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JEAN SHEPHERD–the sitcom


Think about a sitcom based on Jean Shepherd’s career. There was word that one might have been in the works a few years back, but the whole focus was altered and nothing happened.

My idea would be somewhat like the popular WKRP in Cincinnati which originally aired from 1978 to 1982. It dealt with a small radio station. I’d deal with a fictional WOR in New York City. The details would not follow what we know actually happened, but would have some connections to it, with some of the major characters, and would conflate calendar events as well as invent much, somehow based on our understanding of some real people and actions. Inspired by. And, I think it might have less simple comedy and more Shepherd-like humor. Maybe instead of sit-com (for comedy), it could be called, for humor, a sit-hum. Speaking of hum–the opening theme song would be “Bahn Frei” played on kazoo.

All names and some recognizable detail of characters would be changed.

Never fear—or hope—the chances of this coming to fruition are infinitesimally small.


of the immensely successful future sit-hum to be titled



Photo below does NOT represent

the cast of Excelsior, You Slob

WOR cast


Photo above does NOT represent

the cast of Excelsior, You Slob



→Jean Shepherd←

GE idea 1

→The STAR←

A Midwestern radio guy who comes to New York to make his mark and create great art in many fields in the entertainment capital of the world. He has a special, captivating way of improvising his shows. He begins to create in other fields such as writing stories and television. He works hard at becoming an actor and artistic celebrity.

He pulls some noteworthy pranks such as an I, Libertine-type hoax, and various mills set up to disturb the tranquility of the populace.

Leigh Brown

A young woman living in Manhattan, who is immersed in the arts. She knows many young creative types in the Village such as Shel Silverstein, Rip Torn, Herb Gardner, Jason Robards Jr. When she meets Shepherd she is smitten by his mind and eventually will try to seduce him.

Eventually Shepherd hires her as a gofer, and she little by little works her way up to be his producer and much more.

Lois Nettleton

A young, beautiful, and intelligent actress who, captivated by Shepherd’s innovative radio work, has recently married him. She sometimes shows up at the station to Leigh Brown’s chagrin.

Herb Saltzman

The station’s General Manager.  He likes Shepherd, listens to his complaints, and is a sharp observer of all that goes on at the station, including the relationship between Leigh and Shepherd.

Herb Squire

The only engineer at the station who understands and likes what Shepherd does.

Laurie Squire

An attractive young woman who begins at the station, marries Herb, and acts as Shepherd’s producer when he and Leigh are off somewhere busy creating wildly creative projects.

WOR Executives

These klutzes do not understand Shepherd’s talent and disparage him when they can.


These klutzes do not understand Shepherd’s talent, but he sells product so they accept him.

Assorted Close Friends of Shepherd’s such as

Shel Silverstein and Bobby Fischer

Talented, young, creative types and celebrities frequently show up.

Hugh Hefner peeks in to hand Shepherd checks.

Village Voice luminaries arrive once in a while to cause trouble (i.e. Norman Mailer).

Jerry Seinfeld

Occasionally drops by to talk about nothing.

Assorted minor figures

Station engineers, many of whom dislike Shepherd; breakfast-cart folk bearing tepid coffee, frosting, and sprinkles; cleanup people; repair people; security guards who protect Shepherd from *(see below);  deliverymen on bikes carrying large orders of chicken with bean sprouts, egg rolls, and BBQ spare ribs (on the bone); etc.

Every year on Shepherd’s birthday, his mother shows up from Homan (yes, Homan) bearing a dripping brown paper bag full of what she knows is his favorite meal (me-lo, re-ca, and ma-po).

And a leg lamp salesman with, in hand, a large sample which does not light–salesman improvised by Robbin Williams or Tim Conway. Or both.




*(Shep-Cuckooswho inevitably crash and burn.)

[By the way, maybe this could work? I solicit editorial suggestions

and contacts with entertainment bizz VIPs.]




  1. Tom says:

    Gene, this simply doesn’t comply with today’s sitcom formula. First of all, all the characters need to be unbelievably stupid. Their primary objective in life has to be taking the perfect selfie and owning the latest I-phone. Each needs to have a personal conflict taken from the approved Hollywood menu – such as a gender identity crisis. They have to be loud, self-centered, vain, and oblivious to current events. That’s how you make a sitcom that Americans will tune in for.

  2. I am not sure, but for some reason, the very odd show, “Portlandia” comes to mind. More like nutty vignettes than a real plot – some characters, but maybe visual re-enactments of the stories …

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