George Carlin: HBO Teams with Judd Apatow for Documentary on Comedian

Judd Apatow will front a two-part documentary for HBO on George Carlin, one of the most influential comedians in the 20th century. It seemed fitting the actor/comedian's life story to be told on the network he helped make relevant. The director will produce the documentary through his company Apatow Productions alongside UK outfit Rise Films, according to Deadline Hollywood. HBO Documentary Films commissioned Apatow and his longtime collaborator Michael Bonfiglio to direct the two-parter, which will feature interviews with Carlin's family and friends, material from his standup specials and TV appearances, as well as material from his personal archive. The comedian was born in New York City in 1937 gaining early notoriety for his early appearances on the talk show circuit and his work with Jack Burns. A watershed moment arrived for the comedian came when he saw Lenny Bruce perform and subsequently arrested for obscenity.

George Carlin: HBO Teams with Judd Apatow for Documentary on Comedian
George Carlin in his HBO stand-up special Life is Worth Losing (2005). Image courtesy of WarnerMedia

Carlin started to reinvent himself, growing out his hair and embrace counterculture incorporating his observations along with his edgier and more raunchy tone to his act. Aside from his frequent appearances on The Tonight Show (more than 130), his act also caught the attention of the premium network HBO. He ended up creating 14 stand-up specials throughout his career until his death in 2008. His material often consisted of pointing out linguistic and cultural hypocrisies from silly idioms, policy to politics within his social commentary. Like Bruce, he ended up in similar legal ramifications as his mentor. The FCC v Pacifica Supreme Court case stemmed from Carlin's infamous "The Seven Dirty Words" bit. Carlin admitted once he doesn't have "pet peeves". He has "major psychotic f***ing hatreds."

Carlin's takes and observations allowed him to take more mainstream work. To start, he was the first host of NBC's Saturday Night Live.  The roles he took weren't always roles based on his material. For example, he was cast as Rufus in the first two Bill & Ted films Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bogus Journey (1991). Along with stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, he also reprised the role for the first season of the franchise's animated series. The one-time Catholic became a staunch atheist only to play a Catholic cardinal in Kevin Smith's Dogma (1999). To top that off, he also hosted the children's programming franchises Thomas & Friends and Shining Time Station throughout the 90s.

George Carlin: HBO Teams with Judd Apatow for Documentary on Comedian
George Carlin as Rufus in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989). Image courtesy of Orion Pictures

"The sting of his words is as sharp now as when he was on stage," Teddy Leifer, executive producer with Rise Films said. "Carlin is the comedian's comedian who mastered his craft and shaped American counterculture such that he paved the way for a generation of comics that followed." George's daughter Kelly Carlin said she dreamt of finding the right people to tell her father's story through a documentary that "honors his work while not shying away from his personal struggles and humanity." George suffered substance abuse problems throughout his life, which ended up costing him professionally at one point on the stand-up circuit prior to one of his rehab stints. Apatow, Leifer, Kelly Carlin, and Jerry Hamza (a long-time collaborator) will executive produce the unnamed George Carlin documentary.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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