1 9 9 2 – 1 9 9 8 (USA)
89 x 30 minute episodes
After the success of the innovative It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, Shandling became a popular replacement host of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and was once in the running to take the place of David Letterman.
The experience gave the comedian the idea for a sitcom based on the late-night chat show concept, in which he was cast as the host of such a show.
Created by Shandling and Dennis Klein, the show featured Jeffrey Tambor as Sanders’ sidekick, Hank Kingsley (whose catchphrase “Hey, now!” caught on big in the US); Rip Torn as devious producer-cum-protective manager Artie; Megan Gallagher as Sanders’ wife, Jeannie; Janeane Garofalo as Paula, the show’s talent booker; Penny Johnson as Larry’s personal assistant, Beverly; Jeremy Piven and Wallace Langham as writers Jerry and Phil; Kathryn Harrold as Larry’s ex-wife, Francine; Bob Odenkirk as Larry’s agent Stevie Grant; and Linda Doucett as Hank’s personal assistant Darlene (who was later replaced by Scott Thompson as Hank’s new gay assistant, Brian).
The show was split between on- and off-air action. On the air, the programme (shot on videotape and filmed in front of a live studio audience) played like a real-life chat show, featuring genuine celebrity guests such as Roseanne Barr, Carol Burnett, Sharon Stone, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal (pictured below), Peter Falk and Elvis Costello.
The behind-the-scenes segments of the show (shot on film) revealed the backroom bickering and cynicism behind making such a show and became well known for the use of salty language.
Sanders himself was a perfectionist and smarmily self-absorbed. His confident, generous on-screen persona contrasted with his insecure, demanding real personality.