Scoop: Garry Shandling redefined the TV sitcom

Rest in peace, Garry Shandling.

The actor and comedian who masterminded the phony docudrama with “The Larry Sanders Show” died unexpectedly Thursday at 66, after a heart attack at his Los Angeles home.

The innovative humorist with a voice that seemed on the verge of a whine claimed to disdain too much logic cluttering his life.

“The answer isn’t gonna be in the facts,” he told The Associated Press in 2009. “It’s gonna be in intuition. That’s how I work creatively. I’m always teaching people that the answer to that creative question is right here, in the room, between us here.”

Born in 1949 in Chicago and raised in Tucson, Ariz., the comic began his show business career writing and doing stand-up in Los Angeles as a young adult.

In the 1980s, he toyed with the sitcom form with “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” breaking the fourth wall and serving up the funny song, “This is the theme to Garry’s show….”

In 1992, he created HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show,” in which he starred as an egomaniacal late-night TV host with an angst-ridden life behind the scenes. Debuting months after Johnny Carson retired from “The Tonight Show,” it seemed a wry, deeply felt homage to the King of Late Night.

The show, which ran until 1998, explored the fuzzy distinction between TV life and real life, and the loneliness of someone at its crossing. The closest thing Larry had to friends were his needy announcer played by Jeffrey Tambor, and his Napoleonic producer, played by Rip Torn. Guests portraying themselves included included David Duchovny and Jim Carrey.

Shandling was mentioned as candidate to follow David Letterman as a real late-night host, but it never happened.

Shandling never married; his most public romance was with “Sanders” co-star Linda Doucett, who sued him after he fired her following their breakup in the mid-1990s.

News of Shandling’s death brought comments from Steve Martin, Amy Schumer, Seth MacFarlane, Kathy Griffin. Albert Brooks, Billy Crystal and Ellen DeGeneres, who spoke of his brilliance and impact.

He recently appeared on his pal Jerry Seinfeld’s web show “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” in an episode titled “It’s Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive.”


QUICK TAKES

Ken Howard, the strapping character actor who starred in the 1970s TV drama “The White Shadow” and was serving as president of SAG-AFTRA, died at 71. … Alumni of San Francisco’s Academy of Art University who worked on “Batman v Superman” include Nicholas Kim, Lokesh Prakash, Zuny Byeongjun An and Mauricio Valderrama.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Producer Ryan Lewis of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is 28. … Singer Katharine McPhee is 32. .. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker is 51. … .. Musician Elton John is 69. … … Singer Aretha Franklin is 74.

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