It was bound to happen, sooner or later. Steve Jobs is simply too important, too impressive, too easy a target not to base a character on him and turn it into a sitcom.
And that’s what might very well be happening, if the pilot currently in development in Hollywood gets optioned for a series. Yesterday, Media Rights Capital released a statement on its website describing how, working with cable channel EPIX, they have green-lit a pilot episode for a proposed sitcom series entitled — what else? — iCON.
From MRC’s website:
EPIX and Media Rights Capital have made a team for iCON, a comedy series pilot that will be developed by Larry Charles, the Emmy-winning TV writer/producer, and the director of the Sacha Baron Cohen features Borat and Bruno.
Charles will oversee development of the script and will direct the half-hour pilot of a series written by Dan Lyons. A technology consultant for Newsweek, Lyons created the Fake Steve Jobs blog and wrote the novel Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs—A Parody.
Yes, you read that right. Fake Steve himself is penning the script (it’s most likely he already has, given how sporadic the updates have been in recent weeks on the Fake Steve Jobs blog.) If you’re a fan of Fake Steve, this is exhilarating news; Lyons is not only an insightful author but is in possession of a Sahara-dry wit, to boot. In addition to his Fake Steve sideshow, Lyons is the author of Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs – A Parody. You might say he really knows the subject matter.
And then there’s Larry Charles. Directing Borat and Brüno might not be an accolade everyone everywhere agrees is worthy of celebration (I guess it depends on your sense of humor) but no one can argue with his other credentials; he directed the 2008 documentary Religulous starring Bill Maher, and was for many years a writer and producer on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. It all sounds like perfect past-experience for any producer charged with the task of bringing this project to life.
The partnership of Lyons/Charles is certain to culminate in a cutting (if not wickedly uncompromising) take on tech-celebrity culture.
A little more from MRC’s website on the subject matter of the show:
The show’s lead character, Tom Rhodes, is a composite of Jobs and other Silicon Valley titans, and the comedy is described as a savage satire, a study of ego, power and greed…
Jobs and other titans will certainly inspire iCON at its inception, but the show will lampoon the larger hi-tech world. [Larry] Charles will be swinging for the fences.
You may not have heard the name Media Rights Capital before. MRC is a studio owned by, amongst others, Goldman Sachs and (wait for it) AT&T. There’s something almost… poetic about that.
MRC will serve as the studio and financier. The company said it had several bidders for the property, but chose EPIX because Charles could be as edgy as he wanted to be.
“We are attempting to do nothing less than a modern Citizen Kane,” Charles said. “A scabrous satire of Silicon Valley and its most famous citizen.”
You know, at film school I heard time and time again that Citizen Kane was nothing less than the most perfect movie ever made. (I disagreed, favoring The Empire Strikes Back…) So for Charles to make a modern day Citizen Kane is, to put it mildly, an ambitious goal. But don’t forget, such bold statements are not uncommon for El Jobso when talking about music players or tablet devices, so I guess we can forgive this kind of hyperbole from a writer/producer described by the studio as “TV royalty.”
Apple has, naturally, remained silent on the matter. It’s fun to try to imagine what Steve Jobs might make of this. I think he’d probably find it amusing (and c’mon, it’s gotta be an ego boost?) but Macworld points out that Jobs has a less-than-stellar track record when it comes to this sort of thing:
Jobs is notoriously prickly about how he’s portrayed in the media. At one extreme, Apple infamously pulled all titles by publisher Wiley from its store shelves after the company released a book called iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business (no relation to the TV show).
Well, that was a book, and this is a (potential) TV show. Only Mac-heads and the most dedicated tech historians read books about Jobs. A sitcom from Larry Charles, on the other hand, will reach many millions of people otherwise entirely disinterested in the working of Silicon Valley’s executive elite.
This isn’t a series yet — the pilot has to prove there’s potential for that. But is there any serious doubt that Lyons/Charles can pull it off? And I wonder… a year from now, will we be laughing with Steve Jobs as he uses a clip from an episode to demo the next iPad… or rolling our eyes as his lawyers issue Cease & Desist orders to the studio?