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11. Sometimes Less Is More

Tiny budgets can be inspiring.

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Party Down


The per-episode budget of Party Down, now in its second season on Starz, is less than half of what a typical network sitcom costs ($1.5 million and up). But that’s all the Party Down creators—John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge, and Paul Rudd—could get for their deadpan series about failed actors slumming as L.A. cater-waiters. And in a way, that’s amped up the comedy—as in the ticky-tacky events Party Down caters. “You’ll notice we don’t do many extraordinarily large functions,” says Enbom.“We can’t usually afford more than 30 or 40 extras. So a big part of our writing process became how we could find parties that don’t have anybody at them.” For example, this season, the catering crew shows up at Steve Guttenberg’s house only to find he’d canceled his party. “It’s just them hanging out at Guttenberg’s house, and nobody else is there,” says Enbom. “So, yeah, we were psyched that it was kind of a ridiculous party to have and, you know, big savings.” The show solved the problem of luring quality actors at below their normal fee by promising that, like caterers, they could leave if a more lucrative gig came along. Jane Lynch, for instance, started season one having already signed to play Sue Sylvester on Glee. “We had an understanding that she could be taken away with a week’s warning. We wanted Jane in the show so badly, we were happy to take the chance,” says Enbom. If the show gets renewed for a third season, they have a potentially bigger problem: Adam Scott and Ryan Hansen both have new jobs (Hansen is in the new NBC sitcom Friends With Benefits). “We’re certainly victims of our business model,” says Enbom. “But we want to keep going, so we’ll consider all options.”

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