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'Big Time in Hollywood, FL' is local in name only

Comedy Central's "Big Time in Hollywood, FL" doesn't exactly look like Hollywood, FL.

"Big Time in Hollywood, FL," a TV series premiering on Comedy Central Wednesday night, is a dark, vulgar comedy spiked with profanity, drug humor and very unsexy simulations of sex acts. It also happens to be wickedly funny.

And, make no mistake, its creators love the Broward County city that bears its name, even if its use is no more than a pun, and actually shooting the show in South Florida instead of Los Angeles remains merely a goal.

"I love the aesthetic of it. It's bright and warm, and makes some of these dark jokes safer to laugh at," says director Dan Schimpf, who suggested the name based on his memory of annual Christmas visits with his grandparents in Plantation.

Produced by Ben Stiller, "Big Time in Hollywood, FL" is the serialized saga of two 30-ish slacker brothers (played by Alex Anfanger, also a writer, and Lenny Jacobson) who are convinced that the amateur films shot in their parents' garage are their ticket to stardom in the other Hollywood. Their parents' decision to kick them out of the house and their humorously self-inflicted involvement in a shooting death sets in motion the story of the brothers' downward spiral.

Comedy Central calls the 10-episode season "a grand, dangerous journey in pursuit of their American dream."

Stiller makes a fine cameo in the premiere, which also introduces the show's excellent supporting cast, including Kathy Baker and Stephen Tobolowsky, as the boys' resolute and long-suffering parents, Cuba Gooding Jr., Michael Madsen, Jon Bass, and Marcus Giamatti. Amid the cartoonish humor, each character comes layered with potential storylines that the audience will be anxious to see peeled back.

The contrast between the quiet suburban orderliness of a place such as Hollywood and the grim "Miami Vice"-style story arc of Season 1 "is really important to the show, keeping it grounded," Schimpf says. "Plus, obviously there's the play on words. These are two characters who desire all the entertainment-industry glory, but they're in the wrong Hollywood."

Schimpf and Anfanger were best known for "Next Time on Lonny," a web series about the odd travails of a 20-something hipster's search for romance. The two still don't know how they got Comedy Central to put "Big Time in Hollywood, FL" on the air, but they have "big aspirations," which includes filming the show in South Florida, Anfanger says.

While the distinctions are likely to be noticed only by South Floridians, Schimpf says getting things such as architecture, plant life and street signs right are important.

"We wanted to shoot in Florida, and once we got there we got really, really excited," says Anfanger, who grew up near Los Angeles. Among the places they scouted were downtown Hollywood, Miami, the Keys and the Everglades, which Anfanger says is a perfect spot for the darker turns in the script.

Anfanger says scheduling the shooting in South Florida wasn't a good fit for many of the actors, and there may have been a reluctance on the part of Comedy Central, which produces shows in Los Angeles and New York, to spend extra money on two rookies.

"But, God willing, if we go to Season 2, we'll be anxious to shoot in Florida," Anfanger says.

"Big Time in Hollywood, FL" will premiere 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, on Comedy Central.

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