Movies may be the main attractions at the 2017 Nantucket Film Festival, but this weekend’s festivities will also honor two of the most influential minds in television.
“Friends” co-creator and Brandeis University alum David Crane along with former “Mad About You” writer and co-producer Jeffrey Klarik will take home the Creative Impact in Television Writing Award at the Screenwriters Tribute on June 23, hosted by Ben Stiller. The life partners, who co-created the Emmy-nominated series “Episodes” starring Newton native Matt LeBlanc, are excited to make their first trip over to the Bay State island.
“I grew up in Connecticut and it was always beyond our reach some how. Like, ‘Oh that’s the fancy place,'” Klarik jokes. “We never got to go there and I always wanted to go, so we’re really excited. Plus the fact that we’re being honored is just like icing on the cake.”
The always entertaining duo gives us the scoop on their trip to Nantucket, the upcoming final season of “Episodes” and their thoughts on a possible “Friends” reunion.
Since both of you have New England roots, I’m guessing you don’t miss the cold weather.
Jeffrey Klarik: Funny that you say that because we do. And every Christmas we actually go back and stay in Vermont for like two weeks just to get a snow fix. We really do miss the variety of climate. One year we were at Goodspeed [Musicals] in Connecticut, and all of a sudden I go, “Oh my God, the foliage. I’ve never seen that!” And then I thought, “Yes you did, you just took it for granted.”
Do you agree with critics who say we’re living in the golden age of television?
JK: This is really the golden age of television. Sometimes we’ll look back at shows that we liked back then and go, “Really? I remember it being much funnier or much richer.” Now, we’ll watch “Handmaiden’s Tale” and it’s better than any film we’ve seen in the theaters. The fact that we’ve broken free from the network system and it’s no longer entertainment by committee anymore. I think people are given much more free rein, and therefore they’re able to create their visions.
David Crane: Certainly we have been. Showtime and the BBC really just let us make the show that we wanted to make. If you’re going to fail, fail on your own terms, but you have a greater chance of succeeding.
Was it always the plan to end “Episodes” with season five?
JK: We actually said to Showtime, “We want to finish it up this year.” We think we’ve told the story we set out to tell and we would love to just do a few more and go out on top. They kind of wanted us to stay longer, but I think it was the right time and everyone was anxious to try new things.
DC: You want to leave them wanting more.
How awesome has it been to team up with Matt LeBlanc again for the show?
JK: I can’t think of anybody who could’ve done this part better.
DC: Beside being an incredible actor and an incredible comedian, he’s also a really good sport.
JK: And is perfectly fine with us making him the butt of the joke, as long as he thinks the joke is funny, he’ll go along with just about anything we suggest.
A ton of stars will join you two in Nantucket. Do you guys still get star-struck at events like this?
DC: We’re easily intimidated.
JK: Very intimidated. I mean, I love the fact that we’ll get to see Ben Stiller and Kristen Schaal.
DC: Just amazingly funny, talented people.
JK: We’re kind of going as fans.
Everyone wants to see a “Friends” reunion, but do you believe that Hollywood’s reboot culture is hurting the industry?
DC: Our feeling is, and this isn’t to put down anyone doing a reboot, but you finish it. You put a bow on it. You finish it the way to want and certainly that’s how we look at it. We finished it the way we wanted to finish it and also, I think the great risk is, everyone says like, “I want a reunion! I want a reunion!” When you actually do it, very often the response is, “Meh.”
JK: I think it’s like looking up an old girlfriend or boyfriend. Like, “Oh my God, what happened to him?”
As partners in work and in life, how do you balance those two worlds?
JK: There’s no line between our personal lives and our work lives. It’s all one big, fun package.
DC: When we’re in the midst of it, Jeff will wake up talking about it, we’re in the car talking about it.
JK: Sometimes I’ll actually say to David, “I’m begging you, just for one minute, can we talk about one thing other than work.” He’ll say, “Sure,” and then we’ll look at each other for a few minutes in silence.
DC: And then it’s usually Jeffrey who says, “What if this happens in the show?” And we’re back at it.