British TV duo join Matt LeBlanc comedy

Actress Claire Forlani, a cast member in the new film "Ripley Under Ground", arrives at the world premiere of the film at the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival in Los Angeles, California November 6, 2005.

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - British actors Claire Forlani and Stephen Mangan will co-star opposite Matt LeBlanc on Showtime/BBC’s comedy series “Episodes.”

The project, which has a seven-episode order, revolves around a successful British husband-and-wife comedy team (Forlani, Mangan) thrilled by the prospect of producing a U.S. version of their hit series.

But they soon are forced to replace the erudite British lead in the original with the quintessential U.S. comedy star, Matt LeBlanc, who is playing a version of himself.

They begin to sink deeper into the quicksand that is the Hollywood TV business, ruled by a legion of network and studio executives, including the smart head of programing (Kathleen Rose Perkins).

“Episodes,” from “Friends” co-creator David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, is slated to start production in early May for a premiere on Showtime and BBC 2. The series is enjoying strong early buzz after a well-received promo featuring LeBlanc auditioning to play himself on the show.

In the U.S., Forlani most recently appeared in a recurring role on CBS’ “CSI: NY.”