10 Things You Didn't Know About... Curb Your Enthusiasm
After a hiatus of a little more than six years, Larry David's much-loved comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm returned for a ninth season last year and arrived in stores this week. A tenth season has already been commissioned by HBO and looks likely to arrive in 2019, or even later this year if we're lucky, but in the meantime we thought we'd celebrate Larry's return by digging up some of the lesser-known facts about the show...
The show was originally intended to be an actual documentary
The original concept for the pilot was a documentary about Larry David's decision to return to stand-up comedy after years working as a screenwriter for TV shows such as Seinfeld. The idea was to intersperse the footage of his various stand-up sets with scenes from his real life, but David thought it would be funnier if the “real life” segments were fictional and exaggerated. From there, the show evolved into a cinéma vérité style 'mockumentary', and the rest is history.
When the pilot first aired, it was a little too believable for some
As anyone familiar with the show will know, Larry David stars as an exaggerated version of himself, but while most of the other recurring characters are fictional, they do use the same first names as the actors portraying them. This caused some confusion for the friends and family of Cheryl Hines, who play's Larry's wife in the series. Robert B. Weide, who directed the pilot episode, explained that Cheryl “had friends in Florida who saw the show and were upset to find out that Cheryl had married a big TV producer and they were never invited to the wedding.”
It's a problem that affects the show's other characters too
JB Smoove, who plays Leon, is one of the few actors whose on-screen name differs from his real one, nit that it matters to fans, who he says still call him Leon all the time. But spare a thought for Susie Essman, who plays Larry's foul-mouthed friend Susie Greene and, as a result, is constantly approached by fans asking to be verbally abused. Speaking on a panel at The Paley Centre, she explained: “My life has become extremely bizarre that people just come up to [me] wherever I am, begging me to tell them to go f**k themselves. It’s like, I’m buying produce, I’m shaking a melon. ‘Call me a fat f**k.’ I’m not always in the mood.”
Cheryl Hines' family provided the inspiration for one of the show's most famous scenes
The episode 'Mary, Joseph and Larry' contains a much-loved scene in which Larry upsets Cheryl's parents when he accidentally eats the baby jesus from a gingerbread nativity scene at their house, mistaking it for a monkey. Hines told TV Guide in 2002: “I was home in Florida, my family had made a manger scene out of cookies and everyone was walking around saying, ‘Don't eat baby Jesus.’ And I immediately called Larry and said, ‘If you were at my house right now, you would eat baby Jesus and my family would go crazy.’”
Larry David never writes any dialogue for the show...
Curb Your Enthusiasm often takes longer to shoot that most TV series, typically requiring numerous takes for each scene and an unusually large amount of editing. That's because Larry David never writes an actual script, only an outline for each episode. Those outlines are usually very detailed, stretching to seven or eight pages per episode, but they only cover the synopsis and outcomes of each scene. Almost all of the actual dialogue is improvised, and after several takes the show's editing team cut together the funniest parts of each.
...but Curb Your Enthusiasm has still won an award from the Writers' Guild of America
Despite the lack of an actual script, the show has been nominated no fewer than six times, winning once in 2006.
One episode helped save a man who was wrongfully arrested for murder
Back in 2003, a 24-year old Los Angeles resident named Juan Catalan was arrested and charged with the murder of 16-year old Martha Puebla. Catalan was jailed for sixth months awaiting trial, potentially facing a death sentence, but always maintained his innocence and insisted that he had been at Dodger Stadium watching a baseball game that night with his daughter. However, despite his lawyers combing through the footage from the game's broadcast and hours of CCTV footage, they were unable to identify their client anywhere in the 56,000-strong crowd.
But then he got lucky; as it turned out, a scene from an episode of the show's sixth season, 'The Car Pool Lane', was being filmed at the stadium that same night and although Catalan did not appear in the episode itself, his lawyers were given permission to spool through the crew's raw footage and were able to find a clear shot of Catalan in the crowd, where he said he had been all along, eating a hot dog next to his daughter. When Larry David was told that his show had effectively saved an innocent man from death row, he said: "I tell people that I've now done one decent thing in my life, albeit inadvertently."
The producers had to find a new location after the first season
Eagle-eyed fans for the show may have noticed that Larry and Cheryl's house looked different in the second season than it did in the first. That's because the first season had been filmed in an empty house, but in the weeks following the show's broadcast the property was sold and a family moved in, forcing the show's producers to find a new house to film in.
The theme song was originally written for an Italian movie named La Bellissima Estate
The show's iconic theme tune was written by an Italian composer named Luciano Michelini, who had originally created the piece as part of his soundtrack for a 1974 Italian film La Bellissima Estate, although Larry David has never seen the film. Four years prior to the show's pilot episode, David spotted the music being used on a commercial for a local bank and the tune stuck with him. When the show was commissioned, he instructed one of the show's editors to track down the licence holder.
One of the episodes in the new season, set in Los Angeles, features footage filmed in Cardiff
Curb Your Enthusiasm returned to TV screens after a long hiatus in 2017 and a scene in one of the new episodes came as a surprise to some Welsh viewers. After shooting a scene in an LA furniture shop with Larry David and Bryan Cranston, the crew needed an external shot of the street before moving on quickly, but their trucks were preventing the crew from getting a decent shot and so the show's editors turned to stock footage. After trying out shots of streets from LA, London and Edinburgh, they eventually settled on some footage filmed on a sunny day outside Cardiff's shopping centre The Hayes, which was apparently considered to look more like Los Angeles than the footage from Los Angeles itself.
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