No matter how it looks, the gang in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” the literally full frontal laugh attack from the bawdy fun factory of Judd Apatow, isn’t really “a who’s who on television.” It’s more like a “who’s that?”
I mean, not one of the players in the not-so romantic comedy, which scored a nifty $17-million-plus opening weekend, can be called a familiar face. Certainly, Jason Segel, who doubles as screenwriter has had enough mug time on the small screen in the current “How I Met Your Mother” and the previously short-lived “Undeclared.”
The latter sitcom, which also gave an early break to “Sarah” director Nicholas Stoller, was another property from Apatow, the now white-hot film producer whose connections to “Freaks and Geeks” (which also featured Segel), “The Larry Sanders Show,” and "The Ben Stiller Show” are likely more memorable to any selective television viewers still sitting among us.
On the other hand, his cast in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” seems more directed at couch potatoes and certainly fanboys who might recognize that Kristen Bell, Miss Sarah Marshall herself, has starred as TV’s “Veronica Mars” and on “Heroes” and, is not only the voice of “Gossip Girl” but also in the video game, “Assassin’s Creed.”
Bell’s background certainly produced some rare irony on set when her film character, herself a popular TV actress on a “CSI”-like program, gets the bad news of the show’s cancellation. During a recent round of interviews, Bell claimed the scene was shot just two weeks after the real-life axing of “Veronica Mars.”
“It was a completely realistic reaction (on screen),” Bell said. “I thought (‘Veronica’) was going to go. I really did. Of course, I thought that the first two years when we were picked up, too.
“I thought, ‘we knew our numbers were stagnant.’ They weren’t bad and they weren’t good, but they were holding and I totally get the whole business aspect of it."
“Still it was heartbreaking, you know? Those people were like members of my family.”
Her and Segel’s notoriety notwithstanding, most of the others in Bell’s movie “family” have TV connections, too. They include rubber-faced Bill Heder (“Saturday Night Live”), Mila Kunis (Meg Griffin’s voice on “Family Guy” and a former regular on "That 70s Show"), Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”), Liz Cackowski (also from “SNL”), even scene-stealing British comic Russell Brand, who regularly has appeared on television over in Jolly Ol’.
Naturally, it’s hardly set in stone that anyone will remember “Forgetting” cast members beyond its theatrical run. Let’s face it, eminently successful TV-to-film graduates such as George Clooney (“ER,” “Roseanne,” “The Facts of Life”) and Bruce Willis (“Moonlighting”) remain few and far between.
Just ask Matt LeBlanc. After all, isn’t the former “Friends” star still “Lost in Space” somewhere?
**Read more articles by John Urbancich**