Judd Apatow Memorializes Mentor, the Late Garry Shandling

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 24, 2018 | Go to article overview

Judd Apatow Memorializes Mentor, the Late Garry Shandling


Byline: Mark Kennedy AP Entertainment Writer

NEW YORK -- After Garry Shandling died two years ago, his longtime friend Judd Apatow went through emails he and the comedian had recently shared. Then he started bawling.

"I realized that every single time I asked him for anything or wanted him to come to some event or to read something for me, he said 'yes' every single time," said Apatow. "It really made me cry."

Shandling, a groundbreaking comedian not far from the neurotic characters he played, had dedicated his last years to consciously encourage and mentor his friends and fellow comedians but Apatow hadn't realized the full extent of his generosity.

"He had a lot of conflicts with people but he was also trying very hard to figure it all out so he could do better," he said. "He was a complete, complex human being with all the flaws and all the greatness as anybody else in the world."

Apatow decided to memorialize his friend in an appropriate way. Shandling, who masterminded a brand of phony docudrama with "The Larry Sanders Show," is now the subject of Apatow's four-hour HBO documentary called "The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling."

The film includes interviews with James L. Brooks, Linda Doucett, David Duchovny, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jay Leno, Kevin Nealon, Conan O'Brien, Bob Saget, Sarah Silverman and Jeffrey Tambor. The documentary airs in two parts on March 26-27.

While four hours sounds like a lot, Apatow goes deep, drawing on 30 years of Shandling's intimate diaries and notes, childhood movies, stand-up performances and raw footage. Michael Cera reads the diary entries, which show a man trying to quiet his demons. "You are scared of awakening. Let go of that," one entry reads.

"It was very difficult to sit down and read his diaries," said Apatow. "It was like living in Garry's head for a while. It was very emotional. I felt all his pain and his joy."

"The Larry Sanders Show" was the forerunner to a new kind of painfully awkward, authentic comedy that would inspire "The Office," ''Curb Your Enthusiasm," ''Arrested Development" and a generation of comics.

In the series, Shandling played an insecure and spineless late-night TV talk-show host with a regular habit of watching his show in bed at night. …

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