“The Comeback” could be coming back — again. And for exhausting as that turn of phrase as become (we’re sorry), there is no sign of series fatigue among the cast and creators.
Co-creators Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King joined executive producer Dan Bucatinsky and co-star Laura Silverman for a reunion panel at the ATX TV Festival — moderated by the self-described “biggest ‘Comeback’ fan ever,” Abigail Spencer (“Timeless”) — and the group had plenty of ideas for how to keep the series going.
“There’s always a possibility,” Kudrow said of a Season 3. “If [Season 2] happened, then it’s a possibility.”
King echoed her enthusiasm, contending that the television landscape is perfectly set up for a return of Valerie Cherish.
“There’s so much aggressive sales needed, it’s like a perfect humiliation trap,” King said, holding up a water bottle sporting an ad for a network he wasn’t familiar with. “These small shows you’ve never heard of […] on whatever networks you can never find: Valerie would be like Where’s Waldo on TV.”
King explained that he saw Valerie getting lost in the ever-growing number of original programs from networks many people don’t recognize.
“TV is so desperate now, it’s finally caught up to Valerie Cherish,” he said.
“The Comeback” originally aired on HBO in 2005 and was cancelled after its first season. Nine years later, the premium cable giant resurrected the series for a second season, but there’s been no official word on future episodes.
Earlier in the panel, the group discussed how “The Comeback” was revived the first time. It began with a casual discussion Bucatinsky had with an HBO representative, and then King and Kudrow received a phone call for a meeting with the network. From there, HBO was open to the idea of going “meta” and letting the show parody itself as well as the industry.
“It was all based in reality,” King said.
Kudrow credited the creative community for elevating the show after its initial cancellation.
“‘They made a mistake’ — that’s what they’d say,” Kudrow said, remembering her peers’ reacting to the cancellation. “And networks do make mistakes. They’re people.”
“The creative people questioned the decision, and the business people thought there must have been something wrong [with the show],” she said.
“Writers would come to HBO and say, ‘I want to work at HBO because of ‘The Comeback,'” Bucatinsky said. “It became a thing. It really built an audience, like a cult classic does.”
To start the panel, the group discussed the loss of Robert Michael Morris, who played Valerie’s hairdresser and dear friend Mickey.
“He died Tuesday [May 30], and on Monday he called me to say he wasn’t going to make the panel,” King said. “He didn’t want anyone to be disappointed. Actually, he said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it,’ and he died the next day.”
Morris was King’s high school theatre teacher, and he was first approached for the role specifically because he’d retired from acting. When he came into the first audition, he brought a necklace for Kudrow.
“I put it on immediately,” she said. “It felt like a good luck charm.”
When the series returned for Season 2, Morris was already sick.
“We started the second season knowing he had Stage 4 lymphoma,” King said. “He was uninsurable, and HBO let us do it anyway.”
The cast marveled at the progress Morris made during the shoot.
“It was like he was getting well as we kept going along,” Kudrow said.
The ATX TV Festival runs June 8 – 11 in Austin, Texas. IndieWire will be on the ground throughout, so check back for more coverage.