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Showtime is moving forward with the comedy and has ordered a new pilot starring Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Steve Coogan to replace Hoffman in the show the late actor originally starred in and executive produced, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Showtime picked up the Hoffman comedy to series in April but will now go back to the pilot stage with Coogan. Production will begin in New York in December.
Oscar winner Hoffman (Capote), who died earlier this year from an apparent drug overdose, was poised to make his TV series debut with Happyish, a dark examination of the pursuit of happiness. Showtime picked up 10 episodes of the comedy in which Hoffman starred as 42-year-old Thom Payne, whose new bosses are half his age. His mentor and boss, Jonathan (Rhys Ifans) tells him to “rebrand” himself; his corporate headhunter tells him happiness is a myth; and Thom isn’t sure if his Viagra will interfere with his Prozac, or vice versa. Kathryn Hahn stars as his wife. Coogan, whose credits include Philomena and Alan Partridge, will take over the role of Thom, who is now 44.
It’s unclear who, if anyone, from the original Happyish cast will return.
Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment Feb. 2. According to reports, close to 50 envelopes of heroin were found in his home, as were several used and unused syringes and prescription drugs. He was 46. Hours after Hoffman’s passing, Coogan paid tribute to the actor at the London Critics’ Circle Awards.
At the time of Hoffman’s passing, Happyish was in the process of being written, but the series had not yet gone into production. Only the pilot for the series had been filmed.
In previewing Happyish for reporters at January’s Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, Showtime entertainment president David Nevins said the network courted Hoffman for a long time. “Happyish was a script that I’ve loved for a really long time, and it took us a while to get to Philip Seymour Hoffman,” Nevins said at the time. “It was a long process, but we didn’t have to rush, and we could wait and slowly bring him in — and [it was] totally worth it for the waiting.”
Created, written and executive produced by This American Life contributor Shalom Auslander, the series also was executive produced by Hoffman via his Cooper’s Town Productions banner. Ken Kwapis (He’s Just Not That Into You) will exec produce and direct the new pilot alongside producing partner Alexandra Beattie, who will co-EP under their Cahoots banner.
“Steve’s range is astounding — he is a comedy legend, a gifted satirist, and he possesses the unique combination of talents this role demands,” Auslander said.
The Happyish footage largely impressed a room of 200 critics at TCA, with Hoffman’s work instantly generating Emmy buzz. The series, developed by Kwapis, was due to premiere this year.
For Showtime, Happyish was set to be the cabler’s first new scripted comedy series since Nevins launched House of Lies in 2012. Happyish now joins a comedy pilot roster that also includes Cameron Crowe‘s Roadies as well as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Coogan, who has won three BAFTA Awards, co-wrote, produced and starred in the Oscar-nominated feature Philomena, which earned him Golden Globe, BAFTA and Academy Award nominations last year. His credits include Tropic Thunder, Hamlet 2 and The Night at the Museum films, among others. He’s repped by CAA and Independent Talent Group.
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