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Garry Shandling (born November 29, 1949) is an Americanmarker comedian, actor and writer. He is best known for his work in It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show.

Shandling began his career writing for sitcoms such as Sanford and Son, and Welcome Back, Kotter. He made a successful stand-up performance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and became a frequent guest-host on the show. Shandling was for a time considered to be the leading contender to be Carson's eventual replacement (other hopefuls were Joan Rivers, David Letterman and David Brenner). In 1986 he created the show It's Garry Shandling's Show for the pay cable channel Showtime, which was nominated for four Emmy Awards (including one for Shandling); it lasted until 1990. His second show, "The Larry Sanders Show," began airing on HBO on 1992, and was a bigger success than his first show. Shandling was nominated for 18 Emmy Awards on the show and won one in 1998 for writing the series finale, along with Peter Tolan.

Through his three decade career, he has been nominated for 19 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations, two Golden Globe Award nominations, 11 CableACE Awards, a BAFTA Award, three American Comedy Awards, two Writers' Guild of America Award nominations, and two Satellite Award nominations.

Early life and career

Shandling was born in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker, the son of Muriel, a pet store proprietor, and Irving Shandling, a print shop owner. He grew up in Tucson, Arizonamarker and had an older brother, Barry, who died from cystic fibrosis when Garry was 10. Shandling attended Palo Verde High Schoolmarker. After graduation, he attended the University of Arizonamarker, at first majoring in electrical engineering, but eventually completing a degree in marketing and pursuing a year of post-graduate studies in creative writing.

In 1973, Shandling moved to Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker, and made contact with comedian George Carlin after catching one of his shows. He worked at an advertising agency for a time, and then sold a script for the popular NBC sitcom Sanford and Son. Shandling's script became the November 21, 1975 episode titled "Sanford and the Rising Son," in which Ah Chew (played by Pat Morita) turned junk-yard owner Fred Sanford's house into a Japanese restaurant. In addition to "Sanford and Son," Shandling wrote scripts, for the sitcoms Welcome Back, Kotter and Three's Company.

In 1977, Shandling was involved in an auto accident in Beverly Hillsmarker that left him in critical condition for weeks. He later turned the accident into part of his stand-up comedy act.

Although born into a Jewish family, Shandling has been a practicing Buddhist since the 80's in association with Thich Nhat Hanh.

Stand-up comedy

In an interview, he said that he became a stand-up comedian because he was frustrated by situation comedy's formulaic writing. In 1978, Shandling performed his first stand-up routine at the Comedy Storemarker in Los Angeles. His persona was that of an anxiety-ridden, grimacing, guarded, confused man who seemed always on the verge of losing control. After a couple of years on the road, a talent scout from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson caught his act and booked him to appear as a guest host on March 18, 1981. Shandling began substituting for Carson on a regular basis along with Joan Rivers until 1985.

In 1984, he made his first stand-up special, "Garry Shandling: Alone in Vegas," for Showtime, followed by a second televised special in 1986, "The Garry Shandling Show: 25th Anniversary Special," also for Showtime. In 1991, a third special, "Garry Shandling: Stand-Up," was part of the HBO Comedy Hour. They can be seen on You Tube and other Internet sites.

TV series

Early career

Shandling began as a television writer in shows such as Sanford and Son, in which he wrote three episodes, one episode of the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, and one episode of The Harvey Korman Show.

It's Garry Shandling's Show

Shandling and co-writer Alan Zweibel went on to create the surreal comedy series It's Garry Shandling's Show in 1985, which ran 72 episodes on the Showtime cable television network through 1990, with edited reruns playing on the Fox network beginning in 1988.

The series, a popular critical hit, became known for its Brechtian use of what is known in theater as "breaking the fourth wall", a concept in which characters turn away from the action and comment directly on the proceedings or make asides to the audience. While Groucho Marx was a pioneer of the technique in the 1930s movie Animal Crackers, and television had occasionally broken the fourth wall since at least the 1950s TV series starring Ernie Kovacs and the team of George Burns and Gracie Allen, and sporadically afterward, Shandling's series employed the idea as a central concept, and influenced such future wall-breaking series as Malcolm In The Middle, The Bernie Mac Show and the UK's Sean's Show.

Shandling wrote 15 episodes on the show. The show was nominated for four Emmy awards, one time for Shandling. He won the American Comedy Awards for Funniest Male Performance in a Series, and won four Cable ACE awards, two for Best Comedy Series, and another two for Shandling. It also won a Outstanding Achievement in Comedy in the Television Critics Association Awards.

On October 20, 2009, Shout! Factory released It's Garry Shandling's Show: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. The 16-disc set features extensive bonus features including featurettes, commentaries & outtakes.

The Larry Sanders Show

In 1992, Shandling had another critical and commercial success creating the mock behind-the-scenes talk show sitcom The Larry Sanders Show, which ran 89 episodes through 1998 on the cable network HBO, garnering 56 Emmy Award nominations and three wins. In an interview, he stated that he based the show on his experiences guest hosting the The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

In 1993, NBC offered Shandling $5 million to take over the late-night comedic talk show Late Night when host David Letterman announced his highly publicized move to CBS, but Shandling declined. The Larry Sanders Show later spoofed the network's efforts to find a Letterman successor, making it appear to be Tom Snyder.

Shandling wrote 38 episodes of the show and directed three in the show's final season and has been nominated for 18 Emmy Awards for the show; five for acting, seven for writing and six for being co-executive producer with Brad Grey. He only won one Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for the series finale Flip. He has also been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in 1994 and 1995. He won two American Comedy Awards for Funniest Male Performance in a Comedy Series, Eight CableACE awards and a BAFTA Award.

It is the most successful show Shandling has created. The show also influenced other shows to use the same concept of The Larry Sanders Show, in which guest stars play (often spoofing) themselves in episodes of the series. These include Entourage, Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

In 2002, TV Guide named The Larry Sanders Show as 38th Greatest Show of All Time. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly ranked the show the 28th Best Show of the past 25 years. It was also included on Time Magazine's 100 Greatest Shows of All Time.

The first season was released in 2007 along with a Not Just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show which are Shandling's pick of the best 23 episodes.

Awards and nominations

Shandling has been nominated for nineteen Primetime Emmy Awards through 1988 and 1998 by his two sitcoms, It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show and has won one time: Outstanding Writing in Comedy Series for the series finale of The Larry Sanders Show. He has received five for acting in The Larry Sanders Show, six for producing The Larry Sanders Show and seven for writing on The Larry Sanders Show and one for writing for It's Garry Shandling's Show. Additionally, he has been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for acting on The Larry Sanders Show. He has also won two British Comedy Awards.

He has also been nominated for seven American Comedy Awards, two for It's Garry Shandling's Show and four for The Larry Sanders Show and one for hosting the Primetime Emmy Awards, winning one for It's Garry Shandling's Show and three for The Lary Sanders Show, overall of four wins. He has also won eleven CableACE Awards, seven for The Larry Sanders Show and four for It's Garry Shandling's Show. He has also won a BAFTA Award for The Larry Sanders Show. Also, he was nominated for two Writers' Guild of America Award for The Larry Sanders Show.

Other work

Shandling has appeared occasionally in movies, beginning with a cameo as dental patient Mr. Vertisey in The Night We Never Met. He played supporting roles in the 1994 films Love Affair and Mixed Nuts (a.k.a. Lifesavers), Dr. Dolittle (1998) as the voice of a live-action pigeon, the David Rabe play adaptation Hurlyburly (1998), and Trust the Man. He wrote and starred in director Mike Nichols' What Planet Are You From? (2000), and co-starred with Warren Beatty and others in Town & Country. Again voicing an animal, Shandling co-starred as Verne the turtle in the computer animated comic strip adaptation Over the Hedge (2006)

Shandling hosted the Grammy Awards from 1990 to 1995, and the Emmy Awards in 2000 and 2004. At the first Emmy hosting job, Shandling cracked up the audience by saying "I auditioned to play the Vice President on The West Wing, but they said 'No--too Jewish'", a reference to real-life Vice Presidential candidate Senator Joe Lieberman during the 2000 Presidential campaign.

In 2006, comedian Ricky Gervais interviewed Shandling for a British documentary citing him as a comic influence. The reviews of British TV critics were mixed – one Guardian reviewer described it as "the uneasiest interview ever", another as Gervais' most interesting but the general consensus was that it felt "awkward", a hallmark of both the artists' comedic styles.

Shandling starred as himself representing Fox Mulder alongside Téa Leoni as Dana Scully in The X-Files season 7 spoof episode "Hollywood A.D.".

Shandling, along with co-author David Rensin, wrote the book Confessions of a Late Night Talk Show Host: The Autobiography of Larry Sanders written in the voice of his alter ego, Larry Sanders.

In 2008, there were rumors that Shandling will be appearing in the next Iron Man movie, as Senator Stern. The rumors appear to be true and he will be appearing in the film. The trailer officially aired at the 2009 Comic-Con, and the movie will be released in May 2010.

In 2009, Shandling will return to the stand-up circuit.

Shandling (although not participating in the movie itself) went to the premiere of old Larry Sanders Show writer and friend Judd Apatow's new movie, Funny People.

Personal life

Shandling is unmarried and shares little about his personal life. He shared an apartment with girlfriend and Playboy model Linda Doucett from 1987 through 1994. When they broke up, she filed a lawsuit for sexual harassment. To promote "Not Just the Best of The Larry Sanders Show," he appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, where he explained that he plays a lot of basketball and has just started boxing. He was one of a few people to attend Farrah Fawcett's funeral. He has also mentioned on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson that he has a pet snake.

In popular culture

In the Butthole Surfers song "Revolution Part 2," Gibby Haynes sings a long chorus of Shandling's name interspersed with those of other famous actors.Butthole Surfers. "Revolution Part 2." Pioughd. Capitol Records, 1991. Haynes said that Shandling was "just one of those people who haunt me."



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