Phil Hartman’s Flat TV was written, recorded and performed by Hartman before his rise to stardom as a beloved cast member on The Pee Wee Herman Show and Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, and NewsRadio. In 2002, four years after Phil Hartman’s passing, his brother, legendary music agent, John Hartmann, of Leo/Hartmann Productions, released the album through Laugh.com after its mysterious disappearance.
“Phil Hartman’s Flat TV was produced by Chad Stuart and recorded just before Phil joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. Wrapped up in the hectic schedule of writing and acting on SNL, he forgot all about the album. In the interim, the recording studio closed and the tapes were stashed and forgotten in a backyard storage unit in San Fernando Valley. After Phil’s death, 25 years later, we searched far and wide and finally found the original masters. This is Phil at his funniest, without the burden of time, censors or committees. It’s pure genius,” John Hartmann explained.
Comedic writer, animator and performer, Michael T. Scott recently joined animation company Worker Studio as a partner. Before Scott began his career, he shared his burgeoning comedy work in a fan letter to Phil Hartman in 1997 and received a thoughtful and constructive reply. Thirteen years after Phil Hartman’s death, Scott posted the letter online and it went viral. This caught the eye of Angel Rosenthal, business partner of Phil’s brother Paul Hartmann. At the time, Rosenthal and Paul Hartmann were spearheading a campaign that got Phil Hartman a Star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, in addition to working to convert two of Phil’s unseen art projects into animated features.
Producing with Paul Hartmann and Rosenthal, Worker Studio has begun developing animation around the twenty-two vignettes that make up Phil Hartman’s Flat TV. It revolves around the dysfunctional Sphincter Family and intersperses their daily life with the television broadcasts they consume. It is a satirical portrait of the American family in the late 1970s, but with hilarious insights perennial to our culture.
Here’s a sample clip from the album: