David Faustino could barely curb his enthusiasm.
After a string of personal and professional woes left the diminutive former star of Fox’s “Married … With Children” without a career and next to broke, it seemed too good to be true: A movie studio wanted a big-screen version of the raunchy television series that ended in 1997.
The reunion called for Faustino’s successful former cast mates to reprise their original roles. But at the cast read with Ed O’Neill, Katey Sagal and Christina Applegate, he discovers he’s now “the pizza guy,” and some other actor will assume his old role as Bud Bundy.
The movie idea is a joke, the kind that audiences can expect from “Star-ving,” a raunchy Web-only comedy series on Crackle.com, an online video network backed by Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Faustino plays an exaggerated version of himself in the series, which he wrote and developed with several friends.
“This is a very twisted take on what I’ve been through all these years,” Faustino said.
Faustino grew up on the Fox comedy, starting on the series when he was 12. When the show ended, work did not come easily.
“It was a combination of typecasting and my own demons,” he said. “There are roles I could have gotten, but there were just lots of opportunities that I just blew on my own.”
He got by on guest shots and appearances on shows such as “Celebrity Fit Club.”
Through it all, he remained friends with most of his former costars, whose careers took off. O’Neill starred in several movies and television series. Sagal starred in several TV shows and is currently featured in FX’s “Sons of Anarchy.” Applegate, a veteran of TV and Broadway (“Sweet Charity”), stars in ABC’s “Samantha Who?”
When Faustino was developing “Star-ving,” he enlisted O’Neill’s help, aware that an appearance by his TV father would help boost the chances for the show to be picked up.
“At first I was skeptical about being involved in this,” O’Neill said. “I just didn’t know whether it would be funny or not. But when I saw where they were going, I thought it was really funny, and I jumped on board. I was glad to help – David is a really nice guy.”
Executives for Crackle are positioning “Star-ving” as their signature series, hoping that the comedy does for their venture what “Married … With Children” did for Fox.
“We really see this as the next generation of TV networks,” said Eric Berger, senior vice president of digital networks for Sony Pictures Television. The show, like other Crackle series, is targeting the 18-to-34 male demographic.
Faustino says “Star-ving” gives him an artistic freedom unavailable even on a cable network.
“I feel like I’m on the ground floor of something, and if I can make a living doing this, that would make it all the better,” he said.
The birthday bunch
Singer Bobby “Blue” Bland is 79. Actor James Cromwell is 69. Drummer Nick Mason of Pink Floyd is 64. Dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov is 61. Actress Mimi Rogers is 53. TV commentator Keith Olbermann is 50. Singer Margo Timmins of Cowboy Junkies is 48. Actress Bridget Fonda is 45. Actor Alan Cumming is 44. Rapper Tricky is 41. Guitarist Michael Kulas of James is 40.