Variety chats with ‘Life and Times of Tim’ creator Steve Dildarian

Steve Dildarian, creator of “The Life and Times of Tim,” was as surprised as anyone else when his toon was given a second life on HBO on Monday. He chatted with On the Air about his sudden and unexpected good fortune. Tim

The decision to give toon comedy “Tim” a third season after it was canceled a few months ago is extremely rare. While some shows are given the ax and then picked up by another network, even more unusual is the series that is canceled and then brought back by the same network that let it go. And unlike “Jericho,” which needed a few tons of peanuts from an energized fan base to get CBS to consider a renewal, the “Tim” reversal was an inside job.

There were already fans of the show at the pay cabler, and when producer MRC couldn’t get much traction trying to sell “Tim” to a handful of nets — TBS, Comedy Central, Adult Swim among them — HBO decided to bring it back.

“I can tell that they loved the show up until they canceled it,” Dildarian laughed. “You could tell it was a hard decision. (HBO Entertainment president) Sue Naegle sounded genuine in her regret. It wasn’t like, ‘We hate this show and can’t wait to get it off our air.’”

When he first heard the news, Dildarian was, honestly, shocked.

“I felt like we were getting some traction and buzz and that it was moving forward. It caught me off guard, but you learn the business the hard way,” he explained. “Creatively, everyone was getting into it.”

What also was a surprise to Dildarian — and clearly a pleasant one — was the number of actors who asked if they could do voice-over work in season two. Alfred Molina, Aziz Ansari, Elliott Gould, Philip Baker Hall, Will Forte and a few others eventually sat in the Burbank recording studio and participated in a handful of episodes.

In comparing seasons one and two, Dildarian said he felt “the characters were more real” in the latest season, and “weren’t there to serve as a joke. They each could’ve had their own episodes.”

Clearly, The Boss, Amy and Stu wouldn’t mind kicking Tim to the curb so they could have their own 12 minutes to shine.

And now that they’ll all return — Dildarian said he’s going to have a schedule and budget together in the next few weeks — it’s just a matter of letting everyone know that “Tim” will be back to blunder some more.

So what are people saying when they check in to see if the show is really back from the dead?

“It’s not even a congratulations call,” Dildarian jokes. “It’s more like, ‘What the hell is going on?’”

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