Forced to move home after a breakup, 28-year-old Justin Halpern found himself back in the throes of his 73-year-old father Sam Halpern's brutally honest witticisms. Justin started writing down all the crazy shit his dad said, thought his friends might want to see, and created a twitter account, "shitmydadsays." Virtually overnight, the Twitter account had hundreds of thousands of followers, and now up to 1,774,629 (and counting), more than a million people sign in to read Sam Halpern's latest quip. Capitalizing on the phenomenon, Justin got a book deal with Harper Collins, followed by a TV show with Will & Grace producers, Max Mutchnick and David Kohan on CBS.
A true example of the present-day American Dream in our world of social media, the aspiring TV writer went from tweeter, to book writer, to co-creator, co-executive producer and writer for his very own TV show in less than a year.
I spoke with Justin on the phone and discussed how all of this got started, his crazy dad and his new TV show $#*! My Dad Says starring William Shatner, the fourth episode of which is on tonight on CBS at 8:30 EST, following The Big Bang Theory.
Justin's book, Sh*t My Dad Says, documents real stories from his childhood.
On how the TV show is different:
Well, the book is not fiction, it's just a very raw telling of my experience with my father and what I think a lot of other people's experiences with their fathers were. And then the show, the thing for me was -- anybody playing my dad, if they're trying to play my dad, feels like a bastardized version of the book and my dad. I don't want to see anyone pretending to be my dad. And my dad doesn't want to see anyone pretending to be him. And so I was like this needs to have a life of its own, and I love those really old school sitcoms, like All in the Family, Married with Children, Cheers, Seinfeld -- those are my favorite shows of all time, and I thought it'd be really fun to be able to do an old school sitcom that's unapologetically old school, and that's what we are going for.
Justin told me that while not all the stories from the show are true, "they'll come from a real place," so I matched up some of the story he told me with clips from the new show.
Let's see how real it really is!