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Meet the Second Generation of Judd Apatow Protégés

The startling success enjoyed by the young crew of actors/writers/directors forever linked together by their debt to Judd Apatow — including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, and Nicholas Stoller — is the stuff of legend. But Apatow's lust for mentorship isn't yet appeased: Quietly, in the last few years, amid directing his own passion project and producing more hit movies for his underlings, Judd has pulled together a whole new roster of protégés to teach, nurture, and hook up with studios and networks. That includes Lena Dunham, the director/star of Tiny Furniture, a SXSW smash making its theatrical debut this week: She's now writing an HBO pilot that Apatow is producing. While this second generation is not exactly analogous to the first batch (Apatow's now churning out major motion pictures, not casting unknowns for under-the-radar TV shows), the M.O. is the same: He's looking to take a bunch of very talented people who don't exactly fit the Hollywood mold and figure out how to make them really, really popular. It worked once. Can he pull it off again? Let's meet the new class.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images