“The Writers’ Room”: Jim Rash tackles TV’s biggest series in Sundance Channel talk show

Television is often called a writer’s medium these days, but it’s rare that we actually get to see any writers onscreen. Sundance Channel and Jim Rash — along with Entertainment Weekly — are out to change that with The Writers’ Room.

Taking the staffs of some of today’s hottest shows — Breaking Bad, Dexter, Game of Thrones, Parks and Recreation, American Horror Story and New Girl — the six-episode series puts them in a roundtable format (think Real Time with Bill Maher minus the politics) to give an in-depth, unfiltered look into how they make the choices they do, and what makes the shows stand out.

Leading the discussions is Rash who, in addition to being an actor (Community) and comedian, is a fair writer himself, having won an Academy Award for The Descendants (Remember his attempt at an Angelina Jolie leg pose during his acceptance speech?) and also co-writing The Way Way Back, which he also co-directed with Nat Faxon.

“I’m just always curious about everyone’s approach,” Rash says, adding that he is personally a big fan of all the shows featured. “I think writers all have little tricks of the trade, and you’re always learning and trying to become better, so I’m always into educating myself. It was a perfect fit for me.”

Topics up for discussion will not only include how stories we all know got made, but also rejected storylines — an area Rash says makes for some of the most entertaining talk. And the show won’t be completely without star power either, as actors such as Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Jake Johnson (New Girl) and Lily Rabe (American Horror Story) will pop up to give their perspective on what it’s like working with the writers and having to bring what they write to life.

While audiences mainly know Rash as the quirky Dean Pelton on Community, who displays various levels of creepiness depending on the episode, offscreen he is pretty much a normal guy. So … how is that going to play with fans of the dean?

“I don’t know,” Rash says. “Only time will tell. I appreciated getting to do this because I got to be probably a little bit more me. It’s fun playing the dean, I love doing it, but it’s also fun to show another side of me. I think that hopefully they won’t be like, ‘Oh, now I don’t like him.’”

The Writers’ Room airs 10pm Mondays beginning July 29 on Sundance Channel. 

Jim Rash Vince Gilligan Bryan Cranston The Writers Room Sundance Channel
Jim Rash (left) chats with Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” on Sundance Channel’s “The Writers’ Room.”

Photo: Credit: Mark Peterson