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From: rebarules1 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by host9/24/05 12:17 PM 
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Complain, worry, alienate

Larry David and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' are back

Friday, September 23, 2005; Posted: 2:33 p.m. EDT (18:33 GMT)

Larry David is ready for another season of hilariously narcissistic behavior on "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Tell Larry David how much you enjoyed the first couple episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," back for its fifth season Sunday, and his response is immediate.

"Wait, you didn't get the third? You should have gotten three," he says.

Well, no, but the first two were a delight.

"Good. I never know how people will react," David replies.

Such anxiety is familiar to viewers who know the writer-comedian-actor through the HBO series in which his character, also called Larry David, frets, kvetches and crashes heedlessly through social convention. (HBO, like CNN, is a division of Time Warner.)

That fictional Larry David is nothing like the original, according to the original himself.

"It's not my life. It has nothing to do with my life. Doesn't resemble my life in any way, shape or form," he said.

So the series about a successful writer-comedian-actor living and working in the Los Angeles area isn't about him at all?

"There are similarities, and I'm envious that he can say a lot of the things I want to say, but can't. That's one of the things why it's so much fun to do. You get to say these things you never say in life," David said.

Getting away with it

In the new 10-episode season, debuting 10 p.m. EDT Sunday, his unfettered comments are directed at colleagues, children, blacks, lesbians and, in one wonderful scene of matrimonial danger, his lovely and patient wife, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines).

Larry David worries that giving away plot details will spoil the comedy for viewers. There's no surprise in finding him back in fine, self-obsessed form and surrounded by his band of friends and rivals, including Wanda Sykes, Richard Lewis and Jeff Garlin as pal and agent Jeff Greene.

Guest stars this season include Ted Danson, Rosie O'Donnell, Mekhi Phifer, Shelley Berman, Paul Dooley, Bob Einstein and Kevin Nealon.

TV audiences became familiar with David's sensibility through "Seinfeld," the wildly successful NBC sitcom that starred Jerry Seinfeld as a man bemused by life's oddities and pitfalls. The guy in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is ready and willing to be driven nuts by them.

David, co-creator of "Seinfeld," said he didn't make a point of pushing the envelope further this season in exploring his character's darker side, but concedes he may have.

"The more an audience becomes familiar with what you're doing and the more they start to like it, the more you can get away with," said David.

An episode he's just been editing offers a case in point.

"I really wouldn't want to give it away, but I just witnessed something I did that could be considered slightly sociopathic," David told The Associated Press.

Working for a cause ... sort of

David and his wife Laurie are active in environmental causes.

In truth, he seems more eager to talk about his wife's activism than about his show or himself. Among other things, Laurie David is producing a program on global warming and started a "virtual march" with an online petition urging politicians to protect the environment.

The Stop Global Warming Virtual March on Washington, in conjunction with MTV's college network mtvU and continuing until Earth Day next April, also includes a sweepstakes in which the prize is David's hybrid car from "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Is he engaged in the cause as well?

"I'm engaged because she prevailed upon me to perform and write, that's how I'm engaged," he said. "And she donated my car without asking. My assistant told me about. She said, 'What are you going to do for a new car?' I said, 'What are you talking about?' She said, 'Your wife donated your car to the contest to stop global warming.'

"I picked up the phone and said, 'What the hell did you do to my car?' "

Sounds just like Larry David, real, fictional or somewhere in between.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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From: rebarules1 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by host9/26/05 12:18 PM 
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Who's Your Daddy, Larry?
By Gary Levin, USA TODAY

(Sept. 22) -- In past seasons, Larry David tried to sell a comedy to ABC, opened a restaurant with Ted Danson and played a lead role in "The Producers" on Broadway. Now, the fictionalized version of Seinfeld's co-creator thinks he may have been adopted, as HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" returns Sunday (10 p.m. ET/PT) after an 18-month break.

"People have often wondered how they'd feel if they were adopted," David says. "I think it's funny."

More than that, the season-long story arc provides ample room for his alter ego to say out loud what social custom forbids, and invite the wrath of nearly everyone around him as a result.

But don't confuse "Larry" with Larry, who inspired "Seinfeld's" George Costanza and earned a fortune Forbes estimates at $242 million from NBC's hit comedy.

"None of us are like our characters at all," insists Susie Essman, who plays the foul-mouthed wife of Larry's pal and is often asked to curse at fans.

"I aspire to be like that character," says David. "He's honest. It's the things I'm thinking but not saying."

After playing the prickly, tactless TV Larry for so long, the real Larry says he's more apt to speak up about "little things" in everyday life. The two Larrys share other quirks: The real one declined an invitation to promote "Curb" on The Tonight Show.

"It's awkward enough having lunch with someone you know in a restaurant, much less having a conversation with someone in front of 5 million people," he says. "Social experiences are fraught with discomfort."

But "if he was really like that character, he'd never be able to do the show," Essman says. He'd be too busy obsessing over petty injustices — including a racist dog, an unappetizing sandwich named in his honor at an L.A. deli, or the need to buy a brassiere for his bosomy housekeeper, all subjects of early episodes. (They're invented except for the racist dog, who barked only at a black employee in David's office.)

"Curb" starts with very detailed story outlines, and the entire season is written before any of it is filmed. But unlike most shows, nearly all the dialogue is improvised on the set, where the actors often crack each other up. "There's a sense of spontaneity, and no emphasis on jokes in this show," David says. "People generally talk the way they talk in life if you were in this particular situation."

The challenge is piecing together these loosely constructed scenes. "The biggest part of it is editing," David says. "It takes longer to edit one episode than to shoot it and write it."

Larry's main sparring partners are his fictional wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) and manager/pal Jeff (Jeff Garlin). But he meets his ultimate nemesis in Jeff's wife, Susie Greene (Essman).

With her, "Larry doesn't get away with anything," Essman says. "She's completely unimpressed with his accomplishments and his success. To her he's just one of her idiot husband's idiot friends."

A fan favorite, she pops up more frequently, in eight of this season's 10 episodes. Other guest stars include comedian Shelly Berman — who plays Larry's father, Nat — Dustin Hoffman (in the season finale), Rosie O'Donnell, Hugh Hefner and perennial players Danson, Wanda Sykes and Richard Lewis.

"I'd like to say this is our last year because it'll win us an Emmy," he jokes, a reference to Everybody Loves Raymond's posthumous win on Sunday. "But I don't know that far ahead. I'm putting off thinking about it. I need a little time to replenish."


From: rebarules1 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by host10/23/05 6:27 PM 
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Hey, Shelley Berman's phone is ringing again

Shelley Berman
Shelley Berman
(Beatrice de Gea / LAT)

By Paul Brownfield, Times Staff Writer

"I'm still not a peaceful man," Shelley Berman said a few weeks ago. "I'm still not able to behave…. When somebody says 'Relax,' that really makes me nervous."

The 80-year-old Berman, who is experiencing some bittersweet career redemption playing Larry David's alter-kocher father on the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm," was sitting in the den of a friend's house at the top of Country Club Estates, a development just up the 101 from the Berman place. It was the morning after he and his wife, Sarah, evacuated their Bell Canyon house during the Topanga fires, a hot, dry day; you could still smell smoke in the air. Fire trucks were parked in the local strip malls and there was ash on the ground. It was Shelley Berman weather — clear but worrisome.

"It's a good thing for me to have this interview," he said, "it's a good thing for me."

Season 5 of "Curb," which began late last month to continued fanfare tempered by its first sour critical notes, kicked off with Nat David suffering a stroke in a deli while eating the Larry David sandwich, white fish with sable, capers, onion and cream cheese. Later, in the hospital, he motions for Larry to come in close and whispers what the son hears as, "You're adopted."

The show isn't so much an attention-getting experience for Berman as an attention-resurrecting one. It means something to him — a great deal, in fact — that a car brings him to the set, that there's a chair with his name on the back. His was a career that played out in the public eye and then, suddenly and by degrees, came the vanishing. And Berman has never stopped worrying the question of why.

This, then, is how he sums up knocking over the room during the audition for the role of Larry David's father, after all these years: "Is that redemption? Well, it's part of redemption. Redemption is that finally people began to look at me and say, 'You know, he's not a prick.' "

A too-candid camera

THE story of Shelley Berman is that he was a great comic, an important comic, done in by a TV moment at a time when TV moments could still do you in, before television inured us to the inappropriate and the uncomfortable, before the raw feed of cable news and the hyperbolic reality of reality TV.

It sounds, in fact, like the leanest of footnotes: On a 1963 NBC documentary special called "Comedian Backstage," Berman was seen losing his temper after a show because a telephone rang backstage during one of his trademark telephone routines.

The documentary, seen today, is a fascinating piece of arcana, a kind of lost treasure — an hour with a comic at the height of his fame in Room 809 of the Diplomat Hotel in Miami as he prepares for opening night. At the time, Berman was a cultural force, on the leading edge of an epoch in stand-up that included Mort Sahl and Woody Allen and Lenny Bruce and Bob Newhart and Nichols and May, people who moved stand-up away from tuxedo-clad one-liners delivered in nightclubs and into coffeehouses, stoking conversation about the culture.

Berman was considered radical for the simple fact that rather than standing, he sat on a stool, and he didn't do jokes but contemporary situations, unburdening himself, a man slowly unraveling; he was the "devout coward."

He acted out phone calls before Newhart became equally and then more famous for them; if in Newhart's hands the absurdity grew from understatement, Berman could make the phone call a more perilous and emotionally charged journey into the unknown. He was the office worker calling the department store across the street to report a woman dangling from a ledge, who gets bounced from the complaint department to lingerie ("Describe her? What for? I'm looking at the building right now, she's the only one hanging out of a window.").

He was afraid or annoyed or anxious about lots of things, and he brought to the stage an intense, actorly focus, his elocution marvelous — "the first of the Method comics," Gerald Nachman called him in "Seriously Funny," his overview of the "rebel comedians of the 1950s and 1960s. Berman — the accidental comic, an actor first, who had worked with Mike Nichols and Elaine May at Chicago's Compass Players — was the first with a gold record for spoken word.

On "Comedian Backstage," Berman chain-smokes and frets and eats room service and barks instructions about how he should be introduced, for instance ("Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Shelley Berman," that was all he wanted). He paces and goes back downstairs, finally, to do his act, which seemed to go very well, except for this one moment when a phone rang, briefly, near the end of his show, which caused Berman to erupt: He went backstage and yelled at his road manager, he jerked the phone off the hook and paced, appearing inconsolable. Seen today, it is not so much remarkable for the behavior it exposes as the pain of the man, on naked display, a perfectly good show ruined, in his mind, by one or two seconds of ringing telephone. Wound tight the entire hour, Berman gives the special its climax — he comes undone.

Today, Berman will still emphasize an important point: He was angry because this was the second time that the phone backstage had rung during one of his shows, and this time during a long, semiautobiographical tone piece, a phone call between a Yiddish-accented father and son, the son asking for $100 toward acting school. "Sheldon, don't change your name. Goodbye, Sheldon," the father tells him finally.

But the documentary reversed the sequence, showing this second intrusion first.

His career didn't end, but he could feel a gradual exiling of him, a chilling toward his name. "A lot happened and a lot didn't happen," he said. "So that this thing that aired in 1963 would result a few years later in personal bankruptcy, would result in having people be on edge with me, wondering when I'm going to blow up. This would result in my trying to over, over-compensate by [saying] please and thank you, no matter what happened."

On the road, Berman had performance requirements; he was not the comedian who could hop up onstage, grab the mike and go. But now he found that these requests fed into his image.

"It became, very simply, that I was difficult. Very simply. Peel it all away, take off all the fat, it's that Shelley Berman, you're buying trouble. It became not merely an albatross, but an albatross that was hanging on my back, choking me."

Keeping up appearances

KNIVES are prominent in Berman's house, in display cases. There are also illustrations of knives on his living room wall. At the end of the month he and Sarah go to San Diego, to emcee a dinner at the annual Art Knife Invitational. Berman says he began collecting when he needed a bowie knife for a fishing trip in the 1950s.

"At that time in New York there was an extraordinarily wonderful sporting goods store, it was called Abercrombie & Fitch," he said. He was back in his living room the week after the fires, the house having made it through unscathed. "Lately, there is an Abercrombie & Fitch that sells contemporary grunge for kids," he went on. "It's horrible, you can't go into the store without going deaf from the music. You can't pass the store without the music reaching out and killing you. It's an alien. It's a dark black alien that's going to go out and clap both of your ears and you'll never hear again."

Berman's voice is deeper but uncannily little changed from the old records. On paper, it is easy to turn him into one of those old Jewish comics still howling over the hurts and injustices, from "Comedian Backstage" to Abercrombie & Fitch, sitting in a hillside ranch house in the San Fernando Valley. Except Berman is not just that; he's still engaged, teaching humor writing at USC, writing poetry, looking at mail on his website,

After that special, Berman kept working—theater, dinner theater, TV. His life kept happening, happy but also tragic. In 1977, his son Josh died of a brain tumor at 12 1/2 .

"We made sure that his corneas would go to the eye bank," he had said a week earlier, after elaborating on this chapter. "We had nothing else we could give. And my wife woke me one morning, and I said, 'What's up?' She says, 'He's gone.' I said, 'Well, we'd better call the eye bank.' She says, 'I did.'

"She did before she woke me. She knew, business first."

His own worst critic

THERE is something, to be sure, still raw about Berman, still restive — the man from "Comedian Backstage," unable to relax.

"Shelley beats himself up worse than anyone else could," said Robert Weide, an executive producer on "Curb" and a filmmaker who has made documentaries about Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce and the Marx Brothers. "The nature of 'Curb,' it takes us a while to find the scene," Weide said. "It's not scripted and actors are making it up, and sometimes it's magic out of the gate and sometimes it has to be honed.

"Shelley will do a take and say, 'I'm sorry, I really screwed that up.' … And very often after he's done not just a satisfactory job, but a great job. You have to remember to take a moment to reassure Shelley that he's fine."

David added the character of his father in the third season, in an episode in which Larry goes to New York to appear in a Martin Scorsese movie and returns to L.A. to discover not only that his mother has died but that there's already been a funeral. Berman then has to explain that he and Larry's mother didn't want to worry him. For the audition, "that was the scene, which is not an easy scene," David said. "I mean for him, not for me. You have to play exactly the right thing."

The tendency for actors in that situation, David said, is to try to be funny. "And when you try and be funny you sometimes lose the reality of what is going on, so the scene is no longer believable…. He didn't think about being funny at all and just played the reality of the scene."

"I go there and they hand me a piece of paper," Berman said of the audition. "I see Shecky Greene is there, and he goes in ahead of me, and Shecky Greene walks out, we're old buddies, we're from the west side of Chicago, a couple of Jew boys who made good."

On "Curb," Berman is in disguise; he wears big bifocals and mutters in a baritone. For only the second time in his professional life, he is not wearing his hairpiece.

"When the audition was over he had left the room and then I realized the toupee might be a problem," David said. "I ran outside in the hall and said, 'Are you willing to lose the piece?' He didn't even think about it. It was a very definite 'Of course.' "

From: rebarules1 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by host10/28/05 4:29 PM 
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At 79, a comeback still in progress

Shelley Berman has hit with role in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'

Thursday, October 27, 2005; Posted: 4:36 p.m. EDT (20:36 GMT)

Shelley Berman made his name as a comedian in the late '50s and early '60s.
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- In 1963, long before television became a stage for celebrities eager to expose their every flaw and foible, Shelley Berman threw a reality TV tantrum.

In an era of sanitized television, when outbursts were limited to the chorus on "Sing Along with Mitch," the comedian erupted over a stagehand's flub on a cinema verite segment of "The DuPont Show of the Week."

Today, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown and Britney Spears can gleefully explore their off-kilter home lives for eager audiences, while others of faded fame actively misbehave on "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!"

But Berman, who had already made his name in comedy clubs, on Broadway, in movies and on TV and rightfully expected more success to come his way, felt his career was stunted when the incident evolved into the unlikely stuff of Hollywood legend.

Even as the 79-year-old Berman has enjoyed a renaissance, playing Larry David's father on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and with roles in other television and film projects ("Grey's Anatomy" on November 6, "Meet the Fockers") this odd chapter remains open.

"It's great conversation. In the industry, it's great talk," said Berman, offering his take on the shelf life of what seems no more than a minor lapse and one that pales next to stories of truly egregious star misbehavior.

He asked a producer on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" if he knew about it. "Sure, we all know," he was told. Then there was the time he introduced himself to Don Imus: "Yes, I know you. You tore a phone off the wall," the radio host replied, repeating an embellished version.

It's unlikely that many viewers remember the incident, and Berman ultimately thrived despite it, in entertainment and elsewhere. At this point he casts himself as a poet rather than a performer and is a longtime writing teacher at the University of Southern California.

Berman, who won the first Grammy for a comedy record for "Inside Shelley Berman" in 1959, still can provoke rapturous praise. When he appeared last year on MSNBC's "Countdown," Keith Olbermann called him "one of the greatest humorists of the last half-century."

One day to the next

But he can't shake the misstep. Ask Berman the year he first got his name above the title for a Broadway play or when he made his first comedy album and he's vague on dates. Query him on when the "DuPont Show" documentary called "Comedian Backstage" aired and he's precise.

"March 3, 1963. On March 4, I was a goner," Berman said in his distinctive, rich-but-nasal voice.

On "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Berman (second from right) plays star Larry David's father.

He had agreed to be filmed onstage and off in an effort to distinguish himself from several other comedians who were hot or gaining popularity at that time.

Berman was among the breakthrough artists of the '50s and '60s who brought comedy out of the era of the one-liner and into more honest, reflective territory. In particular, Berman had perfected routines in which he improvised his end of imaginary phone calls.

Mort Sahl was another groundbreaker and, even though his humor focused on social and political satire, Berman was uneasy that they were being confused. Even more worrisome was the fact that Bob Newhart had gained notice with his phone routines.

"I was concerned about 'who am I?' to the audience. So when they (the filmmakers) said, 'We'll follow you,' I bit. I insisted on the right to approve the rough cut. So there I was, safe, everything fine," Berman said.

Then came a Diplomat Hotel gig in Miami. On the second night, when a backstage phone rang during his routine, Berman told his new road manager to silence all phones at show time. Two nights later a poignant father-son phone bit, a Berman favorite, was interrupted by ringing.

"I finish the routine, walk off stage and I blow my stack," he recalled. It was captured on film and, when it was included in the finished documentary, Berman was appalled: In editing, the blowup appeared as if it took place on opening night and that he was angry without reason.

'I had to try to be likable'

His managers, his wife, Sarah, and others said he was being too sensitive and that the scene painted him only as a deeply committed artist. Instead, Berman quickly realized, it had branded him a jerk.

"If I asked for a (stage) light, it was not an ask but a demand. If I demanded, I was having a fit," Berman said. Returning to Mister Kelly's, the famed Chicago nightclub where he first made his name as a comedian, staff members he considered friends were obviously wary of him.

Did it affect his comedy?

"Yes. I couldn't be right on top of where I wanted to be in my performance," he said. "I had to try to be likable. You couldn't work all the time walking on eggs."

Although myth has it that Berman dropped out of sight and out of work, his credits belie that and he dismisses that as dramatic overkill. He went on to appear on popular programs including the Dean Martin and Andy William shows and on "The Hollywood Palace" variety series.

Trained as an actor, Berman toured in plays and guest-starred in an eclectic mix of TV shows, including "Bewitched," "St. Elsewhere" and "L.A. Law." He savors the memory of working with Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson and Lee Tracy in the 1964 political film "The Best Man."

But Berman believes that the chance of a starring role in a sitcom eluded him because of that brief flash of film.

"Big things didn't really happen, the thing that would have brought great rewards of work and money. The money I sometimes needed wasn't there," he said. At one point he was forced into bankruptcy.

Berman wants to make it clear he isn't angling for pity. He knows what real tragedy is (a son died at age 12 from a brain tumor) and was able to pursue his chosen work, if under imperfect circumstances. His comedy legacy, he acknowledges, stands.

"The truth is, I was not down and out, I wasn't destroyed. I wasn't like Pete Rose, let me tell you. I was not denied the hall of fame. There are people who admire me, and I'm very proud of that."

HBO is a division of Time Warner, as is CNN.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


From: rebarules1 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by host12/7/05 11:14 AM 
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Has Larry kicked it to the 'Curb'?

*The 'Enthusiasm' star winds up Season 5, and possibly his series, with an outlandish episode.
Couched humor

By Paul Brownfield, Times Staff Writer

When Larry David came back to write the "Seinfeld" finale, he decided to leave his four characters to posterity in a jail cell — imprisoning them, finally, for being uncaring and self-involved, dangerous to the social order. This was David's closing argument, a twist that enabled the episode to act as a comment on all the celebrated, much-quoted behavior of nine seasons.

Sunday night, in what was officially the finale of the fifth season of David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" but felt, maybe, like a bigger kind of finale (the episode was called "The End"), Larry finds out he's actually the product of Gentile parents and converts from nettlesome Jew to beneficent Christian. He gives up his kidney to an ailing Richard Lewis, only to discover on the way to the operating room that the private investigator tracking down his birth parents has made an error. A near-death experience finds him on his way to the afterlife, where he's bounced back to Earth after an argument with a heavenly guide (Dustin Hoffman) over the proper system for storing DVDs.

The whole dying process is played as you might imagine Larry David playing it — the weightiest of occasions undermined by petty arguments. In heaven, Larry is berated by his mother, who is played by Bea Arthur ("Who goes around giving their kidney to people? Idiot!" she greets him), while around his deathbed his loved ones haggle over the Blue Book value of a Prius.

It was David throwing the petty fights in which his show has trafficked, the molehills made into mountains, into heightened relief. His whole conversion to the good in himself, followed by the inevitable going-down-with-the-ship of his innate personality, had that "Seinfeld" finale self-awareness to it, even if nobody was saying that this was the end of "Curb."

True, last season ended in grandiose fashion too, with David starring in a Broadway production of "The Producers," but visually and contextually this was a further reach — Larry on a horse in Arizona, Larry hurtling into the afterlife. It didn't entirely work. "Curb" has always been better going for smaller versions of comedic triumph. The show at its best can seem to be about watching David meander from deli to doctor's office to cocktail party, infecting the entire Westside of Los Angeles with his obsession and shame reflexes.

In this, "Curb" became influential, a show that not only lent a certain vogue to the idea of improvising dialogue but also tipped off other comic artists that exploring the obnoxious side of show business personality, in real-time, vérité style, was the way to go. And so you got Kirstie Alley in "Fat Actress" and Lisa Kudrow in "The Comeback," and both proved that what David did looked deceptively easy.

"Curb" has been criticized this season for having played itself out, although the show has essentially remained unchanged — David fantasizing into his id and producing moments, if not entire situations, pitched to articulate the paranoia and social phobias and comical asides that human beings don't otherwise express.

He's the outside voice where most of us would keep it inside, a fact reflected back at him by a strong ensemble cast that plays this well. Having had its debut during HBO's powerhouse Sunday night lineup, coming on after "Sex and the City," "Curb" seems more naked now as the network's fortunes on the night have changed.

Then too, the form of the series has become familiar to viewers, and the same thing that happened to George on the later seasons of "Seinfeld" has happened to David on "Curb Your Enthusiasm": The comedy of him comes across as louder and more obvious.

And yet, it can be hard to determine whether "Curb" has changed or the audience has changed around it. In Season 5, as in Season 1, the smaller predicament builds to the bigger one — like the "Curb" of a few weeks ago, in which Larry tries to curry favor with the head of a kidney transplant consortium and ends up stranded at episode's end on a ski lift with the guy's Orthodox Jewish daughter, who panics that she can't be with a man at sundown.

We know the show's biorhythms by now, so an episode like "The Ski Lift" doesn't play as memorably as, say, "The Doll" from Season 2, in which Larry cuts off the hair of a little girl's doll, causing unimagined repercussions. That life should be good but is fraught with tumult at every turn is the place from which each "Curb" starts.

David took this to a more symbolic place Sunday night; even when we're dying, the other kind of tsimmes doesn't abate. "Curb" was kind of an accident to begin with — an HBO special David did about returning to stand-up comedy post-"Seinfeld" that blossomed into a series — so it would not be out of context for the show to depart on parallel terms.

However far it has fallen off the cultural radar, there's still some kind of touchstone in its complaints.

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David, 'Curb' making room for Fox

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Vivica A. Fox has joined the cast of Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" for the HBO comedy's upcoming sixth season.

She will be a member of a black family that moves into the Davids' house following a major natural disaster.

The story line, seemingly a take on the events following Hurricane Katrina, is sure to explore interracial relations, something "Curb" has done brilliantly with such classic episodes as "Krazee-Eyez Killa" and "The Carpool Lane."

The topic is in Hollywood's spotlight these days, following the racial outburst of Michael Richards, co-star of the hit comedy "Seinfeld," which David created with Jerry Seinfeld.

Fox recently starred in the Lifetime drama series "1-800-Missing" and did a multi-episode arc on the UPN comedy "All of Us," which has since migrated to the CW.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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Curb Your Enthusiasm's Cheryl Hines Goes Back to School

by Anthony Layser
Cheryl Hines and Her Campus Ladies
The improv comedy series Campus Ladies is kicking off its sophomore year tonight on the Oxygen network (11pm/EST). Following a widow (Carrie Aizley) and a divorcée (Christen Sussin) as they return to college while in their forties, the show is enrolling some big-name guest stars this semester, including Jason Alexander, Jeff Garlin and Penny Marshall. Executive producer Cheryl Hines, best known for her role as Cheryl David on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, has been a big part of attracting that talent. Recently, had a little chat with her about the Ladies and Larry. I'm a 27-year-old, heterosexual male, and I thought the first couple of episodes of the new season were pretty funny. Is it OK for me to enjoy a show on the Oxygen network?
Cheryl Hines:
It is. You know, it's funny — when the show first came out, I was being interviewed by someone from The Today Show, and he said, "How does it feel that reviewers are saying this is guy humor?" I was like, "I don't really know what you mean. It's written by all women." Funny is funny.
Right, funny is funny. We all came from the Groundlings Theater, and they didn't have a guys' section and a girls' section. There are a lot of guys who are closet watchers, though, so you don't have to worry about growing breasts or anything like that. What a relief. The title characters, Joan and Barri, are really out of place on a college campus. Was the original idea to put middle-aged women in a situation where they don't quite belong?
Well, Christen and Carrie had these characters, and my husband, Paul Young, who's one of the executive producers, worked with them to figure out where to put these women. They decided that putting them on a college campus would be the funniest possible situation. But we were friends with them from the Groundlings, so we knew they'd be really funny anywhere. Last season, you directed the episode "No Means No." What was the toughest thing about directing?
Probably keeping everything moving along, because the show is improvised. People say the funniest things when we're shooting, and your instinct is to sit and laugh for 10 minutes until we all pull it together. But as a director, you don't have that luxury, or you're not going to stay on schedule. I had to be the disciplinarian with two of my best friends, but I loved it. Did you direct any episodes this season?
I did. I directed "Psych 101." Jane Lynch (Best in Show) is in it. How'd you bring so many big guest stars, like Jane Lynch, on board?
Well, for our first season, it meant asking people for favors, because they'd never seen the show. But after we aired, we got this cult following in Hollywood. I'd run into people, and they would say, "Oh, my god, I love Campus Ladies." I would say, "Great. How would you like to be on it?" That's how we got Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes and people like that. Is the improv approach on Campus Ladies similar to what you do on Curb Your Enthusiasm?
: It's very similar. We "borrowed it," shall we say. With my experience and Carrie and Christen's improv background, we just felt like it was a great way to get the funniest stuff we could get. On Curb, I had been part of the process from the very beginning, so that was very helpful in molding Campus Ladies. What's the status for the new season of Curb?
We're shooting right now. We're about halfway through the 10 episodes. At the end of every season you hear rumors that [Curb creator] Larry [David] doesn't want to do another one. What do you think keeps bringing him back?
Me. [Laughs] At the end of every season, he always feels like he's put his heart and soul into that season and doesn't feel like he's got anything left to give. So it takes him a while to recharge and start coming up with ideas again. Early on, did you think Curb Your Enthusiasm had the ability to attract such a big following?
I had no idea. When I was cast, it was just a one-hour special on HBO. I had no expectations and was just hoping I'd get more auditions because of it. When Larry told me it was going to be a series, I really didn't know if people would embrace it or not. It was such a different way of shooting, and it had a different look and feel to it. I didn't know if people would get it. There's also the issue with Larry not being all that likable.
Yeah. There are always people coming up to me saying, "I can't stand Larry David, but I love the show." I have a secret feeling [that] they do like Larry but don't know it. At the end of the day, what's better — producing your own show on Oxygen, or being one of the stars of a hit HBO series?
It's apples and oranges, my friend. I'm having the time of my life on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and I'll always treasure having the chance to work with Larry. On the flip side, I'm working with two of my best friends and my husband on Campus Ladies. I'm learning as I get older the importance of picking and choosing who you work with. Life is short. If you're having a good time with the people you work with, it makes all the difference.


From: rebarules1 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by host9/7/07 12:37 PM 
To: All  (8 of 33) 
 5869.8 in reply to 5869.7 


Curbed 'Enthusiasm'

In Season 6, Larry David is trying too hard to be the curmudgeon everyone loves or hates.

By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" is back Sunday on HBO, and it's hard to know how to feel about this. Forget red and blue, America is divided into Larry David worshipers and those who just don't get it. Certainly no one pokes fun at the idle, self-absorbed rich like David, and as our economic gap widens in anticipation of la deluge, that is a much-needed national service. (If, of course, you can overlook the fact that he himself is getting richer by the minute doing it.)

And when he's using his thinly veiled alter ego to rant on life's little irritations, there's no one to beat him. Early episodes this season have David going off on people who sample too many items (ice cream, perfume) before making a purchase, the holier-than-thou attitude of philanthropists who remain anonymous, even the mysterious rules of the dry cleaners -- and it's all gold, Jerry, gold. His eyes get buggy, his voice gets raspy and we're all happy to hear him kvetch about things that drive us crazy too.

But David has never been satisfied with the little things. This isn't "Seinfeld," this isn't a show about nothing, it's a show about everything. Or rather everything in the rarefied world of extremely successful television show creators. Since its inception seven years ago, "Curb" has taken careful aim at the rich, particularly the entertainment rich, and David is more than happy to shoot himself in the eye along with all of his friends. "I just can't stop thinking about the people in that hurricane," wife Cheryl says in the first episode as they drive to a party. "My nose really itches," Larry replies. "And you just can't scratch it."

Cheryl wants to bring a homeless family to live with them; Larry, of course, doesn't. And just as you know that Lucy will never get to headline at Ricky's club, you know that Larry will wind up capitulating. It's only a question of how ridiculous his behavior will be to get him from point A to point B.

Pretty ridiculous, as it turns out. For all its postmodern deconstruction of the mundane -- "It's an unwritten rule," Larry says of not asking for more than one, two at the most, samples of ice cream, "like tiptoeing. You tiptoe at night so you don't wake anyone up" -- "Curb" owes most of its humor to the hare-brained, wacky schemes of "I Love Lucy" or even "The Flintstones." Larry attempts to get out of going to a party by pretending he has the wrong night, Larry steals flowers from a roadside memorial and then has to steal them back. Meanwhile, a coterie of friends -- Jeff Greene (Jeff Garlin), Ted Danson, Richard Lewis, etc. -- either aid, thwart or condemn him.

May I just take a moment here to pay homage to Susie Essman? As Susie Greene, she is perhaps the most lyrical purveyor of profanity on television. She makes the entire cast of the "The Sopranos" look like rank amateurs. "Get your . . . hands off me," she says in response to Larry's attempt to pat her. "What are you, in fourth grade?" A streetwise haiku. It really is a gift.

Still, after seven years, even David is having to reach a bit. Larry is getting a little ridiculous (see the whole masturbation subplot of the second episode) and a little too mean even for Larry -- no one steals three bouquets from a roadside shrine to a friend's dead mother. Seriously.

David may have invented wince TV, those moments that ring so uncomfortably true the viewer has to look away, but too many of these and you have an audience looking at the floor for 30 minutes. Which is not so good.

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From: rebarules1 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by host9/15/07 12:49 PM 
To: All  (9 of 33) 
 5869.9 in reply to 5869.8 

Garlin's Enthused About Curb — and the Cubs

by Anthony Layser
Jeff Garlin, Curb Your Enthusiasm
HBO's hit comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm returned for its sixth-season premiere last Sunday, and if you had to name one person other than Larry David who's been responsible for the show's success, it would have to be Jeff Garlin. The big-bodied Chicago native has handled executive-producing duties while playing Jeff Greene, Larry's manager and mischievous confidant. In this week's episode, "The Anonymous Donor," Jeff once again proves that Larry is not the only one whose enthusiasms can get him into trouble. spoke with Garlin about the new season — and what it's like to serenade a packed house at Wrigley Field. Jeff seems to behave just as badly as Larry, but for some reason it's more acceptable coming from Jeff. Why is that?
Jeff Garlin: I guess it's just his personality, which is close to my own personality. The character is totally lacking in morals and integrity — I hope that's different from me — but it's an honor to be able to play such a fun character. What makes Larry and Jeff such good friends?
Garlin: I don't know... because it says so in the script. That sounds like a bit of a cop-out.
Garlin: Why is that a cop-out? I'm very pragmatic about the way I approach acting. I know what I have to do. Show me where to stand; show me what I'm saying and I'll do it. If you want me to make adjustments, we'll make adjustments. I don't overthink it. The cast of Curb seems like a pretty tight-knit group. Do you guys have as good a time working together as it looks?
Garlin: We have a lot of fun and we are actually very close friends. It's a pretty great relationship that we all have. Not once has there ever been a tense word on set between any of the cast members. Not once. It helps that Susie [Essman] and Larry and I knew each other before we did the show, but I only met Cheryl when she auditioned. A lot of people may not realize that you've been part of the show's development since Day 1.
Garlin: Yeah, I approached Larry with the original idea for the HBO special, and he made it brilliant. Are you guys at all surprised that the onetime special has grown into this long-running hit series?
Garlin: Of course! We are shocked. I'm surprised that I'm even talking to you about it right now. We never expected it to be a hit. Who the hell knows what makes something commercial? We just thought it was funny. So what's the biggest difference now from when you started out six seasons ago?
Garlin: The style of the show is a little denser now. It was a lot lighter and documentary-style when we first started. Now the stories are denser and plot-driven, and a lot more things need to be cut. On a completely unrelated topic, you're a Chicago native and a diehard Bears fan. How do you feel about their chances this season?
Garlin: I feel like they've got a great shot. If Rex Grossman plays well, they've got an excellent shot. That's a big what-if. How about the Cubs' playoff chances?
Garlin: I'm nervous. I've caught more than a few games this season, and things have been up and down. Actually, three or four times this season, I sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch. Now that would make me nervous.
Garlin: Nothing makes me nervous usually. I just did Letterman, though, and that made me nervous. He's one of my heroes, so I was just really aware of the circumstances. For the most part, though, I'm pretty relaxed with show-business stuff. Yeah, but that's just talking in front of a studio audience. Singing in front of a stadium full of Cubs fans is slightly different.
Garlin: It's just "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." It's not like I'm singing an opera. True, but you're also trying to fill the shoes of Harry Caray.
Garlin: No one can fill the shoes of Harry Caray. I just look at it as making a Cubs game that much more fun.

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From: rebarules1 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by host10/23/07 8:35 PM 
To: All  (10 of 33) 
 5869.10 in reply to 5869.9 


'Curb Your Enthusiasm' hits really close to home

NEW YORK (AP) -- In the exaggerated mirror to Larry David's life that is "Curb Your Enthusiasm," even the comedian's own divorce is fodder for comedy.


Larry David has worked his real-life marital troubles into "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Sunday night's episode of the HBO show was a classic case of art imitating life with the announcement by David's fictional spouse, played by Cheryl Hines, that she was leaving. It was just in June that David and his real-life wife, Laurie David, separated after 14 years of marriage.

The real-life divorce was filed by Laurie David, citing "irreconcilable differences." Their spokesman has called the split "very amicable." On "Curb," the breakup was set off when Cheryl called hysterically from a potentially crashing airplane. Larry told her to "call back in 10 minutes" because he was having their Tivo fixed by a cable guy.

Safe but still rattled, Cheryl returned to declare: "I'm leaving, Larry. I can't do this anymore."

"People ask me all the time, 'How do you stay with him?' " she explained. "I always tell them, 'There's another side to Larry that you don't see.' And then I just realized today, there's no other side."

Larry argued to no avail that the phone reception was bad and, besides, he was able to save her Tivoed shows like "Top Chef" and "Project Runway." The rest of the episode finds the couple's friends (some of whom are the REAL couple's friends), choosing sides between either Larry or Cheryl.

David has always pursued a realistic brand of comedy that pulls directly from life. He and Jerry Seinfeld created the NBC classic "Seinfeld" one night at a New York grocery, where they decided that their casual banter should be the show -- famously referred to as "a show about nothing."

Even that moment was eventually portrayed on "Seinfeld" when Jerry and George (the character based on David, played by Jason Alexander) decide to create a sitcom for NBC.

The origins of "Curb" were similar. While preparing for a comedy special on HBO, David's friend and comedian Jeff Garlin suggested that David have the entire process filmed.

A loosely scripted, naturalistic approach is now the "Curb" signature. Though his character bears his name and much of his life, David has always said it's an exaggeration -- who he might be if he had no manners or restraint.

Whether David's divorce would be reflected on "Curb" had been a matter of speculation. In an interview with The Associated Press in early September (after the season wrapped but before it hit the air), David played cagy when asked if his marital woes would seep into the show.

"Can't fire Cheryl," he replied.

Asked if perhaps the fictional couple might feel increased discord, if not collapse, David said: "There's something there, obviously. I wouldn't shy away from dealing with it, if I do another year."

Now David's divorce has made its presence felt, and the following episodes will help determine whether his on-screen marriage still has any chance. A spokesman for HBO said the split would indeed constitute a full arc.

Both Larry and Laurie David, in real life, declined to comment. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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