Billy Crystal on 'The Comedians': What brings him back to TV


After a 28-year TV hiatus -- excepting a near regular gig as Oscars host -- Billy Crystal is set to star in a pilot for FX called "The Comedians," the cable net announced in May. Crystal sat down with Zap2it to talk about reprising his role as Mike Wazowsky in "Monsters University," the forthcoming Disney-Pixar prequel to the 2001 animated comedy "Monsters, Inc." And, while chatting about taking his lovable character backwards in time, we couldn't resist asking Crystal about his planned return to a long-silent television career. 

Crystal's last regular TV role was in 1985 as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live." So, what kind of a pilot would bring the 65-year-old comic legend back to the world of series television? He explains:

"This 'Comedians' show is so hilarious," Crystal says. "It's a wonderful premise of a documentary that had been made about the making of a variety show between a veteran comedian and a younger comedian who are forced to work together, who don't like each other, but have to do it."

Crystal says "The Comedians", which is based on a Swedish format of the same name, will focus on the behind-the-scenes process at the sketch comedy show, as well as the personal lives of the conflicting comedians. Matt Nix ("Burn Notice"),  Ben Wexler ("Arrested Development") and Larry Charles ("Seinfeld") will serve as writers and executive producers, along with Crystal. Charles is also set to direct the pilot.

"When I saw it I thought, 'I could really like doing this,'" says Crystal. "I'm going to play myself; it's a chance to do live sketches, it's a chance to act, it's a chance to improvise. And when we land the other actor -- who's going to be a really good, strong name as well, and a talented person -- we're going to have really something special. So I thought ... 'I would like to do that.'"

No word yet on casting for that other "good, strong name," but this already sounds like a show that will be worth the three-decade wait.

"Monsters University" is in theaters June 21.
Photo/Video credit: Zap2it
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