It's not every day that multi-Emmy and Globe winner Garry Shandling grants access to his inner circle of comedy trust - his press appearances are few and far between - but he made a rare exception for Empire. The one-time Larry Sanders looked back on his talk show alter ego and shared a few of his sharpest memories. Regrets, he's had a few. But then again...
Fans have been demanding the complete box set of The Larry Sanders Show for years. Was there a reason you held off releasing it?
It's just been a business issue. Sony really wanted to release the 'Best Of', and then Season One came out years ago and I wasn't even really aware of it. It took commitment from everybody to finally say, "Let's do the whole thing." There's a little intro when you put the first disc in, where I have stacks of all the DVDs that have been previously released, and I sweep them one by one off the table, saying, "You don't need these anymore, and it's as confusing to me as it is to you!"
There are some amazing DVD extras, like a series of unscripted chats with stars who cameoed on the show, from Jerry Seinfeld to Sharon Stone...
The 'Best Of' DVD already had a lot of great stuff, like those visits with friends such as Alec Baldwin and David Duchovny. But this has a couple of new features too. And even the episodes from other box sets are actually funnier in this box set. We've gone in and tweaked the comedy.
Was there anyone you regret not getting as a guest on the show?
What happens more now is I'll bump into people and go, "Oh, we should've had them on the show." Like my friend Sam Rockwell, who's such a fantastic actor. I don't know what Sam was doing 10 years ago, but he'd have been great. I wish I'd had George Carlin on the show. He was such a part of my life and so important to me. I'm sure I was just waiting for the right episode and then we ended, but that was my biggest regret.
Would you ever go back to TV? It seems like you nearly killed yourself working on Sanders...
When the US went into Iraq and Afghanistan, that was still not equal to the difficulty that we had putting the Sanders show together every week. (Laughs) We had a slightly lower budget than the defence spending for the US, too.
Which comedians impress you these days?
I'm still interested in Ricky Gervais, and I told him that I thought what he did on the Golden Globes was a notable risk. I flip around a lot, but it takes a long time to make the complete cycle because there are 650 stations. By the time I come back to 30 Rock, I've lost the story!
What would Larry be doing now?
I had written a scene - I've never shared this with anyone - which I contemplated for a final episode, where Larry dies and he has to face God. And God asks him about all of his accomplishments and Larry talks about the awards he's won, his marriages, the money he's donated to charity. And each time God asks, "What else?" And the key of it is, Larry says, "I don't know what you mean." And God says, "That's the problem!" But then he says, "I saw most of your shows and thought they were good. But I didn't see all of them." It ends with Larry trying to sell his DVDs to God...
The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series is out now.