'Ben Stiller Show' Ripples and Reverberations

6:00 AM PST 10/25/2011 by Jay A. Fernandez

Much of the writing, directing, producing and performing talent that the then-27-year-old Stiller attracted to work on his shows went on to sustained careers in TV and film.

Before he was a $20 million movie star, Ben Stiller was an ambitious writer, director and producer creating his own material. After making a few popular comedy shorts and scoring a brief stint on Saturday Night Live, Stiller got his first major forums with the short-lived MTV sketch series The Ben Stiller Show in 1990 and a Fox version of the same name that ran for 13 episodes in 1992-93. After the second show was canceled, the writing staff, which included Judd Apatow, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, won an Emmy. Much of the writing, directing, producing and performing talent that the then-27-year-old Stiller attracted to work on the shows went on to sustained careers in TV and film that produced additional milestones in the genre.

Ben Stiller: Stiller wrote, directed, produced and performed on every episode. Later, he frequently gave cameos in the movies he directed to Stiller Show colleagues and often showed up uncredited in their TV and film projects.

Judd Apatow: The executive producer and one of the main writers of the Fox show, Apatow has forged a career that includes critically acclaimed TV series (The Larry Sanders ShowFreaks and Geeks) and successful films (Knocked Up). He produced Stiller's Cable Guy, and Stiller reciprocated with a cameo in Anchorman, which Apatow produced.

Robert Cohen: Cohen was an assistant on The Simpsons before he got a writing job on the Stiller Show. That gig led to work on the Academy Awards and MTV Movie Awards as well as writing and producing for American Dad! and The Big Bang Theory. Lately, he's been writing and directing for the HBO series Funny or Die Presents...

David Cross: A writer and performer on the series, Cross created Mr. Show With Bob and David with Odenkirk and worked with fellow Cable Guy bit player Jack Black on his Tenacious D series. He co-wrote and starred in Run Ronnie Ron, a collaboration with Odenkirk and Troy Miller, and turned up in Arrested Development and the Apatow-produced Year One.

Andy Dick: After performing on the Stiller Show, Dick starred in NewsRadio for five seasons and then created his own MTV series in 2001. Bizarre public behavior and an appearance on VH1's Sober House mixed with cameos in several Stiller movies.

Jim Ellis: A director and executive producer of the original show, Ellis didn't return for the Fox version. He went on to become a longtime executive producer of Law & Order and work on Degrassi: The Next GenerationSons of Tucson and Outsourced, among other series.

Brent Forrester: After his start writing for Stiller, Forrester hopped around to The Simpsons,Mr. ShowKing of the Hill and The Office, where he's been a writer and director. On the film side, he has the distinction of having written the 1996 bomb The Stupids.

John Fortenberry: The main director and supervising producer on the Fox series, he helmed Jury Duty and the SNL offshoot A Night at the Roxbury. On the TV side, he has directed everything from The Dana Carvey Show and Everybody Loves Raymond to Rescue Me and 2 Broke Girls.

Janeane Garofalo: One of the core writer-performers on the show, Garofalo did a stint on SNL before landing a role on The Larry Sanders Show. She later scored recurring parts on FelicityThe West Wing and 24 while appearing with Stiller in four films, including his directing debut, Reality Bites.

Dana Gould: A semi-regular performer on the show, Gould found scattered film and TV work until he became a regular on NBC's Working. He appeared in the films Mystery Men with Stiller and Garofalo, and Dumb and Dumberer, directed by Troy Miller. More recent gigs include producing The Simpsons and Parks and Recreation.

Bob Odenkirk: Before he was the slimy lawyer Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad, Odenkirk was a regular writer-performer on the Stiller Show. In between, he wrote for many seasons on SNL, co-created Mr. Show, wrote for Conan and acted on several series. He also directed a handful of features.

John F. O'Donohue: A regular performer on the show, O'Donohue picked up work in just about every TV series of the '90s (SeinfeldERNewsRadioEverybody Loves Raymond, Just Shoot Me!) before landing a regular role on NYPD Blue. Film roles were scarcer, but he did turn up in cameos in Reality Bites and The Cable Guy.

Jeff Kahn: The only player other than Stiller to work on both shows, Kahn was a writer, director, producer and performer who later worked as a producer on The Jim Breuer ShowDilbert and Drawn Together. He also turned up in cameos in Stiller and Apatow movies such as The Cable Guy and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Bruce Kirschbaum: Kirschbaum had started as a TV writer in the '70s, but after writing on the Fox series, he worked on SeinfeldEverybody Loves RaymondArli$$The Wayne Brady Show and many others.

Paul Miller: Miller already had directed for SNL and ALF when he joined the Stiller Show. He then jumped behind the camera for five seasons ofIn Living Color and numerous awards shows (Tonys, CMAs). He also has directed Comedy Central specials from Kevin James, Patton Oswalt and Wanda Sykes.

Troy Miller: A director on the Fox show, Miller went on to helm segments for the Oscars and MTV Movie Awards. He was an executive producer of The Flight of the Conchords and Bored to Death, and he co-wrote and directed Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd.

Dino Stamatopoulos: Stamatopoulos parlayed his writing job with Stiller into years of work writing for Letterman and Conan. He also contributed as a writer and exec producer to Mr. Show and Robert Smigel's TV Funhouse. Most recently, he has worked on Demetri Martin's show and NBC's Community.

Jeanne Tripplehorn: The actress' big-screen debut, Basic Instinct, had just become an unexpected blockbuster, and she had a major role in The Firm opposite Tom Cruise lined up when she performed in several episodes of the Fox show. Though her engagement to Stiller ended, her career didn't, and she found success recently with HBO's Grey Gardens and Big Love.

 

comments powered by Disqus