By: Frazier Moore
NEW YORK (AP) – You know you want it.
You may never have said it out loud, that you wanted a ‘Seinfeld’ reunion. Why would you, cool ‘Seinfeld’ fan that you are? You know TV reunions are lame. You also know the ‘Seinfeld’ gang is way too cool to stoop to doing one.
But now Larry David has reunited his four ‘Seinfeld’ stars for a sassy story line on his current series, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ He has recaptured the twisted genius of the old show and reignited it, fresh and funny and safely removed from any danger of lameness.
The made-for-TV version of himself that he portrays on his HBO comedy (a caviling provocateur named Larry David who formerly produced a show called ‘Seinfeld’) sets the plan in motion for a ‘Seinfeld’ reunion on Sunday’s episode of ‘Curb’ (airing at 9 p.m. EDT).
But not before resisting.
“You know those reunion shows, they’re so lame,” TV-Larry scoffs when the idea is first bought to him.
Then, befitting TV-Larry, when he eventually consents, it’s not for any logical good reason.
His ulterior motive: to win back his estranged wife, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines). He means to cast her, a would-be actress, as the ex-wife of George Costanza (the character who, played by Jason Alexander, always served as David’s ‘Seinfeld’ doppelganger).
Granted, Pirandello would be easier to sort out than this double-helix of parody and truth. Doesn’t matter. What matters is, this particular ‘Curb’ – the third episode in its triumphant seventh season – is a compact masterpiece. It finesses a hilarious clash between David and the ‘Seinfeld’ foursome (Alexander, Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and, of course, Jerry Seinfeld), reconvened 11 years after the ‘Seinfeld’ finale with hilarious, organic aplomb.
“Why isn’t it lame?” says TV-Jerry when TV-Larry coaxes him to say yes.
“Because we’ll do it in a way that won’t be lame,” vows TV-Larry, flush with his covert Cheryl-targeted agenda.
And he does! They do! They mount a real reunion within a mock reunion. They wangle a way to have it both ways, for themselves and for the audience. How cool is that!
Larry and Company would never have done it under any other terms.
“Honestly, and I know I can speak for Jerry, too, I can tell you that neither of us ever gave a moment’s thought to doing it for real,” says David.
And in contrast to the overeager, unctuous NBC executive who proposes the idea on ‘Curb,’ David says that, in real life, NBC has never made an overture for a reunion in all these years.
Fine, but what if Larry had picked up the phone and volunteered? Wouldn’t those NBC execs be doing back flips (or something even more unseemly)?
“Yes,” says David with a sly smile. “Yes, I think they would have. I think it would have been an unpleasant sight to witness. Or even hear. I don’t know what would have been worse — to see it or hear it.” Suffice it to say, he spared himself and NBC from finding out.
But in the meantime, he thought of the idea to bring back the four ‘Seinfeld’ stars within the context of a ‘Curb’ story line. Then the plot line of his winning Cheryl back presented itself. Here was a potent synthesis.
In person, David is the 62-year-old spitting image of TV-Larry, from his tennis shoes and lanky, loose-limbed frame to his irredeemably bald head. This only certifies the confusion intertwining fiction with reality.
Life certainly imitated art once real-life Larry recognized he had to persuade the four ‘Seinfeld’ alums to come aboard before he could begin a “Curb” script where TV-Larry tries to persuade their TV counterparts to come aboard.
“I had to make four separate calls to ask them if they would do the show, ’cause I couldn’t do it if any one of them refused.”
On Sunday’s episode, TV-David is seen starting with TV-Jerry, then hitting up TV-Jason, TV-Julia and then TV-Michael.
What order did he follow in real life?
David flashes an oh-no-you-don’t smile and answers, “Let’s just say I contacted Jerry first.”
After Sunday, Seinfeld will appear in four more of the remaining seven episodes, while Louis-Dreyfus will be in three, and Alexander and Richards in two. The season climaxes with the “Seinfeld” reunion show, which, of course, unfolds “within a ‘Curb’ story,” David adds pointedly. “I must emphasis that.”
Though David hastens to remind you that, while the dialogue on each ‘Curb’ episode is improvised, the story structure is tightly plotted out.
“The writing is the hard part. But the shooting is a lot of fun,” he says, adding, “People would not want to see other people having this much fun. They would be angry. I would be angry if I saw it: ‘Stop it, Larry!'”
And it was never more fun than when the four ‘Seinfeld’ alums actually gathered on the show’s original sound stage for a scene (airing on a future ‘Curb’ episode) where they did a table read for the mock-‘Seinfeld’ show.
“They were all together reading from a ‘Seinfeld’ script, and the scene’s being filmed, and while that’s going on, I’ve got other things to do.” And it’s all part of his ‘Curb’ show.
David smiles with what, for anyone else, might signal satisfaction. “It’s quite a hybrid.”
It’s a hybrid you never knew you wanted, but will love.
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