Late last week, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner sat down with Jeff Garlin, of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame, at Largo in Los Angeles to discuss Alex Trebek, Conan O’Brien, TV recappers, and the end of Weiner’s AMC show. Of the stories that Grantland’s Lane Brown relayed along, the one that I found most fascinating was this blurb:
When Weiner was a writer on a network sitcom he refused to name, he had a dispute with one of the show’s actors that ended in a bruised ass. Said Garlin: “I know you were kicked in the butt once. [Weiner] was writing on a show, and one of the actors — who’s a writer now — got so mad at Matt that he went up and kicked him in the butt.” “He wanted to have a fight with me,” remembered Weiner. “He was much bigger. He said, ‘You know how to fight?’ And I said, ‘I’m a comedy writer. Of course I don’t know how to fight.’
Who among us hasn’t wanted to kick Weiner in the butt at least once? But which actor-turned-writer is he talking about? Well, using Weiner’s IMDB credits, let’s try to figure this out, SCIENTIFICALLY.
Before creating Mad Men and writing and producing The Sopranos (including one of the show’s greatest episodes, “Kennedy and Heidi” — I’ll never listen to “Comfortably Numb” the same way…), Weiner wrote for Party Girl, based on the Parker Posey movie of the same name; The Naked Truth, about a photographer played by Téa Leoni working at a tabloid; comic strip-turned-TV series Baby Blues; the short-lived In-Laws, which was about exactly what you think it’s about; Andy Richter Controls the Universe, a large reason why the 2001-2002 season was the second best of the decade; and Becker, Ted Danson’s long-running small practice sitcom.
So, what do we know about the kicker from what Weiner and Garlin discussed? 1) He’s a he; 2) The show was on a network; 3) The actor is a writer now; and 4) According to Weiner, he was “much bigger.” I’m going to throw out Party Girl, In-Laws, and Baby Blues because Weiner only wrote one episode of each of them, so it’s unlikely he’d be around the cast enough to pick a fight, if at all. So, what’s left?
Andy Richter Controls the Universe
Male Cast: Andy Richter, James Patrick Stuart, Jonathan Slavin, John Bliss, Charlie Finn, and Sean Gunn
Andy Richter has stated in interviews that he and Weiner are friends, so it’s not him. James Patrick Stuart and Charlie Finn aren’t writers now, and Jonathan Slavin and Sean Gunn are too small. John Bliss, who played Old Man Pickering, was 72 years old when Controls the Universe was filmed, so he’s a very unlikely selection.
Male Cast: Ted Danson, Alex Désert, and Saverio Guerra
According to IMDb, Weiner worked as a writer and producer for Becker from its second season to the end of its fourth, ranging from 1999-2002, so that means it wasn’t Jorge Garcia, a.k.a. Hurley from Lost, who joined the show in season six. Elsewhere, it couldn’t have been Ted Danson because he’s not a writer; same with Alex Désert and Mocha Joe himself, Saverio Guerra. And that’s pretty much it for the male cast of Becker.
The Naked Truth
Male Cast: Tim Curry, Jonathan Penner, Darryl Sivad, Mark Roberts, Jack Blessing, George Wendt, George Segal, Tom Verica, Jim Rash, and Chris Elliott
Well, I’ll tell you who it’s not: Tim Curry. Why? Because who could possibly get into a fight with Tim Curry? He may be the Grand Wizard in The Worst Witch, but he’s not someone who’d get into a physical altercation with a writer. Also, he’s not really a writer — same goes for George “Norm!” Wendt, George Segal, Tom Verica, Jack Blessing, and Darryl Sivad. It’s also impossible to imagine Jim Rash, now known as Trick or Dean Pelton from Community, in a fight, so he’s an unlikely candidate. Jonathan Penner hasn’t written anything since a TV movie version of The Lone Ranger in 2003, so he’s off the list, leaving only two candidates. The actor who plays Paul Kinsey on Mad Men, Michael Gladis, worked with Chris Elliott on Eagleheart, and it’s doubtful Weiner would allow him to appear on the Adult Swim show if there was a bad blood between him and its star. That leaves: Mark Roberts, the semi-physically imposing creator of Mike and Molly, who began as an actor before writing for Two and a Half Men, and now his own show. Weiner vs. Roberts: who you got?
Josh Kurp thinks Matthew Weiner and Mark Roberts fighting would be the worst episode of Celebrity Deathmatch ever