Remembering the lives of Garry Shandling and Phife Dawg

JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, we note the passing this week of two groundbreaking artists of the entertainment world.

Jeffrey Brown has our remembrance.

JEFFREY BROWN: In his first influential sitcom, Garry Shandling would break character and speak directly to the audience.

GARRY SHANDLING, Comedian: I feel like I'm on Gilligan's Island. I can't get off this date.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNNY CARSON, The Tonight Show: Would you welcome Garry Shandling?

JEFFREY BROWN: He'd started in stand-up, and been a fill-in host for Johnny Carson. And in 1992, he created his own mock late-night show, "The Larry Sanders Show," that subverted the form.

ALEC BALDWIN, Actor: Well, actually, Larry, you and I have something in common.

GARRY SHANDLING: Yes? Yes, we do.

(LAUGHTER)

GARRY SHANDLING: A lot of you probably don't know that Alec and I — well, Alec used to actually date my ex-wife, Francine.

ALEC BALDWIN: No, I was referring to our charity work with multiple sclerosis.

(LAUGHTER)

GARRY SHANDLING: I know.

JEFFREY BROWN: He pioneered a kind of meta-humor and both featured, and influenced, a generation of up-and-coming comedians.

Earlier this year, Sanders joined his friend Jerry Seinfeld on his Web series "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," where they discussed the impact of "The Larry Sanders Show."

JERRY SEINFELD, Comedian: You ever watch TV, "The Office," "Modern Family," and go, oh, look, they're still doing me? They're still doing that thing I invented?

GARRY SHANDLING: I knew when I explained to HBO what I wanted to do, I couldn't say, it's a little bit of this show and a little bit of that show. I couldn't even do that. And I mean, they thought I was crazy.

JEFFREY BROWN: Among many others, last night, Conan O'Brien recalled Shandling's personal kindness.

CONAN O'BRIEN, Host, Conan: He was also extremely sensitive. He was complicated, and he had a ton of empathy for other people. And I want to make that point. That is something in the business, in comedy, that is very rare. He really did care about other people.

JEFFREY BROWN: Garry Shandling died of an apparent heart attack in Los Angeles yesterday. He was 66.

Another innovator who helped reshape his artistic landscape was Malik Taylor, better known as Phife Dawg. He and childhood friend, Jonathan, AKA Q-Tip, helped found the seminal hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, known for its socially-conscious lyrics and innovative music.

MICHAEL RAPAPORT, Director, "Beats, Rhymes and Life": For a lot of people, A Tribe Called Quest was our Beatles, our Rolling Stones, our Led Zeppelin.

JEFFREY BROWN: The group was the subject of a 2011 documentary called "Beats, Rhymes and Life" by actor and director Michael Rapaport, who spoke with us via Skype.

MICHAEL RAPAPORT: When Q-Tip and Phife were in sync, it was as good as anything. It was as good as your favorite piece of pizza, the best glass of wine.

JEFFREY BROWN: The group's 1991 album "Low End Theory" fused hip-hop and jazz, and along with "Midnight Marauders," influenced a generation of rappers and producers.

PHARRELL WILLIAMS, Musician: We wouldn't be here, man, if it wasn't like for Tribe albums. You got it.

JEFFREY BROWN: Phife Dawg died of complications with diabetes. He was 45 years old.