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EDtv marks a reunion for Ron Howard and screenwriting partners Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who have written four previous pictures for Howard but have not collaborated with the acclaimed director since penning his 1989 comedy hit, Parenthood

EDtv marks a reunion for Ron Howard and screenwriting partners Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who have written four previous pictures for Howard but have not collaborated with the acclaimed director since penning his 1989 comedy hit, Parenthood. Since that $100 million blockbuster, the duo has scripted such comedy hits as City Slickers, A League of Their Own and Multiplicity, among others, after first achieving individual success in the television sitcom arena in the 1970s.

"We've been looking for something to do with Ron since Parenthood which was the best working experience that Babaloo and I ever had," Ganz enthuses. The writers were attracted to the project, based on an obscure 1994 French-Canadian film called Louis XIX: Roi des Ondes (Louis 19: King of the Airwaves), "because of the film's concept and Ron's enthusiasm for the project."

Howard's production company, Imagine Entertainment, in which he has been partnered with producer Brian Grazer since 1986, uncovered the little movie gem upon its release in 1994. Producer Grazer heard about the movie and called it to Howard's attention. "He'd heard about it, had not seen it, but had a one-paragraph description. Immediately, instantly, I wanted to work on the project," Howard recalls. "I'm not always that spontaneous in my decision making, but I just loved the idea."

"Practically speaking, we were inspired by this one-line concept from the original film," Ganz relates. "Almost every movie we've written, for Ron or someone else, was based on a sentence somebody said to us. That's kind of our m.o. .. .move on a pitch sentence, a one-liner. That happened with this project as well."

"The premise here is a man whose life is going nowhere," co-writer Mandel explains. Adds partner Ganz, "Nobody wants to be nobody in America. Ed is the apotheosis of a prevailing American syndrome. It used to be that someone became famous because they were special. Now people are considered special just for being famous. Fame, itself, is its own virtue.

"There's a character in the movie, played by Martin Landau, who says that in the old days, people were put on the covers of magazines for doing something great," Mandel notes, then allows Ganz to finish the thought. He was talking about Norman Rockwell, who would paint a picture of a mailman on his rounds. That would be a cover. He then says that for a mailman to make the cover of a magazine (today), he'd have to kill somebody."

"I just loved the premise of this movie," producer Grazer exclaims. "Essentially, it's about fame, the aphrodisiac of fame, how you want it so badly for all the things you think it can produce. As a producer, there aren't too many drawbacks to having fame because you're not that famous.

"I'm not enormously famous, but I have a little sense of what fame is," Grazer continues. "I have many famous movie star friends, and there you get to see all the negatives. It shows all the backlash to fame. How people want to be your friend because you're famous. I think everybody wants to be famous. It's fascinating, and funny. So, from a first- person point-of-view, I was able to identify with what fame can get you.

"I relat

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