TV Writing Isn’t as Easy as It Looks

Nor is it always fun.

Alan Kirschenbaum by himself, on Instagram

PASSINGS: Alan Kirschenbaum (L.A. Times)

Alan Kirschenbaum, a TV producer and comedy writer who worked on shows including ‘Raising Hope,’ ‘My Name is Earl’ and ‘Yes, Dear,’ dies at 51.

Alan Kirschenbaum, 51, a television producer and comedy writer who worked on such shows as“Raising Hope,”“My Name is Earl” and “Yes, Dear,” which he co-created, was found dead Friday at his Burbank home.

Early reports indicate he may have committed suicide, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. No other details were released. An autopsy is pending.

CBS, where Kirschenbaum had a new show in production, said in a statement it was “stunned and devastated” by his death and called him “a gifted and successful” comedy writer and producer.

The son of Borscht Belt comic Freddie Roman, Kirschenbaum entered the television business in the late 1980s. His first major success was writing for the NBC sitcom “Dear John,” which starred Judd Hirsch as a divorced dad. It was broadcast from 1988 to 1992.

With writer Greg Garcia he later created “Yes, Dear,” a comedy about two couples with radically different parenting styles. Despite critics’ predictions that it would be a flop, it became the second-highest-rated new network comedy when it debuted on CBS in 2000. It ran for six seasons.

Known as a first-rate show runner, Kirschenbaum served as executive producer on the shows “Stark Raving Mad” and “Center of the Universe.” He directed episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond”and was the head writer for “Coach” for three seasons. He was also a consulting producer on “Raising Hope” and wrote several episodes.

His most recent project was a comedy in production at CBS called “Friend Me” about a social media start-up. He was co-creator and executive producer.

Born in New York on April 19, 1961, Kirschenbaum grew up among Catskills comics who were friends of his father. However, he did not initially consider following his father into the entertainment business. He earned a degree in marketing at the University of Pennsylvania and struggled for three years as a racehorse trainer at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

When he found it too difficult to make a living in harness racing, he tried writing spec scripts, which led him to Hollywood in 1988. After experiencing some success, he resumed his passion for harness racing and owned a number of horses.

He was married to actress Vicki Juditz, with whom he had a daughter, Molly.

Times staff reports

TVWriter™’s condelences to Alan’s family and friends.

Sitcom Showrunners Expound on the Future

…And they sure as hell know a lot more than most TV execs!

The Future of Sitcoms According to the Creators of ‘Parks and Rec,’ ‘Enlightened,’ ‘Don’t Trust the B—’ and ‘Raising Hope’ – by Alison Willmore

Greg Garcia (the creator and executive producer of Fox’s “Raising Hope”), Nahnatchka Khan (the creator and executive producer of ABC’s “Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23”), Michael Schur (the co-creator of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”) and Mike White (the co-creator, co-star and executive producer of HBO’s “Enlightened”) gathered in Manhattan this past weekend for a New Yorker Festival event entitled “The Future of Sitcoms.” While the panel did not, as jokingly promised by moderator Emily Nussbaum, the magazine’s TV critic, come up with a plan for the next stage of comedy during its 90-minute run, it did cover some very interesting ground about how sitcoms are evolving in a way that may be quieter but is no less significant than what’s happening with dramas. Here are some highlights from the event:

Storytelling is getting more sophisticated. When working on his 2004 Fox series “Cracking Up,” the single-camera aesthetic was “still in its infancy,” according to Mike White, and “networks were extremely prescriptive about how it should look and feel.” White said he feels it’s since changed and opened up considerably. That said, it doesn’t mean that everyone’s ready to come along for the ride — as Garcia pointed out, “the shows that get the biggest ratings aren’t doing anything new” and that the definition for success is “what will make the most money for networks in syndication.” But Khan was hopeful, saying that what’s important is that these ideas are “percolating” and that “change takes time” — “what’s considered a hit now” is different, she said.

Everyone’s in awe of “Louie.” Louis C.K.’s FX show was brought up several times as something to admire. “Among writers, that’s the number one thing we talk about,” said Schur, while Khan called out the episode “Dad,” in which a long sequence was dedicated to Louie running away from his father, as “fantastic to me” — “It’s so raw. I find it refreshing. For me, that’s hopefully where comedy is going.” But they admitted the show wasn’t for everyone, and that it wasn’t something everyone could pull off. Garcia acknowledged that “some members of the audience could find it offputting,” and Schur cautioned about claiming the show heralds a new era: “To do what he does, you have to be as funny as Louis C.K. — and that narrows the field down to one person… It’s hasty to say everything’s different because of Louis C.K.”

Read it all

Suddenly, We Want to See This Episode of RAISING HOPE

Good publicity does work. Keep sending us stuff, guys!

Keck’s Exclusives First Look: Raising Hope Books Mom-Daughter Duo – by William Keck (TV Guide)

Five decades after The Birds almost pecked her to death, Tippi Hedren ends up in a casket on the October 2 season premiere of Raising Hope. Hedren plays Sabrina’s recently deceased and filthy rich Nana (she appears alive in a videotaped message). Added bonus: Hedren’s daughter, Melanie Griffith, plays Sabrina’s narcissistic mom, Tamara.

“Nana said exactly what she was thinking and didn’t care what people thought,” reveals Hedren. “My first appearance is in a coffin at my funeral. To make sure people see her properly, she prearranged for her coffin to be placed next to the buffet.” Hilarity ensues when Cloris Leachman‘s Maw Maw decides to switch dresses with Nana’s corpse. “It’s one of the funniest things you’ll ever see,” says Hedren.

But seeing her mom in a casket reminded Griffith of when The Birds director Alfred Hitchcock gave her a wax replica doll of Hedren in a box. “I remember he was really big and fat and [the present] was weird,” recalls Griffith, who was less spooked this time. “When I walked on set and gave my mother a kiss in the coffin, she said, ‘Don’t worry, honey, you won’t have to do this to me. I want you to cremate me and scatter me over our ranch.”

Tippi Hedren? Melanie Griffith? Cloris Leachman? We haven’t followed this series at all, but Cloris swapping clothes with Tippi’s corpse definitely works for us. (And it could only have come from the overheated brain of a writer