Take one really funny stand-up comedian, add a hugely talented executive producer, and what you end up with is another lame sitcom.
Doesn't quite add up, does it? But then, neither does the new CBS comedy "The Louie Show."Louie Anderson is indeed a very funny comedian. The hefty comic has honed his act to the point that, if you're not laughing, you're either in extreme pain or dead.
And executive producer Diane English is the creator of "Murphy Brown," which is up there with the best TV sitcoms of all time.
But "Louie," which debuts Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on CBS/Ch. 2, is just another lame sitcom.
In an intro to the show - which may or may not make it on the air - Anderson addresses his studio audience.
"I've been wanting to do a sitcom for a long time but never have been able to figure it out because I have a very specific idea about what I think life is. And everybody goes, `What?' "
Actually, after watching the show you'll be asking a different question - why?
Why is this half hour, which casts Anderson as a Minnesota therapist, as weak as it is? Why aren't there more laughs? Why does it feel like it came off the sitcom assembly line?
Why doesn't "Louie" have that spark that makes Fox's animated "Life with Louie" - also based on Anderson's comedy - so special?
What went wrong? Maybe it's just the fact that not all stand-up comedians are cut out to be sitcom stars.
Anderson has no one to blame but himself. He co-wrote the pilot with executive producer Matt Goldman. And it comes off as a low-budget "Bob Newhart Show," with way too much "Seinfeld" thrown in.
(There's even a bit with an obnoxious blond waitress that looks like it was lifted right out of "Mad About You.")
The humor is at this level - Louie trading jabs with his wheelchair-bound assistant, Helen.
"One of these days I'm gonna put a brake on one of those wheels and you'll spin around in circle for days!" Louis says.
"Yeah? Well, if I strapped a donut to your back you'd be doing the same thing," Helen shoots back.
And that's one of the funnier lines.
English and her husband/
partner, Joel Shukovsky, are the show's other executive producers. And this is a looming failure she can't afford.
English's track record since she left "Murphy Brown" includes "Love & War," "Double Rush" and now "Louie."
That's an off-the-track record.
These are talented producers working with a talented comedian. So why the show is so mediocre is an unpleasant mystery.
SWAN SONG? The announcement that "CBS This Morning" is coming to Utah on Friday comes amidst reports that major changes are in the offing for the show.
New CBS News President Andrew Heyward told critics that trying to jump-start the show's lagging ratings is his top priority, and there are unconfirmed reports that he's preparing to replace both Zahn and Smith as the show's co-anchors.
Stay tuned . . .
RAIDING CABLE: ABC has turned to cable for its upcoming late-night series.
As has long been rumored, Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" - a comedy talk/panel discussion show - is making the move from Comedy Central. But not until January 1997.
ABC is scheduling the show for the time slot right after "Nightline." But whether the show will actually end up there in many markets remains open to question.
In Utah, don't expect to see Maher following Ted Koppell anytime soon. Or ever, for that matter. Not only does local ABC affiliate KTVX-Ch. 4 already have a number of syndicated shows it is contractually obligated to carry, but the station is already scheduled to add another late-night show to its schedule in the fall.
"Strange Universe Tonight," a half hour that reports on "odd, curious events," is scheduled to begin airing in the fall. And it's being co-produced by the same company that owns Ch. 4.
The ABC Network hasn't even persuaded all of its owned stations to clear "Politically Correct" after "Nightline." And it has a tough selling job to get a lot of its affiliates to carry the show at all.
And a particularly tough selling job in Utah.
HOW SWEET/CHEAP: Husband-and-wife producers Andy and Susan Borowitz have their own production company. Which isn't unusual, considering that they created "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and the upcoming ABC sitcom "Aliens in the Family."
The name of their company, Stuffed Dog, is a bit unusual, however. And there's a "really schmaltzy" reason for that name, according to Susan.
"It was the first gift that Andy gave me on my 20th birthday," she said.
"So it's sort of an eternal monument to my cheapness," Andy added.
And Susan allowed as how she wouldn't have minded a different name for the company.
"Of course, we could have had the Diamond Ring Company, but . . . " she said.
REAL ALIENS: "Aliens in the Family" is a comedy about a human single father who marries an alien single mother, sort of "a cross between `The Brady Bunch' and `Eraserhead,' " according to Andy Borowitz.
As odd as that sounds, Andy said he thinks it fits right in with what's happening on TV these days.
"There's so many shows with aliens, because you've go all the `Star Trek' shows and you have `Regis and Kathie Lee,' " he said.
THE RIGHT SPORT: CBS Entertainment President Leslie Moonves isn't worried about Bill Cosby's recent track record.
Yes, Cosby has flopped in both "You Bet Your Life" and "The Cosby Mysteries" since his mega-hit "Cosby Show" went off the air. But Moonves and CBS have the utmost confidence that Cosby can recapture that old magic in his new sitcom for the network this fall.
"Bill Cosby went into an hour mystery/drama and a game show," Moonves said. "It was like Michael Jordan playing baseball. We now have Michael Jordan back on the basketball court where he belongs.
"It was 12 years ago when he started, but I think . . . whether you're a 6-year-old kid or a 70-year-old grandma, America loves Bill Cosby."
Moonves certainly better hope so. He has given Cosby an absolutely unheard of 2-year, 44 episode commitment for his new sitcom, along with agreements on other shows to be produced by Cosby's company. We're talking about a deal valued at somewhere between $50 and $100 million.
"We're very excited about it, and, obviously, we're betting a lot that it's going to work," Moonves understated.