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John Eby: Curb your Seinfeld

Published 9:45pm Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don’t let the headline fool you.
This column is mostly about NBC’s “Seinfeld” carrying on disguised as “Curb Your Enthusiasm” through master of the domain of no hugging or growth Larry David, inspiration for the character George Costanza.
I’ve been watching David since his Jewfro and Michael Richards (Cosmo Kramer) appeared on “Fridays,” a sketch comedy show created to compete with “Saturday Night Live,” but I knew little about him until he appeared on Rolling Stone’s Aug. 4 cover being licked by a puppy. Festivus comes early this year!
Good timing, because I finally got to see the 2009 “Curb Your Enthusiasm” seventh season arc meant to satisfy fans’ craving a reunion after 11 years.
It started Oct. 4, 2009, and spanned five of the season’s 10 episodes, with the quartet appearing all together in only three once they gathered that March 2 to start shooting.
“Curb” producers resurrected Jerry’s apartment and Monk’s coffee shop sets from a warehouse.
Jerry got a new fridge because the old one was missing, as was Jerry’s apartment door, which Seinfeld took as a souvenir.
And what Julia Louis-Dreyfus called the “anti-reunion reunion” did, in the way that the only acceptable Beatles souffle reheat would have been if they’d just turned up on SNL when Lorne Michaels offered them chump change.
It was satisfying to have a virtual tour of the Stage 19 set on the CBS Radford lot and to see the Costanza karma at work, coupling with Elisabeth Shue and making a fortune with the iToilet, only to lose it to Bernie Madoff and end up living with Jerry.
Since “Seinfeld,” the greatest show of all time, the Beatles of sitcoms, can still be seen every night, you forget how long ago 1998 was until you see the other Fab Four bantering about the minutiae of BlackBerry texting.
Much ado about nothing. They even make light of the finale (jailed for not helping a mugging victim) falling flat. David’s only regret, he told Entertainment Weekly, “I would have them be more cowardly than cavalier.”
I especially enjoy the scene near the end where Larry, 64, thinks that besides writing the show, he can play his alter ego, George, to win Cheryl back.
“This is iconic television here. (We’re icons). No con (to Larry). There’s no John, Paul, George and Larry. It’s not what they (the audience) want,” says one co-creator to the other.
“Curb” is already HBO’s longest-running show, heavily improvised and beget another personal favorite, “Parks and Recreation.”
The Brooklyn native who lives by a golf course in Pacific Palisades writes eight-page outlines that set up ad-libbed dialogue, which he likens to “putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle.”
He was married for 14 years to environmental activist Laurie David. They split in 2007. Who knew he has two teenage daughters? “I’m not a very good” father, he said. “I think I’m probably too easy. I can be talked into anything … I’ll cave.”
“He’s so much better as an ex-husband,” Laurie said. “The show Larry is much more aggressive. The real Larry is very gentle and very sweet and doesn’t like to offend people.”
“The character really is me,” says David, who departed “Seinfeld” after seven of its nine seasons, “but I couldn’t possibly behave like that. He’s how I want to be — my version of Superman.”
His father worked in the garment industry, his mom worked for the city. He remembers their household as “raucous,” with relatives living nearby. He was a good basketball player. He studied history at the University of Maryland. He harbors “total contempt for garnish,” like when he orders grilled salmon in a restaurant.
Besides stand-up comedy, David also sold bras, drove cabs, wrote for SNL for a single season and made a film, “Sour Grapes.”
Three former “Seinfeld” writers, David Mandel, Alec Berg and Jeff Schaffer, followed David to “Curb.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Other George news: Harrison, who died 10 years ago, will finally get his due in a Martin Scorsese documentary, “Living in a Material World,” debuting on HBO in October. Widow Olivia compiled a lavish companion  book of rare photos and diary passages.
Scorsese interviews Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, George Martin, Tom Petty and Eric Clapton, who watched Harrison create “Here Comes the Sun.”
Harrison has a vast personal archive of everything from Beatles vacation footage to his first sitar lesson with Ravi Shankar.
The film also encompasses the Traveling Wilburys, the 1999 home invasion and his interest in auto racing.
Stone Lake and the quake: I know about four people in Maryland. Two are in Berrien County staying on Lake Michigan. Ted Gogol — we had a story in Monday’s paper about the Ohio couple getting engaged at his lake property in Cassopolis — felt Tuesday’s earthquake “big time.”
“My job is on the seventh floor of a nine-story building,” he sent in an e-mail. “It swayed, the floor shook. I was convinced the building was going to collapse the way the floors and windows were moving. Everyone in our building raced down the stairwell. I had visions of the twin towers pancaking. All the other buildings within sight emptied out. Very unusual experience, and so fortunate no injuries. Only minor damage.”
Obit: Grass Roots lead singer and Cass County Fair alumnus Rob Grill died July 11 in Tavares, Fla., after complications from a June head injury. He was 67.
Irony of the week: My wife and I finished our lunch at China Garden with fortune cookies. There had just been a report on the news projecting when China will surpass the United States in manufacturing might. So guess where our fortune cookies were made? New York.
Anniversary: Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and Lollapalooza (in Chicago’s Grant Park), 20.
Alice Cooper, finally enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, reunites with producer Bob Ezrin for a sequel to 1975′s “Welcome to My Nightmare,” “Welcome 2 My Nightmare,” out Sept. 13. Wonder who it references instead of star dancer Donny Osmond and the Department of Youth now that School’s Out forever.

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