Phil Hartman’s Lost Comedy Album -‘Flat TV’- Will Be a Movie

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The untimely death of Phil Hartman prevented many potentially great projects from seeing the light of day. For example, there isn’t a Simpsons’ fan alive that doesn’tunfrozencavemanlawyer regret the fact that we’ll never get to see Hartman in that live-action Troy McClure movie. This nagging reminder of what could have been is only exacerbated by projects that seem like little more than cheap cash-ins.

 Splitsider is reporting that “Flat TV” – a 40 minute comedy album Hartman recorded in the late 70s’ that wasn’t released until 2002 – is being developed into an animated movie. The movie – much like the album- will consist of “sketches written by and starring Hartman that revolve around a dysfunctional family, [and the] TV shows they consume interspersed throughout”.

At best “Flat TV” was an interesting curio, an early peek into a great comedic mind that was still developing its voice. At its worst it was just another sketch comedy album from the 70s. No better or worse than anything The Firesign Theater or The Credibility Gap produced. But no matter what it was, it wasn’t a movie. If anything, the “Flat TV” movie sounds eerily similar to last year’s “A Liar’s Autobiography” another animated cash-grab that exploited the late Monty Python member Graham Chapman.



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  • Paul Hartman

    Hello Michael

    I am one of the producers of this project and also Phil’s brother. Everyone has an opinion, but clearly you know nothing about what we are doing or have been doing in Phil’s name, such as the Phil Hartman Arts and Humanitarian Award, given to a company or individual who betters their community through the arts. The Phil Hartman Comedy Award. Given out at the Canadian Comedy Awards to a Canadian comedian who has given more to the comedy community than just laughs, such as public service or who has acted as an ambassador to comedy. We also spent the last three years lobbying for Phil Hartman to get his star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, which we accomplished last year and this is only achieved by fans votes un-like the Hollywood star which is pay to play. WE not only got him a star, but he also received the Cineplex Legends Award, the only time someone has received both a star and the Cineplex Award. We have spearheaded a book about Phil that will come out 2014, as well as developing three other Phil Hartman projects. Oh and all for NO MONEY! Just cash out of pocket! A money grab!? Where is it? Because for the last seven years it has only been money out. Knowledge is power and clearly your statement is based on ignorance so it is powerless. Projects like Flat TV are not big money projects and they run strictly on a production budget of under $3,000,000.00. No one is getting rich on that, but a crew of very talented artists would be able to make a living for a year. Our intention is to make an art piece that pays homage to my brother and his artistic sensibilities. For his fans and for us.

    I am sure you have NO IDEA what it is like to have a brother like Phil. I spent two thirds of my life with him and one third without him now and the pain of his absence drives me to do these things. I do it to heal myself and to heal Phil’s Fans as we all hurt deeply.

    So next time the opportunity arises to write something, do your home work like Phil would, and learn what the motivation is that makes things happen in what you writing about. Understand the topic and the players and someday you will be as great a person as Phil was because you will really care about what it is you are doing and you will do it with love and honour like Phil. Feel free to e mail me. Thanks you for your time and your support. No such thing as bad press. I support free opinion and yours is dually noted.

    Best Regards

    Paul Hartmann

  • Michael Sullivan

    First things first, I respect your brother Phil and still feel that his loss is felt not only within the world of comedy but the world as a whole. Secondly, I never questioned the charitable organizations or other projects you developed in your brother’s name, I merely questioned Flat TV. Posthumous projects like this leave a bad taste in my mouth simply because they’re developed without the consent or approval of the deceased.

    Obviously, I’m in no position to say whether or not Phil would have preferred to have Flat TV rediscovered on CD or eventually turned into an animated movie. I didn’t know him. But I suspect that Peter Sellers would have preferred not to have been a part of Trail of the Pink Panther and maybe Fred Astaire would have felt a little uncomfortable with seeing an eerie CGI image of himself shilling vacuum cleaners.

    I think your heart is in the right place with this project but, speaking as a fan, I wouldn’t be healed by Flat TV, I’d be offended by it.

    Incidentally, I may not have a brother like Phil but I do know what it’s like have a brother and I know what loss can do to a person.

  • Angel Rosenthal

    I am one of the producers as well, and Paul’s business partner. First and foremost though, I am a fan – actually, beyond a fan of Phil’s – as my title is Sr. Philologist. For thirteen years, I have studied Phil and his work. Three years ago, Paul found me on Facebook, and we soon became fast friends, lost siblings from other parents, and partners. All because of Phil.

    No one knows if Phil would have wanted this project animated. We did know he wanted it recorded, as he did the work, recorded it, then left it as his career took off. But what we do know is this – Phil had a love of animation. It is evident in all the voice work he did, it is evident in the drawing and art work he created throughout his life. Coming together to animate Flat TV is a labour of love for all of us on the project. It is a way to bring Phil’s work again to the forefront; it is a way for all of us to celebrate him and his life and comedy. And it is a way for, as Paul mentioned, for each of us to heal, in knowing people will again be able to laugh, and enjoy, the work of this man taken much too soon.
    I am sorry you think this is a cash grab. I am sorry you do not understand that our motivation is not for money, but for simply bringing a bit of Phil’s lesser known work to his still very active and growing fan base. I have had the honour of being a shepherd of sorts for over three years to Phil’s fans all over social media, and not a day goes by when someone does not thank us for our work to make sure Phil is never forgotten. Not a day goes by when someone does not mourn him publicly. No a day goes by when each of us simply wishes he was sitting along side us, producing and creating with us.
    Again, sorry you disagree with our mission. Sorry you see it as something offensive. My advice: give a listen to the CD. Close your eyes, and visualize these characters coming to life on the screen. And laugh.
    I can guarantee Phil would smile if you simply lightened up, and allowed us all the ability to honour and celebrate this man.
    Angel Rosenthal
    COO and Sr. Philologist