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TCA Press Tour: Matt Le Blanc gets real ... kind of

Leblanc What led Matt Le Blanc to sign on to the new Showtime comedy “Episodes,” in which the former “Friends” star plays, well, himself?

“Schwimmer said ‘no’ … so did Perry … so did Lisa,” Le Blanc joked during a panel at TCA’s press tour held at the Beverly Hilton when he wasn't joking about the girth of his penis.

In the new series, written and executive produced by David Crane (“Friends,” “Joey”) and Jeffrey Klarik (“Mad About You”), Le Blanc is recruited to star in a remake of a hit British series to the horror of its husband-and-wife screenwriting team.

In its transition to American television, the show about a headmaster of a boy’s boarding school, played by Richard Griffiths, gets a few minor (major) revisions; Le Blanc finds himself playing a hockey coach in “Pucks!” (exclamation point included to give it that extra American oompf).

An actor playing an actor is nothing new for the 43-year-old actor. For 12 years, he made audiences laugh as the dim-witted bit lovable Joey Tribbiani on “Friends” and its two-season spinoff, “Joey.”

But Le Blanc wants to make one thing clear before viewers confuse this character with reality: He’s playing himself … but he’s not really playing himself.

“[‘Matt’] is not really myself,” he said. “It's a character that Jeff and David wrote that happens to have the same name … there are some similarities, but for the most part it’s a fictitious character.”

But all those “How you doin’?” references that have plagued him since “Friends” wrapped are all too real — and welcomed — and highlighted in the series, a Showtime and BBC collaboration.

“I got a couple on the way in,” Le Blanc said. “My job is to make you believe what I’m saying. … If people really believe me as that character, then in my opinion I’ve done my job. I don’t look at it as a negative thing. It tends to happen a lot.”

“Episodes” premieres at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 10 on Showtime.

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo credit: Showtime

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I hope this show is good, but I do not subscribe to Showtime which means I will probably have to wait until December 2010 to get on Netflix.


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