Grumpy old man stars in first Twit­com

Son re­vives Hol­ly­wood ca­reer by tweet­ing his dad’s pearls of wis­dom, writes ARCHIE BLAND

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

FIRST Hol­ly­wood bought up com­puter games to har­vest them for script ideas. Then agents started to search for blog­gers keen to make the leap to tele­vised en­ter­tain­ment. And now Twit­ter has made the same land­mark cul­tural jump, in the form of a sit­com based on 140-char­ac­ter mis­sives from a cur­mud­geonly fa­ther.

It might seem that “sh*t my dad says”, a hugely pop­u­lar feed that reprises the bil­ious high­lights of one hang­dog old man’s world­view, would be a lit­tle thin on ma­te­rial –there are only 73 tweets in the ac­count.

But the mes­sages have gained hun­dreds of thou­sands of fol­low­ers whose en­thu­si­asm has been enough to con­vince the US net­work CBS that the con­cept could sus­tain a prime time show, to be pro­duced by the team be­hind Will and Grace.

The Twit­ter feed is the brain­child of Justin Halpern, a writer liv­ing with his par­ents in San Diego. En­cour­aged by friends who were amused by his peev­ish dad’s sense of hu­mour, he be­gan to post high­lights of 73-year-old Sam’s re­marks.

They largely con­sist of com­plaints and ad­vice on top­ics rang­ing from the idio­syn­cra­sies of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy to the va­garies of his diet.

“I didn’t live to be 73 years old so I could eat kale,” the first post reads, pre­sum­ably re­fer­ring to the frus­tra­tions of liv­ing with his 29-year-old son.

In an­other post, he ex­claims:

Top tweets

● The baby will talk when he talks, re­lax. It ain’t like he knows the cure for can­cer and he just ain’t spit­ting it out. ● Oh please, you prac­ti­cally in­vented lazy. Peo­ple should have to call you and ask for the rights to lazy be­fore they use it. ● That woman was sexy… Out of your league? Son. Let women fig­ure out why they won’t screw you, don’t do it for them. ● Re­mem­ber how you used to make fun of me for be­ing bald? No, I’m not gonna make a joke. I’ll let your mir­ror do that. ● You’re like a tor­nado of bullsh*t right now. We’ll talk again af­ter your bullsh*t dies out over some­one else’s house. ● Just pay the park­ing ticket. Don’t be so out­raged. You’re not a free­dom fighter in the civil rights move­ment. You dou­ble parked. ● I’m sit­ting in one of those TGI Fri­day’s places, and every­one looks like they want to shove a shot­gun in their mouth. ● Son, no one gives a sh*t about all the things your cell­phone does. You didn’t in­vent it, you just bought it. Any­body can do that. ● Why would I want to live to 100? I’m 73 and it’s start­ing to get bor­ing. By the way, there’s no money left when I go, just fyi. “How should I know if it’s still good? Eat it. You get sick, it wasn’t good. You peo­ple, you think I got mi­cro­scopic eyes.”

The first Twit­ter-based sit­com show­cases how the in­stan­ta­neous so­cial net­work is rapidly mov­ing from the tech-savvy fringes to the main­stream. The site’s grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity has made suc­cess­ful feeds prime tar­gets for agents looking for re­li­able in­di­ca­tors that an idea has the nec­es­sary res­o­nance with view­ers.

But Halpern Jr, who also has a book deal with HarperCollins, re­mains be­mused by the ru­n­away suc­cess of his brain­child, which has gone from a stand­ing start on Au­gust 3 to nearly 800 000 fol­low­ers.

“I hon­estly didn’t think any­one but the five peo­ple I sent it to who knew my dad would find it funny,” he said.

For Sam Halpern, who is deeply sus­pi­cious of the in­ter­net and keeps his own com­puter off­line, it has all come as some­thing of a sur­prise.

Justin ini­tially kept his post­ings a se­cret, but when he was of­fered a book deal, he re­alised he would have to come clean. To his re­lief, Sam – an in­tensely pri­vate man – saw the funny side, warned he would do no in­ter­views, and de­manded help find­ing his cell­phone.

Justin will be a writer and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on the show. The suc­cess of his project has of­fered a baf­fling route back to a ca­reer he had all but given up on. A pre­vi­ous stint in Hol­ly­wood, try­ing to get a script of his own pro­duced, ended in tears.

“It’s ironic to think that I busted my ass try­ing to get my own writ­ing out there, and what has been suc­cess­ful for me is some­thing I didn’t even write.”

Even so, his fa­ther has in­sisted that he will take no money from the pop­u­lar­ity of his mis­er­able out­look.

“Some­times life leaves a $100 bill,” the old man says. “You don’t re­alise un­til later that it’s be­cause it f***ed you.” – The In­de­pen­dent

SPEC­TA­TOR SPORTS: Justin Halpern, right, and his fa­ther, Sa­muel Halpern at­tend a base­ball match with Justin’s friend Brad Lamers, sit­ting in the mid­dle. PIC­TURE: LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES

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