Laughter on the 23rd Floor (2001)
In this made-for-cable TV movie based on his play, Neil Simon creates a semi-autobiographical look back at his formative years as a staff writer for a legendary star. The Max Prince Show is a fading variety and comedy series that was once a ratings sensation but is now losing ground to newcomer Lawrence Welk. The staff of writers who create each week's manic episode includes the dapper Kenny (Victor Garber), hypochondriac Ira (Saul Rubinek), wannabe screenwriter Brian (Zach Grenier), rookie Lucas (Mackenzie Astin), goofy Milt (Dan Castellaneta), Russian head writer Val (Mark Linn-Baker), and Carol (Peri Gilpin), the group's only woman. Under pressure from the network, the McCarthy hearings and his family, star Max Prince (Nathan Lane) has become a self-destructive wreck, abusing drugs, food, and alcohol, and seriously worrying his writers. News comes that one staff member will have to be let go, and as the scribes fret about which of them will get the axe, it seems that Max has a trick up his sleeve to prove he hasn't yet fallen completely apart. Director Richard Benjamin and co-star Linn-Baker previously collaborated on the similarly nostalgic show business comedy My Favorite Year (1982). … More
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