It’s Official: HBO Picks Up George Carlin Documentary from Judd Apatow

     August 10, 2020


Back in early June, Collider reported that Judd Apatow was working on a documentary about legendary comedian George Carlin and that it would obviously land at HBO. Sure enough, the network finally confirmed that news on Monday after giving Deadline yet another press release they did nothing to earn.

Apatow and his longtime collaborator Michael Bonfiglio will direct the two-part documentary, which HBO Documentary Films will produce in association with Rise Films and Apatow Productions. Apatow will executive produce alongside Teddy Leifer, Kelly Carlin, Jerry Hamza, and the project reunites the key creative team behind HBO’s Emmy-winning documentary The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.

The documentary will feature a unique mix of conversations with Carlin’s family and friends, material from his stand-up specials, TV appearances and personal archive.


Image via Universal Pictures

“George Carlin’s work becomes more relevant every day. It is an honor to be given the opportunity to tell the story of his life and work,” said Apatow, who previously called Carlin’s work “very prophetic.”

“Having been the public keeper of my dad’s legacy these last 12 years, I’ve dreamt of the right people appearing at the right moment to give the documentary telling of my father’s story what it deserves — an honoring of his comedic genius and unique cultural impact, while not shying away from his personal struggles and humanity,” said Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin.

“It’s a great honor to be producing a film about George Carlin, a giant figure in comedy,” added Leifer. “The sting of his words is as sharp now as when he was on stage. Carlin is the comedian’s comedian who mastered his craft and shaped American counterculture such that he paved the way for a generation of comics that followed. I’m thrilled that we will once again be working with our wonderful colleagues at HBO and that Judd Apatow, another comedy giant, is directing.”


Image via Miramax

“George Carlin had a string of very successful comedy albums in the first half of the seventies. When they ran out of gas, George needed a place that would accept his language and fuel his career. HBO gave George a stage where his language was unrestricted, and his comic genius was presented to millions,” noted Hamza.

Known as “the dean of counterculture comedians,” Carlin was a very political figure whose “seven dirty words” routine made national headlines as part of a censorship case that played out in the Supreme Court. Carlin headlined 14 stand-up comedy specials on HBO over the course of his career. He filmed his first HBO special in 1977 and appeared on The Tonight Show over 130 times.

Carlin fans should also know there’s also a scripted biopic in development at Gail Berman‘s Jackal Group from Moneyball scribe Stan Chervin. Click here to read more about that project.