Larry David would like you to know that there is very little difference between “TV Larry” and “real Larry.”
“TV Larry is about a quarter of an inch away from Real Larry,” the creator and star of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” told reporters Wednesday at the Television Critics Association press tour. “Real Larry plays golf, so TV Larry plays golf.”
TV Larry and Real Larry both get into their fair share of rude spots, but neither version of Larry, David said, really compares to Donald Trump. “I don’t consider myself to be a prick!” he said.
Addressing the long-awaited return of the Emmy-winning comedy, which has been off the air for several years, led to one of the liveliest panels of the day – and not just because David and co-star Jeff Garlin never hesitated to mock questions they found wanting. (“I braved traffic to get here! And you’re bringing up the ‘Seinfeld’ finale? Shame on you!” David at one point told a critic)
In between the jabs, though, David and executive producer Jeff Schaffer did reveal some tidbits about the show’s creation and what viewers might expect from Season 9.
Schaffer described the show’s writing process from season to season as one driven by David: Each season ends with David declaring that he’s done with the show. Then, David will call Schaffer to tell him that “we’re not doing another season, but if we did, I do have one idea.”
“It’s a lot of talking about the terrible things that have happened to [David] over the past few years and putting them in the show,” Schaffer said. Eventually, after they’ve written about six or seven scripts, Schaffer suggests that they tell HBO that they’re interested in making a new season.
Earlier in the day, HBO had revealed a number of guest stars to anticipate in Season 9, and David made sure to mention that Richard Lewis, Bob Einstein, Ted Danson and Cheryl Hines will also be returning. (Fun fact: It looks like a bearded Bryan Cranston will play TV Larry’s therapist.)
Schaffer also revealed that they wrote several scripts dependent on them getting certain guest stars — without checking first to see if those guest stars would be available. Fortunately, they were able to get everyone they wanted.
And writing without a safety net appears to be a pattern for the team. When David originally wrote the “Producers” storyline for the fourth season, he didn’t ask Mel Brooks for permission first. “If he’d said no, it would have been ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ or something,” he said.
The previous season of “Curb” aired in 2011, which has meant an extended break for the series, and David admitted that his first day back on set, he had trouble during the first take. “I thought I’d lost it,” he said.
But his co-stars didn’t seem to have too many problems — Garlin said he took a lot of naps to prepare for the show’s return. Meanwhile, J.B. Smoove said the return went smoothly for him: “One take and it was back to the game. It’s like T-ball. [David] sets you up so well.”
Two unexpected family connections emerged in the panel — at one point, a critic mentioned that in the upcoming PBS series “Finding Your Roots,” David learned that he and Senator Bernie Sanders, who David played several times on “Saturday Night Live” during the election season, are related. (The “Roots” episode isn’t out yet, but the critic had watched a screener.)
“I was very happy about that — I had thought there must have been some connection,” David said.
In addition, during an extended trailer screened for critics (which provoked a great deal of laughter), there was a tease of TV Larry appearing on “Judge Judy” as a plaintiff — David explained that the reason for using “Judge Judy” is that Judith Sheindlin is part of his ex-wife’s family, so he already knew her.
Plot-wise, the producers didn’t share much more about the return of the show, beyond Schaffer’s promise that viewers will find out very quickly what TV Larry has been up to over the past few years.
Real Larry, in the meantime, has recently turned 70, which, in a quintessentially Larry David moment, he described as “a very unpleasant experience.”
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” Season 9 premieres Sunday, October 1 at 10 p.m. on HBO.