Just before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the U.S., comedian/actress Sarah Silverman moved to New York to work through the final stages of adapting her memoir The Bedwetter into a Broadway musical with Fountains of Wayne‘s Adam Schlesinger.
The longtime friends had been working on the show for more than seven years together, and on Tuesday (Nov. 17), Silverman described how the exciting move intended to cap the project’s long gestation turned dark almost as soon as she moved into her Airbnb.
“Me and the two writers and the director got together and did a table read just right before we started rehearsals the next Monday and then, like, the next day everything shut down,” Silverman told Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show. “And then a couple days after that my writing partner [Adam Schlesinger] was texting me, ‘Oh my God… I think I’ve got this f–kin’ thing. I have like a 103 fever and I have a cough! But I can’t get a test anywhere.”
Silverman said she’d been working on the lyrics to the show with the Emmy-winning FOW co-founder for nearly a decade — who also wrote all the music to the show — and then just a few days after that initial text he updated her with more grim news.
“‘You’re not gonna believe where I am. I’m in the f–king hospital with COVID!,'” Schlesinger told her. “‘Like, I have pneumonia from COVID.'”
The comedian was shocked by the news and kept up a text string with Schlesinger, 52, but at some point he stopped responding. “And I got really nervous [because] he didn’t respond, so I called the hospital and the hospital said, ‘Oh he was discharged today,” she told Stern, adding that she fired off a mock angry text to Schlesinger scolding him for not telling her he’d been sent home.
As it turned out, though, that was wrong information. As Schlesinger’s condition worsened he was transferred to a COVID-only hospital.
“And then he was immediately put on a ventilator,” Silverman said, at which point Schlesinger’s girlfriend, Alexis Morley, continued to update the show’s team about his condition every day. “They were trying this experimental thing and then three days in a row he got incrementally better but the doctor said, ‘be cautiously optimistic,’ and then the next day, April 1st, he died.”
Months later, Silverman said she’s “still in shock” over the death of a friend who she never saw sick for even a day. What’s odd to think about today is that the whole show team were together, and Schlesinger was with his daughters and girlfriend, but none of them ever got sick. “There’s no pattern to this thing,” Silverman said.
Schlesinger died of coronavirus complications on April 1.