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Status of Showtime Series Unclear After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death

The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman is a big blow to Showtime’s new series roster for 2014. The actor was to take on his first TV series role in the pay cabler’s comedy “Happyish,” which was developed through Hoffman’s Cooper’s Town Productions banner.

Hoffman was to have played a 40-something man working for a Facebook-like company who is frustrated by feeling out of touch while surrounded by younger colleagues.

Showtime gave the project a 10-episode order last month for a planned premiere later this year.

Production had not yet started on “Happyish,” which shot its half-hour single-camera pilot in September. Creator-exec producer Shalom Auslander and his writing staff have been working on scripts for the series but filming has not yet begun. Hoffman was an exec producer. Kathryn Hahn and Rhys Ifans were set as costars.

The project gestated at Showtime for more than a year. Entertainment prez David Nevins had been eager to get a project going with Hoffman, given his skills as an actor. His cachet with film fans also made him a good fit with Showtime’s target upscale demo.

Hoffman had clearly hoped to make a mark in TV, as his Cooper’s Town banner had been active in fielding TV projects that he helped shepherd as an exec producer, including a drama for FX, “Inside.”

Hoffman had also committed to star in a drama for HBO, “Upstate,” about a man who moves to a rural town to work for a private prison. The project was developed in 2011 but never got past the script stage.
Hoffman’s most substantial TV role was costarring opposite Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Ed Harris in the 2005 HBO miniseries “Empire Falls,” which earned him a supporting actor Emmy nomination.

Showtime execs were reeling Sunday from the news of Hoffman’s death and would not comment on the fate of “Happyish.” They have, however, released a statement regarding his death.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of our generation’s finest and most brilliant actors. He was also a gifted comedic talent. It was a great privilege and pleasure to work with him and we are all absolutely devastated by this sudden loss. Our thoughts go out to his family at this very difficult time,” Showtime said.

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