Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s death will force changes to all of his upcoming projects, but the one most affected may be his planned series for Showtime, “Happyish.”
The comedy-drama about a disheartened advertising man was built largely around the actor and had shot only one episode, the pilot. Showtime will now have to choose between recasting the role and abandoning the project.
Showtime had made no decisions Sunday on the future of the show, which did not have a premiere date set. The episodes after the pilot were in the process of being written.
“Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of our generation’s finest and most brilliant actors,” the network said in a statement. “He was also a gifted comedic talent. It was a great privilege and pleasure to work with him and we are all absolutely devastated by this sudden loss. Our thoughts go out to his family at this very difficult time.”
When he announced the show Jan. 16, Showtime president David Nevins said the network took its time developing “Happyish,” trying to lure Hoffman.
“It took us a while to get to Philip Seymour Hoffman,” he said, adding that it was “totally worth it.”
Showtime finds itself in a quandary like the one faced by HBO after the sudden death of James Gandolfini, who had starred in the pilot for HBO’s “Criminal Justice” but had not shot additional episodes. HBO opted to continue with the project, recasting Robert De Niro in the Gandolfini role.
HBO has said it will not show the Gandolfini version of the pilot to the public.
A brief preview of the “Happyish” pilot shown to critics at the time of the announcement found Hoffman at his best, playing a flustered mid-career executive clinging to the old rules of advertising in a world ruled by micro-messaging and Twitter. He struggles with how much selling out is too much, and at one points persuades Louis C.K. to hawk sneakers.
His idea of preserving old-fashioned ideals is protecting the Keebler Elves from being cut from an upcoming ad campaign — never mind that they, just like sponsored tweets, are merely another way of selling cookies.