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Comedy Showrunner Roundtable: Judd Apatow, David Mandel on Worst Pitches and Why Trump Should Get Credit on ‘Veep’

Six top TV bosses — including Kenya Barris, Gloria Calderon Kellett, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Scott Silveri — also open up about the horrors of network casting, the pressure to get political and the pitfalls of borrowing from one's own life.

Every writer in Hollywood has a worst pitch story to regale you with — gladly — and the six producers that The Hollywood Reporter gathered for its annual Comedy Showrunner Roundtable discussion on May 5 are no exception. Take Black-ish‘s Kenya Barris, who recounts to the group how an executive at BET once took a phone call in the middle of one of his pitches. Or Judd Apatow, who shares his memory of going out with Crashing, only to have creator-star Pete Holmes nearly blow it. “He didn’t make any jokes the whole pitch,” recalls Apatow. “He talked about it philosophically, and he intellectualized the idea of this religious man who wanted to be a comedian, and he went on and on and on. We walked out, and I’m like, ‘Pete, that was the worst pitch ever.’ ” The swapping of stories, each more colorful than the next, could continue for the entire hour, but Apatow, 49, and Barris, 42 — along with One Day at a Time co-showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett, 42; Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, 31; Veep‘s David Mandel, 46; and SpeechlessScott Silveri, 44 — have plenty to say on other subjects, too, including the horrors of network casting, the pressure to get political and the pitfalls of borrowing from one’s own life.

This story first appeared in a June standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.