Is there room for more independent production in the world of television? The small screen has seen an increasingly influx of talent from the film world and beyond, but it’s typically by way of established studios and production companies — going outside of that system has been difficult, even for companies with a proven track record elsewhere in TV.
But Rob Schneider, talking to Deadline today, is planning a project he hopes “shakes up Hollywood”: “Real Rob,” an eight-episode comedy series Schneider is independently producing and financing. He will star in “Real Rob” alongside his wife, Patricia Azarcoya Schneider, and his friend Jamie Lissow — all three co-wrote the show. The single-camera half-hour series, which sounds halfway between “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Louie,” will be based on Schneider’s life and will find him playing an exaggerated version of himself, with breaks for stand-up bits. Filming is slated to begin in March.
Schneider, who told Deadline “I’m not afraid to expose aspects of my life; this is close to the bone,” has put up the majority of the financing himself with the help of some friends, and has kept the costs down by not taking pay himself. He plans to take the series out to cable networks like FX and HBO, as well as Netflix and other online distributors, and cited a desire to get away from network notes and pilot season, noting that Tyler Perry successfully started a new path with the 10-90 model for comedy series, where if the first 10 episodes are successful and meeting a ratings goal, an order for 90 additional episodes is automatically triggered.
“If I pull this off, other actors are going to realize that they can go around the networks and studios and get their shows out to the public,” Schneider said. “Real Rob” seems in part a response to “Rob” (or “¡Rob!”), his 2012 CBS multi-camera sitcom also based on his life and his marriage into a Mexican-American family, albeit loosely and in a way that relied on some very creaky stereotypes and cliches about culture clash. “Rob” ran for eight episodes before it was canceled.