'Silicon Valley's' Alec Berg on HBO: "The Partners Every Other Network and Studio Claimed to Be"

"[HBO is] so helpful. They're so unobtrusive. They're so smart. We have the back and forth but in a very helpful, constructive way."

"When I started out as a writer, you would write a character and then your hope in the casting process was, 'I want to find someone who is exactly this,'" Silicon Valley showrunner Alec Berg explained during The Hollywood Reporter's Comedy Showrunner Roundtable.

"[Silicon Valley creator] Mike [Judge] is a genius at casting — it's one of his true strengths — and he did an amazingly smart thing. He auditioned every one of our principals as the role of Erlich. He loved the way they each played it. He just thought, 'I think [Thomas Middleditch is] my favorite version of [him], but I want those other people in this show.'"

Berg says, "If you go back to the original pilot script, the other four guys are very different on the page than they are now. They were each an interesting voice and an interesting note, and when he put those people together, they worked as a group."

The writer talked about how great it is to produce a show with HBO, saying, "They're so helpful. They're so unobtrusive. They're so smart. We have the back and forth but in a very helpful, constructive way. [HBO] are the partners that every other network and studio has always claimed to be."

Berg got his start as a writer on Seinfeld, eventually taking over as showrunner when Larry David left. He recounted the memorable day when he got his big break: "We [Berg and his former writing partner, Jeff Schaffer] were just sitting at home, and the phone rang, and our friends called us and said, 'Hey, how long would it take you to get over to CBS Radford? Larry [David] and Jerry [Seinfeld] want to meet you.' I'm standing there in my underwear, and 45 minutes later we're sitting with Larry and Jerry. Twenty minutes later, we've got a job."

Berg joined fellow comedy showrunners Kenya Barris (Black-ish), Jill Soloway (Transparent), Jay Duplass (Togetherness), Robert Carlock (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Steve Levitan (Modern Family) for the Roundtable, where the writer-producers discussed the profound impact of their shows on their respective demographics.

The full Comedy Showrunner Roundtable can be seen on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter when it premieres Sunday, Sept. 6, at 11 a.m. ET/PT on Sundance TV and HollywoodReporter.com.

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