THE FRAN AND FRANK SHOW: Fran Lebowitz is working on a talk show with HBO. Let that sink in. Consider the possibility of a night spent with “Game of Thrones” and Fran. She could do a monologue and animal segments. Maybe a top 10 list of Jerome Robbins productions. Instead of asking guests about their new movie, they would ask her to sound off on current events or gentrification.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
Frank Rich said the show is only in early development. “It’s really in formation,” he said last week from Las Vegas, where he and Lebowitz held a conversation for a paying audience. Since Oct. 10, the two have been on the road with a Q&A buddy act and will appear in six cities overall; on Saturday, they appeared at the Town Hall in New York.
The two have been friends for more than 30 years. Eight years ago, they appeared on Charlie Rose’s show and had “the same kind of conversation we’d had in private,” said Rich. The topic was “the hope for progress in American politics and the role of religion in the administration.”
It was suggested they could replicate that conversation in an event format, and their mutual agent Steven Barclay set it up.
With the election coming up, there was plenty of material to talk about. “It just sort of happened. It’s been such a frantic year, and other people wanted us to do it,” Rich said.
Lebowitz has a lot of free time on her hands. After wrestling with one of the most famous cases of writers’ block, she has instead taken up jobs that play to her strengths, like prosecutorial questioning — she’s portrayed a judge on “Law & Order” — and mouthing off. She’s never been short of opinions.
“Her art form is speaking in public,” Rich said. That was the subject of a 2010 HBO documentary about her, “Public Speaking,” directed by Martin Scorsese. To promote that film, she went on a Q&A tour through towns like Silver Spring, Md.
The Rich-Lebowitz talks are an hour each and roll with the day’s headlines. “We have a free-flowing conversation about the news, the political season, our thoughts on various things going on in America,” Rich said.
The idea for a talk show happened separate to their current tour. They started discussing the possibility after the documentary premiered, Rich said. He has a consulting contract with HBO; he’s one of the executive producers of the Emmy award-winning “Veep.”
When it will finally come together, Rich doesn’t know. “I don’t have a timetable,” he said. But mainly because developing television shows takes time, not due to Lebowitz’ legendary procrastination.
Only one thing is certain: “I won’t be having an on-camera role,” Rich said.