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Months of Meryl: THE RIVER WILD

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Weirdest News of '14 (Thus Far): Greta Gerwig To Headline 'How I Met Your Mother' Spinoff

It's almost like the universe is punishing me. For what I am unsure.

Greta Gerwig with a giant poster of her face this time last year

When I spoke with Greta Gerwig a few months ago she was singing the praises of Jacques Demy films and Leos Carax's Holy Motors and the movie musical; her indie cred was most definitely intact, she's actually a cinephile (unlike many actors) and her taste is impeccable. She was starring in stupendous music videos, keeping prestigious company in awards season, and coming off the high of a great run with the brilliant Frances Ha.

And now she'll follow all that with a spin-off of a formulaic old school sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" that's already many years past the season (5) where even the best shows start to falter from fatigue and stagnation?I understand that money is a powerfully motivating factor in most careers. I don't begrudge Gerwig a cash-in but I thought that that was what that dumb Arthur remake was for? I mean a sitcom on the most traditional of networks that's not even an original? Greta Gerwig with a laugh track? I'm so depressed.

Word is that she'll be producing, writing and starring which is smart given her talents but why not use them on something original? Why waste the Gerwigian gift on that format and for that franchise? The problem with sitcoms is that there is no return if they're picked up. When was the last time you saw, oh I dunno, Zooey Deschanel or Kat Dennings headlining a movie or even thought of as "actresses" rather than just celebrities? I'm aware that it is possible to do both TV and film simultaneously and successfully (Melissa McCarthy & Jason Segel) but it is most definitely not the norm.

Greta Gerwig had so much more to offer the movies. One hopes that her Untitled Public School Project with Noah Baumbach is finished and that its a beautiful cinematic swansong.

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Reader Comments (29)

if i was drinking something i would've done a spit-take. (which, incidentally is the kinda comedy that she'll now be doing on a CBS sitcom.)
no, greta. just say no.
whatever the hell shia labeouf has been doing lately makes more sense than this decision. all words are failing me...

February 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterabstew

While it has been years since HIMYM was good, when it was good, it was pretty great, laugh track or no laugh track. So when the "spin-off" was announced, I was hopeful that with a slightly fresh slate, the creators would be able to weave their magic once again. And with Gerwig slated to star, write, and produce... I'm even more hopeful. Plus weekly Gerwig. This was good news for me all around.

February 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

This seems like a wonderful opportunity to me. She gets to produce, write, and star in a network show. Besides the money (which would be a good reason by itself) she gets a bigger platform than she probably could have ever imagined. Melissa McCarthy is on a sitcom and still has a thriving film career. This could actually in a roundabout way create more interesting film work for Greta. Plus to be given that much creative input must be a thrill for her. I could care less that this is a spinoff. She will be making more money than she ever dreamed of if this show ends up having a good run. A network show on cbs means money money money. So even if she was selling out I'd say you go Glen Coco!

February 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTy

I understand the principle of what you're saying and I think if she is reduced to simple formulaic comedy with no other creative output then by all means get the knives out however more and more that is not the model. Garden State wasn't perfect but it was a good film from Zach Braff, Josh Radnor wrote a couple of reasonable - if not for being a little slow - indie films while appearing in the same Gerwig vehicle. John Gallagher Jr is amazing in both Newsroom and short term 12 and while I understand that isn't exactly the same comparison my point is let's see what she does before we criticise what we think she is doing.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRaffy

I wish if she is going to star in the sitcom, at the very least, it should be an original and not a spin off. What makes me confused is that I don't think her humor sensibility matches with "How I Met.." Style? And with laughing track ??? I don't get it.

I feel really bad for saying this cause I love her but I hope this doesn't get picked up:(((( but if it turns out to be great, I will be happy for her. I wish she will just alternate between studio movies and indies but not weekly tv.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

See what happens when the Globes make good choices? Oh my. On a hopeful note though, the new mom episode was the best HIMYM in ages so is it possible this could be worth watching?

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

That project is born dead. I guarantee that the people won't watch the spin-off and it will get quickly canceled as everyone has already grown excessively sick of the original, which is kind of junk itself.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKareem

Doesn't it feel like a spin off in name only , much like That 80s Show was a spin off from That 70s Show? It does not sound like any characters will be moving across and with Greta having creative control it might be interesting and edgy ? I don't know . And sometimes spin offs don't last very long on tv. The last really successful one I remember is Frasier

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Yuck. I am hoping this post is just a hallucination from my migraine medication.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

It's a curious move, sure, but isn't this post a little hyperbolic? She's not dead. And since when is indie cred something to be considered so seriously, let alone tracked like the stock market?

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave

@Rami The same director as HIMYM is directing it and she is dreadful. Jokes might be a little better, but the show will still likely suck.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKareem

I wouldn't be surprised if the show wasn't very good. You'll have Greta back as indie queen in no time.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

I personally think It's a risky move, and it's a dilemma for me. On one hand, I wish she would do a good job for this, she's talented and deserves every success she might get. But on the other hand, I fear this success will permanently brand her as her sitcom character. She has not built a solid enough body-of-work in movies for people to remember her as a movie star or movie actress before venturing into TV world. If her show is a success and continue for a few years, she might come out like Jennifer Aniston or Sarah Jessica Parker where people only see Rachel and Carrie in every role of theirs no matter how many movies they starred in post-Friends and post-SATC. Unless you are the Kathy Bates or Sally Field type, where you were already so famous prior starring in your TV shows that people knew you as multi-talented movie stars, few TV actresses survived the typecast.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Have you seen (actually, I should say "read", there's no video, sadly) the Hollywood Reporter's "Berlin Roundtable: 6 Actors on Fears and Fighting for Roles"? It features Greta, Diane Kruger, Michelle Yeoh, Ken Duken, George MacKay and Sam Riley and is quite a nice read.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteranna

I know I should be mad about this, but part of me is pretty excited to get a performer as thrilling and transcendent as Greta on a weekly basis. Say what you will about HIMYM's latter years, but it has a pretty solid history behind it, so I'm perhaps not as worried about the quality of the thing as everyone else seems to be. Also, I don't understand the argument that this is the end of Greta's film career, since her frequent collaborator and boyfriend is a prominent indie director who clearly loves working with her. And has anyone considered that maybe Greta is planning to use all this sitcom money to make more Greenbergs, Frances Has, and Untitled School Projects, which god knows aren't the easiest sort of movies to get off the ground?

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Eng

I knew when this news was announced that there would be an article about it here, lol. Having only seen Gerwig in Greenberg and hearing about her other work, I have no personal stake in this but I think this can go either way for her. The thing about Kate Dennings and Zooey Deschanel is that neither of them were headlining movies (Hell, Dennings was only ever the co-lead of Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist and that was three years before her sitcom started), so they went to TV for more opportunities. Now I'm not saying they'll be able to jump back to movies but since they weren't getting the roles they deserved to begin with, is that really such a bad thing?

Grewig, on the other hand, is in a weird position where she IS headlining films but they aren't mainstream or widely known. This sitcom could expose her to a whole new audience and make her an even bigger star than she would've been with just those indies. However, it could get her trapped as a "TV actress" and she might lose her "indie cred". Ultimately, I think if she continues to do smaller films and her sitcom then she'll be fine. If she wants to do the sitcom and be a mainstream film star, though, then it'll be a bumpy road. We'll see...

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

Dave -- no, she's not dead but tell me when was the last time a lauded movie actor came back to the movies after venturing into sitcoms.

Matthew - and where exactly would she find the time to do this if the sitcom is a hit? People like Jason Segel and Melissa McCarthy who do both simultaneously are the exception. They're not the norm.

February 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

But why can't she be the exception? Greta Gerwig seems like the type of actress who would totally spend her off-months working on any indie she can, and those aren't exactly the most time-consuming projects to make.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Eng

Let me just say this: If there is any actress out there who COULD pull this off, it's Greta Gerwig. I'm excited about the prospect, as I think her quirky humor and smarts could potentially be a good fit for a sitcom, and it will be interesting to see her stretch her writing talents to work in this format. It's quite possible that she wanted to do this to stretch herself and try something new. Actually, I can't even be all that sad about it since I will gladly take Greta weekly even if it's not always at the level of Frances Ha. At the very least, this will be an interesting experiment for her.

And I will also say that, at its best (which has been quite often over the course of its run), How I Met Your Mother did not exactly fit the mold of "formulaic old school sitcom".

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

"(She) would totally spend her off-months working on any indie she can, and those aren't exactly the most time-consuming projects to make."

I highly disagree.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKareem

I first read about this development somewhere else and my first thought was, "Oh man, Nathaniel is going to LOSE HIS SHIT!" Thank you for not disappointing.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

On the one hand, who even considers Melissa McCarthy a sitcom actress these days? I mean, Mike & Molly? Nobody cares about that show. Nobody.

However, on the other hand... I mean, you just have to look at Lena Dunham to see that you can write/produce/star in a comedy and not have it be a big network pap. Hell, even VEEP would be a great model to emulate. And now TV appears to have sucked up Anna Faris as well so that's two great movie comediennes that are now trapped on all sides by laugh tracks.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Glenn -- but Girls and Veep are pay cable with way more artistic freedom. I'd be thrilled if Gerwig wanted a paycheck and went there.

February 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I think what makes me hopeful that she'll be able to do both movies and tv is that they're already moving production from LA to New York. If they're willing to move production of a show from coast to coast, who says they won't work around a movie shooting schedule?

Also, NYC production means it would be easy to pick up a bunch of guest stars from Broadway stages.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Also a sitcom schedule is very forgiving. Even though she'll be wearing several hats they still will only film one day a week. Also in the long run this work will subsidize her more daring ventures. She has the ability to generate her own material as she's proven before with tiny budgets and that will never change. I just don't see this as anything other than a positive. It's not like she's playing the girlfriend in a Two and a Half Men spinoff. Don't be so snobby y'all. Opportunities like this one are very rare. HBO is notoriously cheap Nathaniel and very much a grind because they don't give you a somewhat decent working schedule till you're like five seasons in and even then you're still getting paid in artistic freedom and not much else.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTy

Following Andy's point I did just realize that this means Greta will probably be shooting on the streets on NYC a lot, so maybe I'll be able to see her around slash stalk her now. Looking for the positives!

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJA

I still haven't seen Frances Ha, but I feel immediately sorry and despairing for anyone associated with a spinoff of How I Met Your Mother. Terrible, terrible show. How did this ever stay on the air so long. NPH must be getting paid well for this.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I loved her in Greenberg, but I could not stand Frances Ha. I usually seek out reviews when I seem to be at complete odds with the opinions of the websites I frequent, but I have yet to find a review that makes me go "Yeah, I understand why they liked it even though I didn't."

And as public school teacher myself, just the words " Untitled Public School Project with Noah Baumbach" makes me cringe.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjtagliere

"I'm aware that it is possible to do both TV and film simultaneously and successfully (Melissa McCarthy & Jason Segel) but it is most definitely not the norm."

It hasn't been the norm, but we're getting there, and a talent like Gerwig can help break down those walls. Of course, it also would help if filmies wouldn't write off someone for daring to star on a *gasp* network sitcom (with all due love and respect for your kneejerk reaction). I say that as a huge fan of both "Frances Ha" and "HIMYM," even in its latter days. It's not perfect, but it's a damn sight more creative than most network shows, and with Emily Spivey and Gerwig joining the writing/producing side of "HIMYD," too, I have no reason not to hope for the best.

February 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChip

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