Ed Begley Jr. Wants an App That ‘Measures Your Carbon Footprint’

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“St. Elsewhere” alum discusses his new Silicon Valley comedy “Betas”

Should Ed Begley Jr. ever abandon acting and environmental activism for life as a tech developer, what kind of app might he set his mind to inventing?

The answer, as it turns out, might not surprise you.

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“I would like an app that measures your carbon footprint,” Begley told TheWrap at a recent press gathering for his new series “Betas,” which premiered from Amazon Studios last week.

The series, whose cast also includes Jonathan C. Daly (“The Kroll Show”), Charlie Saxton, Joe Dinicol and Karan Soni, revolves around Silicon Valley — or, more precisely, BRB, a startup that’s striving to develop a social media app. Begley plays George Murchison, an eccentric venture capitalist who, though taking a couple hits to his track record recently, still holds considerable sway in the tech world. As Begley sees it, it was a role that he was born — or at least trained heavily in his youth — to play.

“I play a character who lived very large in the 60s and 70s, so for my research, I lived very large in the 60s and 70s,” Begley quipped, when asked about his research for the role.

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The series is the second from Amazon Studios (following “Alpha House,” a political comedy that premiered Nov. 15). While the genre of original online series is still largely untested outside of the Netflix stable, the cast regards the format as a bold new frontier — but also just another platform on which to practice the classics.

“The writing drew me to it; it’s really smart and really fun and it’s just good comedic writing,” Charlie Saxton, who plays young coder Mitchell on the series, reflected. “But it also has a lot of heart to it, which I feel is something that’s lacking in not just workplace comedies but comedies in general. It has a really good heart.”

“It’s a really great show that happens to be being shown on the internet,” Joe Dinicol, who plays BRB co-founder Trey Barrett, added. “The new format is really exciting but it’s kind of icing on the cake.”