he’ll just have to settle for “The Simpsons,” which is producing a version of a spec script he wrote of the Fox sitcom when he was still a struggling writer. He said they rewrote most of it.

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  1. It showed that acting is not about looks and it gave a window of opportunity for different looking actors to get a job. Except for Christopher Mintz Pintz. Whatever his names is. He is the worst actor ever. I guess he has money because he has no diversity. Anyone could of done Mclovin! Seriously he must have a good agent. I will challenge him to a act off anytime or place!

  2. You are correct!! I love Freaks and Geeks. I can not believe that show was cancelled. It left me hanging when he found out his Dentist Dad was having an affair. A great show. Bring it Back!!

  3. DC says:

    Good for him. “Freaks and Geeks” was a great show, and revenge and bitterness can create great art.

  4. Apatow is cool.

    Comedy is the hardest of the arts to master, Apatow has done it. His films are spectacular benchmarks in the genre.

  5. Not a fan says:

    I liked Freaks and Geeks. I also like Girls. That is the sum total of anything that I have ever appreciated that has been produced by this naval gazing incestuous lover of “cringe comedy.” Make a movie star out of Martin Starr and I will believe you have talent.

  6. Robbie Goldstein says:

    It’s absolutely nauseating that this guy gets the accolades he gets. His work is on the whole primitive crap. Not modern day crap but primitive gorilla stomping the ground crap. To still be on his portable podium complaining about a show like “freaks and geeks” being canceled, please. Get the hell over yourself.
    The combined movies that you and your so called discoveries have made will be forgotten in two generations of young adults. What have you given to the art of cinema that should remain forever? That is my criteria for art and comedy. Remembering the great stuff and uncloging the depository of crap that a person like you tries to fill.

    • Jacob says:

      I highly doubt that films like Superbad, Pineapple Express, or Forgetting Sarah Marshall will be forgotten so quickly. The same could have been said about John Hughes in the ’80s, but even though I wasn’t even a twinkle in my father’s eye when his movies were made, I absolutely love movies like The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Take your own advice and get the hell over yourself, please. Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill especially, and Jason Segel are here to stay. Jonah Hill got his start with Judd Apatow and now has been nominated for an Oscar twice. Apatow has been involved with classics such as Anchorman, The 40-Year-old Virgin, and Talladega Nights. Go ahead and name off some better comedies that have been produced by more than one or two directors in the past decade or so. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

    • Brett says:

      “What have you given to the art of cinema that should remain forever? That is my criteria for art and comedy.”

      It’s your right to believe that, just keep in mind no respected artist today agrees with you.

    • Tannen says:

      And what have you done for the genres of art and comedy, Robbie Goldstein? Anything that would make someone take you more seriously than some guy who is complaining as if he is talking directly to Judd Apatow via a news article?

    • Griff says:

      Define Pretentious

    • Georges says:

      Apatow’s films and the actors he has worked with over the years will be forgotten in time unlike the enduring and much celebrated online comment on a Variety magazine story penned by one Robbie Goldstein on the 11th of March, 2014.

      • James Brazil says:

        your comment has deeply impacted my life and I shall carry the memory of our passing forever more. May Galactus bless you Robbie, may Galactus bless your sole.

    • Soy says:

      You sound like you’re a blast at parties.

    • Dan Marino says:

      Wow, who know not breast feeding a baby would cause this.

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