Matt LeBlanc pokes fun at himself in TV comeback

Tue Jan 4, 2011 8:39am EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - What did it take to get "Friends" star Matt LeBlanc back on television after a four years absence? The price of a lunch with "Friends" co-creator David Crane, and the chance to make fun -- of himself.

Riffing on the beloved but dimwitted, skirt-chasing character Joey Tribbiani he played for 12 years on "Friends" and its spin-off "Joey", a gray-haired LeBlanc stars as an outrageous version of himself in the new TV industry satire "Episodes," which debuts this Sunday, January 9.

"We took him for lunch and he totally got on board. He liked the idea of poking fun at his own image, and he liked the idea of not carrying the show, but of being in an ensemble," said Crane, who created "Episodes" with Jeffrey Klarik.

LeBlanc, 43, plays Matt LeBlanc -- an actor who collects fine art, owns a private jet, a flashy car, and whose enormous "package" is the size of a "sea creature".

He is foisted on a pair of successful British comedy writers lured to Hollywood for a U.S. remake of their hit U.K. program about a scholarly English school principal. Under pressure from U.S. network bosses, the role is changed to hockey coach and the TV show renamed "Pucks!"

"Episodes", a co-production with Britain's BBC television, makes it debut on U.S. cable channel Showtime, and on the BBC on Jan 10. It also stars British actors Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig as the writers whose TV show is destroyed.

"I've said no to everything over the last four years. I didn't want to go back to work," LeBlanc said in a statement.

"I went on this rocket ride (of TV fame) starting in 1994 and ending in 2006, and I wanted to let the dust settle from everything that happened in those 12 years. But then the phone rang, and it was Jeffrey and David," he said.   Continued...

<p>Matt LeBlanc accepts the award for favorite male TV star for his role in NBC's "Joey," during the 31st annual People's Choice Awards at the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, California January 9, 2005. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>