TCA: Can Matt LeBlanc Shed the Joey Curse?

Leblanc225.jpgJudging from this morning's Episodes panel, no, since the 150 or so television critics spent their time lobbing Friends-related questions at the star and executive producer David Crane (who also exec produced the NBC hit series). But give Matt LeBlanc some credit... he's trying, ever so gently, to shed the Joey image in his new Showtime playing himself.

In theory, playing "Matt LeBlanc" might be the best way to convince the world that Matt LeBlanc is his own entity, not just a vessel for Joey Tribbiani and his signature catchphrase "How you doin.'"

Until you realize that the Showtime/BBC series slightly fictionalizes Matt LeBlanc a la Curb Your Enthusiasm. And one of LeBlanc's actual problems that executive producers are choosing to carry into the series is how often the actor is recognized and mistaken for Joey Tribbiani. Episodes, which is an adaptation of a U.K. series, includes a steady stream of "How you doin's," a question that LeBlanc tried to convince critics that he does not actually mind hearing.

"I got a couple on the way in," LeBlanc confessed. "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."

So to recap: Matt LeBlanc is attempting to shed the character he played for 12 seasons total by playing a fictionalized version of himself in a television show as he tries to shed the character he played for 12 seasons total with a new television show. Time will tell whether Episodes, which premieres on Jan. 10, will help LeBlanc retire Joey. Or maybe this will just lead to a meta mindf*ck arc on General Hospital.


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