March 13, 2011 9:00am PT by Philiana Ng
'Undeclared' Creator Judd Apatow: It Was a Weird Moment for Comedy
The cast of Undeclared, reliving its glory on the IFC Channel, hit the stage at PaleyFest on Saturday with moderator Judd Apatow -- and it was epic.
After a screening of Undeclared''s "Eric Visits Again," Apatow -- creator of the short-lived Fox half-hour college comedy -- began discussing the genesis of the series, which starred Jay Baruchel, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Carla Gallo, Monica Keena, Amy Poehler, David Krumholtz, Kyle Gass, Loudon Wainwright and Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam. (Wainwright and Hunnam were not present, but sent memorable video messages.)
Rogen spoke of the search for the series' lead, which ultimately went to Baruchel. "I think Jay tested against a guy from Real World," Rogen said to laughs. "I think his name was Colin ... from Hawaii."
Undeclared, which launched Sept. 25, 2001 and was supposed to debut right after 9/11, had trouble finding its footing -- and it wasn't just because of the state the world was in, though it certainly didn't help. Apatow noted in the session that it was one of the only single-camera shows on the television schedule at the time.
It was a "weird moment for comedy," Apatow recalled, and he and Rogen discussed in great detail the Sept. 11 issue of TV Guide magazine interview they did that published around that time.
Undeclared, which followed a bunch of freshmen as they experienced college life for the first time, had several notable guest stars, including Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell. (Apatow joked that you knew a series was over when Stiller was on because he always appeared at the end of a show's run.) Jon Favreau directed an episode as well entitled "Eric's POV.
The night was filled with jabs (all in good fun, of course) and Baruchel was the lucky subject during the session. "Your dream was to do well enough to buy a Ferrari," Apatow said to Baruchel at one point. And you "couldn't drive until you were 24," Rogen chimed in.
Segel, currently starring on CBS' How I Met Your Mother, joked that had he been cast in Baruchel's role, things might have been a tad bit better as a whole. "I kind of feel bad because I would have loved to do Jay's part, which would've been awesome for the show," he said with a laugh. (Segel was initially rejected for the lead role in Undeclared. "People didn't believe that I couldn't get laid," he said.)
Another fun tidbit, Poehler and cast member Timm Sharp, who has the upcoming HBO series Enlightened on tap, both got their teeth fixed after Undeclared finished.
Undeclared only produced 17 episodes and was an unofficial follow-up of sorts to Apatow and Paul Feig's high-school set Freaks and Geeks, which launched on NBC in 1999. One can only wonder how Undeclared (and Freaks and Geeks) would be faring in today's TV landscape.