Why That Joan Rivers Show Starring Kathryn Hahn is Dead

Sadly for fans of the legendary comedienne, Showtime will not be going forward with ”The Comeback Girl”
168

If you were psyched to see Kathryn Hahn playing standup icon Joan Rivers in The Comeback Girl on Showtime, the producers behind the limited series neglected to secure the late late night legend’s life rights, so forget it.

As Variety reports, the Warner Bros. Television production with Hahn attached as lead and executive producer, along with You E.P. Greg Berlanti onboard to direct, is not moving forward because Rivers’s daughter, Melissa Rivers, is holding onto the rights to her mom’s life story.

A spokesperson for Melissa tells the paper that she currently has no plans for the elder Rivers’s story—at least none that are ready to be announced.

Had the producers decided to go ahead with an unauthorized telling, they might have run into legal trouble when it came to including Rivers’s jokes or catchphrases in screenwriter Cosmo Carlson’s script. That would have been no easy task, considering that the show was to focus on the period in 1987 when Rivers lost both her gig hosting The Late Show on Fox and her husband, Edgar Rosenberg—one of her most reliable punch lines—to suicide.

With The Comeback Girl seemingly on permanent hiatus, the “Jewface” controversy surrounding it might also be put on the backburner for now.

When it was announced last month that Hahn, an Illinois Gentile with an MFA from Yale, would be playing Brooklyn-bred Jew Rivers, some—including Time magazine—wondered why it seems that Jews are exempt from the current Hollywood fetish dictating that characters must only be portrayed by actors of matching ethnicity.

Actor-comedian Sarah Silverman weighed in on the subject during her podcast recently, saying, “Kathryn Hahn did absolutely nothing wrong… Singularly, I have zero problem with it. But there’s this long tradition of non-Jews playing Jews, and not just playing people who happen to be Jewish, but people whose Jewishness is their whole being… At a time when the importance of representation is seen as so essential and so front and center, why does ours constantly get breached? Even today, in the thick of it?”