The “behind-the-scenes of a fictitious TV show” TV show has taken many forms, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Aaron Sorkin Knows The Truth About Everything So Just Shut Up And Let Him Educate You, a.k.a. The Newsroom. But even devoted fans of programs like 30 Rock or Sports Night would likely admit that Garry Shandling’s The Larry Sanders Show stands out. Not only did it manage to balance the fake reality of its universe with appearances by real-life stars, but its mix of tight writing and improvisational humor has been a benchmark for countless other contemporary comedies (it’s no coincidence Judd Apatow was a writer on the series.) And it seems the people behind just-announced new Pop TV series Traci From Nightcap were influenced by it, too, because they’ve decided to basically just do it again, but with the focus on a different character.
The new show stars comic actor Alexandra Wentworth (who’s apparently going by “Ali” these days, according to the press release and her most recent IMDB credits) as a producer and talent booker for a fictional late-night talk show, and will feature an ongoing mix of improvisational actors and real-life celebrities playing themselves. The specific hook of the series—perhaps instituted as a way to distinguish itself from the otherwise very Sanders-esque premise—is that each half-hour episode “covers the hectic 22 minutes prior to a live airing” of the show-within-a-show. This will mark Wentworth’s first regular series since the 2009 finale of her Starz series Head Case (basically Web Therapy without the “Web” part), and she also serves as executive producer. With any luck, Traci From Nightcap will continue Pop’s push into strong comedy programming, which began last year with the quite good (if unfortunately named) Schitt’s Creek. It won’t, however, have Jeffrey Tambor saying ”Hey now!”—but that’s okay, because he’s busy doing equally great work at the moment.