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HBO Exec Says Garry Shandling Showed Artists the Way

In the wake of HBO’s 10th-year-in-a-row dominance of the Primetime Emmy Awards, Financial Times columnist Peter Aspden has put together an erudite reminder of what we all owe the TV network that is “not TV.”

Aspden got to sit down in New York with HBO co-president Richard Plepler. When he asked the perfect question of  when the executive realized his network was attempting something different than the then-primetime norm, Plepler gave this full-credit reply:

He points to an unlikely harbinger: The Larry Sanders Show. First broadcast in 1992, Garry Shandling’s foul-mouthed and devastating deconstruction of the TV chat show, in which celebrities parodied themselves, put out an important signal, says Plepler.

“It was the tipping point. That was the show that made people notice we were doing something original and distinctive. Garry sent a flare up to the creative community, which said, ‘You can paint here, and you will be seen.’”

Fittingly, Shandling shared a trio of Sanders-like observations this past weekend about the Emmys on his Facebook page. FishbowlLA’s favorite: “Never ceases to amaze me how the Emmy trophy girls get no mention in reviews or post-articles. Without them there’d be nothing to hold up.”

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