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“It would be like, ‘She’s sitting on the couch, her arms are crossed, so does she or doesn’t she want me to make a pass?
'” The now happily married Engel, has turned his past wishful thinking into an NBC sitcom, “Inside Schwartz,” about a recently dumped sports nut with a parrot named Larry Bird and lots of bad dates.
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When “Inside Schwartz” creator Stephen Engel was in college, dating was relatively easy. “I didn’t have a lot of experience formally calling women and asking them out,” he says.
” When Schwartz pines for his ex, Hall of Famer Dick Butkus pops up and advises, “Trust me, Adam, it’s over.” When Schwartz’s Jewish best friend, Julie Hermann (played by Jewish actress Miriam Shor) gazes into his eyes, Butkus razzes him to kiss her (he doesn’t listen).
While the 20-something Engel was a lawyer and wannabe writer, Schwartz is a wannabe sportscaster stuck working for his dad.
“Inside Schwartz” came about when Engel decided to experiment with the sitcom format and thought it would be funny to merge the grandiose field of sports with a person’s private life.
“Sports coverage is so pompous,” he says, with a laugh.
When a blind date announces she has four kids, an umpire blows a whistle and shouts, “Too many players on the field!And while most TV shows pair Jewish characters with gentile love interests — ostensibly for dramatic conflict — “Schwartz” may be the first sitcom in which two appealing young Jews generate romantic tension. “I’m Jewish, and the character is basically an exaggerated version of me,” he says. Y., the now 40-year-old Engel was as sports-obsessed as Schwartz.He shot hoops daily, fantasizing that he was a Knicks star and that sports announcer Marv Albert broadcast his every move.He doesn’t get much help from his agent, William Morris (Dondre Whitfield), an African American who uses Yiddishisms like bubbaleh, “because that’s how he thinks agents talk,” Engel says.Engel is not the first Jewish writer to make a gag of his life; but unlike “Seinfeld” and “Mad About You” characters, who were Jewish by innuendo, Schwartz makes his heritage clear in the first couple of minutes of the pilot.