In a new interview with the Boston Globe, Judd Apatow has revealed that he’s currently working on a documentary about legendary comedian George Carlin.
Asked what’s next for his career, Apatow said he’s “about to start work with my partner Michael Bonfiglio on a documentary about George Carlin. So I’m looking forward to watching a lot of Carlin interviews and specials. I think his work turned out to be very prophetic.”
I was too young to fully appreciate Carlin’s genius when he was alive, but I was old enough to recognize that the man was a brilliant social critic and a master wordsmith who spoke like a street-smart philosopher. 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.
Starting in 1977, Carlin shot 14 stand-up comedy specials for HBO, and though Apatow didn’t mention any network involvement, it stands to reasons that HBO would be the natural fit for a Carlin documentary. The hugely influential comic called HBO home, and the network also aired Apatow and Bonfiglio’s Garry Shandling documentary, to say nothing of Apatow’s own HBO ties between Girls, Crashing and his early days on The Larry Sanders Show.
Representatives for HBO, Apatow and Bonfiglio did not respond to requests for comment, though a source hinted that a press release would be forthcoming, indicating that the project is set up somewhere.
Beyond his own comedy specials, Carlin was a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show, and he hosted the very first episode of Saturday Night Live in 1975. He also played Rufus in the Bill & Ted movies and starred in a trio of Kevin Smith films, including Dogma. Meanwhile, Carlin’s contribution to the foul-mouthed documentary The Aristocrats is one of the filthy highlights of that film. Despite all of these accomplishments, Carlin is ultimately remembered as one of the Top 5 stand-up comedians of all time.
He died of heart failure at the age of 71, less than four months after filming his final comedy special, It’s Bad for Ya, and was posthumously awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Carlin’s ashes were reportedly scattered in front of various nightclubs he had played in New York, which is about as poetic an ending for this man as I can imagine.
Carlin fans should also know there’s also a scripted biopic in development at Gail Berman‘s Jackal Group, which hired Moneyball scribe Stan Chervin to write the script back in October 2018. There hasn’t been any reported movement on that project since.
Bonfiglio directed the Judd Apatow-Lena Dunham episode of Iconoclasts before co-directing the 30 for 30 film Doc & Darryl with Apatow, who quickly sparked to documentary filmmaking. Bonfiglio went on to serve as a co-executive producer on the Apatow-directed documentary The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, and he also directed Gary Gulman‘s acclaimed comedy special The Great Depresh, which Apatow executive produced. Bonfiglio also recently directed Comedy Central’s upcoming documentary about late comedian Patrice O’Neal that boasts Bill Burr and Al Madrigal as executive producers.