Good­night, Garry

Garry Shan­dling, co­me­dian who ose in­flu­en­tial ca­reer spanned decades, died last Thu urs­day at 66.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SHOWBIZ - By SCOTT COLLINS Photo: reuters

GARRY Shan­dling, who died of a heart at­tack last Thurs­day at age 66, was among a gen­er­a­tion of comics who helped rev­o­lu­tionise TV com­edy by cast­ing aside the setup- punch­line me­chan­ics of the tra­di­tional net­work sit­com and ex­plor­ing char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion more deeply.

Like his con­tem­po­rary David Let­ter­man, Shan­dling had lit­tle pa­tience for show busi­ness con­ven­tions, which he found wor­thy of ridicule. Un­like Let­ter­man, he never earned the brass ring of his own net­work talk show, even though he was a fre­quent guest host on The Tonight Show and was at one time, along with Let­ter­man and Joan Rivers, a lead­ing con­tender to re­place Johnny Carson, who re­tired in 1992. That job ul­ti­mately went to Jay Leno.

In­stead, Shan­dling reached his great­est ca­reer pin­na­cle as Larry San­ders, a fake host of a fic­tional talk show who was caught in an awk­ward, pas­sive- ag­gres­sive dance with ev­ery­one in his sphere, in­clud­ing his on- air side­kick Hank “Hey Now” Kings­ley ( Jef­frey Tam­bor). The Larry San­ders Show, which aired on HBO from 1992 to 1998, pushed the bound­aries by fea­tur­ing real celebri­ties in some­times less- than- flat­ter­ing cameos ( of­ten dis­cussing real projects), hav­ing Shan­dling di­rectly ad­dress the au­di­ence and re­fer not- so- sub­tly to his own prob­lems, and – es­pe­cially con­tro­ver­sial at the time – do­ing away with a laugh track.

Such fea­tures are now com­mon­place in re­cent sit­coms such as The Of­fice, 30 Rock, and Mod­ern Fam­ily, but they were ground break­ing at the time, with Larry San­ders win­ning nu­mer­ous awards, in­clud­ing three Prime­time Em­mys.

Shan­dling died Thurs­day in Los An­ge­les af­ter be­ing rushed to the hospital af­ter an un­spec­i­fied med­i­cal emer­gency, ac­cord­ing to the Los An­ge­les Police Depart­ment. Shan­dling never mar­ried and ap­peared to have no close sur­vivors.

Per­haps be­cause he was a self- de­scribed neu­rotic him­self, Shan­dling was sen­si­tive about satiris­ing peo­ple in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, first on his late- 1980s Showtime se­ries It’s Garry Shan­dling’s Show and then on Larry San­ders.

“It’s an ex­tremely del­i­cate process be­cause no one wants to be made fun of, and I try to be re­ally pro­tec­tive of that,” Shan­dling ex­plained to the Los An­ge­les Times in 1995, speak­ing of Larry San­ders. “I do not think this is a mean- spir­ited show in any way. There’s a level of satire in which, if one gets it, then they’re will­ing to play with that. This show al­lows an op­por­tu­nity for some peo­ple to play them­selves in a way that they haven’t been able to do be­fore.”

Af­ter Larry San­ders wrapped up, Shan­dling be­came an in- de­mand em­cee, host­ing the Em­mys in 2000 and 2004. But his ca­reer suf­fered in later years. An at­tempt to break out as a lead­ing movie star in the 2000 fan­tasy What Planet Are You From? fiz­zled with crit­ics and au­di­ences. TV roles grew scarce.

He had en­dured a pub­lic fall­ing- out with his one- time man­ager, Brad Grey, now the pow­er­ful chief of Para­mount Pic­tures. Shan­dling claimed that he had been the tar­get of a “smear cam­paign” di­rected by Grey and pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor Anthony Pel­li­cano af­ter a se­ries of busi­ness dis­agree­ments. Shan­dling tes­ti­fied in 2008 at Pel­li­cano’s trial for wire­tap­ping and con­spir­acy; Grey de­nied Shan­dling’s charges of a se­cret cam­paign.

Shan­dling was born Nov 29, 1949. When he was young, his par­ents, who ran small busi­nesses, moved the fam­ily from Chicago to Ari­zona to seek treat­ment for Garry’s older brother Barry, who suf­fered from cys­tic fi­bro­sis. Barry died at age 10.

Shan­dling moved to Los An­ge­les in the early 1970s to pur­sue a ca­reer in com­edy writ­ing. He started out writ­ing ad copy be­fore even­tu­ally land­ing staff writ­ing jobs on sit­coms such as San­ford And Son and Wel­come Back, Kot­ter.

Af­ter a se­ri­ous car ac­ci­dent in Bev­erly Hills when he was 27, Shan­dling de­cided to fo­cus on build­ing a ca­reer as a stand- up co­me­dian. He landed gigs at the Com­edy Store in LA and cul­ti­vated a stage per­sona that played up his real- life neu­roses.

He booked a cov­eted spot on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1981 and be­came a reg­u­lar guest on the show. Carson, whose favour was highly soug ght af­ter by young comics, tapped him as a per­ma­nent guest host un­til 1987.

By 1986, he h had cre­ated his own sit­com for Showtime, It’s Garry Shan­dling’s Show. The se­ries, co- cre­ated by Alan Zweibel, ran un­til 1990.

More re­cently, Shan­dling joined Jerry Se­in­feld on his Web se­ries Co­me­di­ans In Cars Get­ting Cof­fee in an episode this sea­son with the eerily fore­bod­ing ti­tle It’s Great That Garry Shan­dling Is Still Alive.

In the episode, the com­edy pals tour their old stomp­ing grounds of the Com­edy Store, and talk about their ca­reer pat ths. Dur­ing their drive, Shan­dling men­tioned he had a hy­per parathy­roid gland what was un­di­ag­nosed be­cause, as Shan­dling put it, “the symp­toms mir­ror the ex­act same symp­toms an older Jewish man would have. Which is, you know, lethar­gic,, you get puffy, you get heavy, you kind of feel like you want a di­vorce but you’re think­ing you’re not mar­ried.”

The pair also chat about deaths, par­tic­u­larly those of fel­low co­me­di­ans Robin Wil­liams and David Bren­ner, and th he legacy of their work. Shan­dling said ma­te­rial “is purely a ve­hi­clee for you to ex­press your spirit. And your soul, and your be­ing” be­fore ex­press­ing in his droll way what he’d want his end to be like.

“What I want at my fu­neral is an ac­tual box­ing ref­eree to do a count. And at five, just wave it off and say, ‘ He’s not get­ting up,’” Shan­dling joked. – Los Ang geles Times/ Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Garry Shan­dling 1950- 2016

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