9:38am PT by Jackie Strause
'Curb Your Enthusiasm': Longtime EP David Mandel Shares Everything He Knows (So Far) About Season 9
Larry David delighted fans on Tuesday with his announcement that Curb Your Enthusiasm will be returning for a ninth season.
Since the show went off the air five years ago, HBO and its executives have received no shortage of questions about whether or not the star would make a return, continually toeing the line and putting the ball in David's court. Though the official announcement was thin on details, David, who has been keeping busy between his Broadway show Fish in the Dark and numerous Saturday Night Live appearances, did explain his decision (in a very Larry David way): “In the immortal words of Julius Caesar, ‘I left, I did nothing, I returned.’”
David Mandel, who served as an executive producer on Curb and who has kept in touch with David since the show wrapped, told The Hollywood Reporter he had been keeping his fingers crossed for a return for years. Now, one day after the news, the Curb alum, who is currently the showrunner of HBO's Veep, talks to THR about what it means and what's next.
And it won't just be Mandel returning. He says between himself, Jeff Schaffer (The League) and Alec Berg (Silicon Valley, Barry), who all wrote, executive produced and took turns directing Curb during its run from 2000 to 2011, "at least one of us will be able to be there full time and the other two of us are hoping to help in any way we can."
Mandel also talked to THR about why David was always destined to come back, the other logistical issues still ahead and why everyone can expect "a whole new Larry" this time around.
How are you reacting to the news?
I’m thrilled that he decided to do it. Take out any of my involvement, I’m thrilled as a fan that there’s going to be more Curb Your Enthusiasm. We’ll get to see at least one new episode — he’s going to make somewhere between one and 10 episodes, so I’m really excited about that.
Did you get the call from HBO or Larry?
I talked to Larry. I talked to him and to Jeff Schaffer and also with Alec Berg, the three of us who have worked on it with Larry.
So Larry gathered the troops.
He reached out, as they say. He reached out.
But you have Veep, and Alec is an executive producer on Silicon Valley —
Alec’s on Silicon Valley and the Bill Hader show, Barry. I have my hands full with Veep and luckily with Jeff, The League ended in the fall. So I think at least one of us will be able to be there full time and the other two of us are hoping to help in any way we can. The good thing is, Larry moves sort of slowly and methodically; it’s not like they’re going to shoot next week. So I’m sort of sitting here saying, “If everything can work itself out, then maybe there’s some way I can finish my schedule on Veep and then be around, maybe in my editing period, to hopefully help out.” So that’s my hope. When the three of us were there, we wrote the show with him, we exec-produced the show with him and the three of us took turns directing along with a bunch of other people. I think it’ll be a version of that, sort of, with Jeff and Larry and they’ll figure it out.
Is Larry looking at other showrunners or waiting to see what you guys will be able to do?
I have no idea — and you know, it’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, we don’t use a lot of words like "showrunners." That’s a show that sort of existed before showrunner became such a term that we all like to throw around. (Laughs.) It’s Larry’s show and we kind of help where we can. I know Jeff’s going in already and I’m going to try to pop by when I can here and there. The nice thing about Veep and Curb is that there’s not a lot of idea crossover. There are shows I could be doing where, if I had an idea, I’d want it for my show. But the good news is: My Veep ideas don’t work for Larry and my Larry ideas don’t work for Veep. So that’s a good thing. It’s less of a conflict of interest.
Did Larry just go in to HBO and say, “I’m ready,” and they said, “Great! We’ve been waiting for you to say that”?
I don’t know if he ever actually goes in to HBO … but yes, I do believe they’ve been hoping and waiting — I believe he could have said anything and they would have said, "Yes, great." If I may tell you, I’m shocked he released a formal, actual statement. It’s like a new Larry. In the past, we’ve worked like a year on it before anyone ever knew or suspected. It was less of when there was a question of Curb, but he’d work on it for a while before he’d let anybody know he was close to anything. This is a whole new Larry. This is a very open and media-friendly Larry David.
What do you attribute this to — Saturday Night Live and being Bernie Sanders so frequently?
Do you think all of his recent TV appearances pushed him back into it?
What’s interesting is, the more stuff he does, the fact that he’d been doing all the SNL and doing the Broadway show [Fish in the Dark], it creates new situations where he gets ideas. So my guess is, I’m sure he just kept filling that notebook, which is a good thing for everybody.
Did he talk at all about what made him finally say yes?
I visited him in New York when he was doing his show last year. It’s like a joke but, he’s always carried his little notebook. It was just a matter of being away from it just enough to miss it. I know it sounds silly, and I look very right and I look very correct now, but I always thought he would do it again.
You did say that to THR weeks ago.
But I would have said it a year ago, too. I couldn’t tell you when, I just always thought.
Do you know if he approached any of the cast? J.B. Smoove said last week that he got the call from Larry.
I didn’t ask, but I would assume he sort of reached out to everybody. And again, him saying he’s ready, that means he’s going to start writing. They’re not ready for production tomorrow. So I’m sure there will be a lot to figure out. Jeff [Garlin]’s schedule, Susie [Essman]'s schedule, J.B.’s schedule, Larry’s schedule, and besides, people like myself who have gone on to other things, a lot of his favorite crew people are probably working on other things, and I’m sure it will become a little bit of, how can the people who want to work on the show figure out how to work on the show? That will be a little bit of a thing. So, I don’t think it will be tomorrow.
I believe Jeff has in his Goldbergs contract that if Curb comes back he can do it.
I have no doubt about that, and that’s one of the many reasons Jeff Garlin is so great.
What about Cheryl Hines, do you think she’ll come back?
In the previous season I think we saw her a couple of times. I think that’s a creative decision to be figured out, but obviously, Larry loves her and Larry loves working with her and she brings out a certain side of him in a great way. So, hopefully.
Did Larry say if it would be taking place or shooting in L.A.?
We did not get into any of this! I don’t have a lot of answers, I want to be very clear about that. (Laughs.)
Were there any discussions with HBO programming president Casey Bloys?
I had a brief conversation with Casey at some point where he was making sure I knew and I was like, "Oh yeah, I kind of knew." So that was about it.
What does Julia Louis-Dreyfus think?
I assume she’s heard about it like everybody else. But I’ve made it clear, Larry knows what my day job is. He’s part of the reason I have the job that I have, so I will try everything I can to help but, one way or another, we’re going to start shooting Veep by the start of October. That’s my chief concern.
How do you envision your role then — writing and directing episodes whenever you can?
It would probably be the kind of thing where, if I had to guess, I’ll be whatever help I can on the writing side, whether it’s a couple of ideas or whatever, and then maybe with any luck, the timing will work out where I could direct a couple. That’d be the dream for me, to be able to do Veep and be able to keep a foot at Curb, I’d be thrilled. In terms of things I want to work on, it couldn’t get much better than that, unless the year got longer and there was some way to be in both places at the same time. But barring that, that would be incredible.
So Jeff and Larry are starting to write, pretty much right now?
Did he have any guess as to when it would go into production?
Zero. And [it] doesn’t concern him. The beautiful thing about Curb Your Enthusiasm, both in the way that Larry does it and in the way HBO lets him do it, is production starts when he feels comfortable with the outlines.
It’s been five years, so it will be interesting to see where he picks up with the show.
He could still be in Paris. That’s where we left off!
Any ideas or storylines you’d want to see happen?
I have a whole long list of stuff. The great Curb episodes are: Something happens in my life, like I get into a fight with somebody at a bank or something or whatever, and you write it down. Or something happens and you go, “Oh, I wish I said something." And you write that down. So that’s how Curb works. I have a long list and I’m sure so does Jeff, so does Larry, it’ll be great!
So you’ve been writing for a while too.
I add to my list.
Follow along with THR's weekly Veep coverage with Mandel here.