Donny Deutsch on Donald Trump Circus: "Paddy Chayefsky Could Not Have Written This"

The TV personality spoke at TCA to promote his USA Network comedy 'Donny!,' which bows Nov. 10.
Scott Roth/Invision/AP
Donny Deutsch

Donny Deutsch has been a ubiquitous presence on TV since he participated in the first season of NBC’s The Apprentice in 2004. He’s hosted his own talk show (on CNBC), filled in for vacationing hosts on myriad others and has been a regular on NBC’s Today. And now, USA Network is letting him play himself in the new comedy Donny!, which bows Nov. 10.

The erstwhile ad exec and New York personality is known for his business smarts and raging ego. And USA programming chief Jackie de Crinis admitted that prior to taking the pitch meeting with Deutsch, many people warned her that he is "off-putting, arrogant and a little self-centered."

"And they weren’t wrong," she said, by way of an introduction for the question and answer session with Deutsch, co-star Emily Tarver and showrunner Angie Day at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. And then she added, "But he’s also, funny charming and intelligent."

Donny! revolves around Deutsch as a daytime talk show host; the show is filmed at his Upper East Side apartment, but the rest of the characters are fictional. And like The Larry Sanders Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm, the program is improvisational or "soft scripted," as Day explained.

Deutsch noted that Donny! is a "tremendous homage" to Sanders and Curb and added that starring in his own comedy is a dream come true. ("I feel like I’m getting to play center field for the New York Yankees.")

The pilot features guest star Christie Brinkley. And there will be plenty of other recognizable guest stars from Deutsch’s thick rolodex of contacts and friends including Regis Philbin, Al SharptonKathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.

And Deutsch added that if the show is renewed for season two, he’d work on getting his old friend and current GOP presidential aspirant Donald Trump to agree to a cameo. That is, "If Donald doesn’t get elected," he said.

And Deutsch predicted that "at the very least, he’s going to be a king maker ... If he runs as an Independent he’s going to hand it to the Democrats. He’s going to be a big factor in this [election] one way or another."

But Deutsch mused that Trump may not fully appreciate the roller coaster he’s launched himself on.

"I don’t know how much he’s thought it through. I know Donald well enough to know that he’s just going with it and having fun," said Deutsch. "Say what you want about the guy, he’s this incredible brand. He’s this enzyme right now and he wants attention, and of course he’s getting it. Paddy Chayefsky could not have written this."

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