David Spade looks to life beyond 'Rules of Engagement'
* TV comedy returns for what could be last season
* Spade plays womanizing manager
By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Comedian David Spade, wearing a sleek gray suit, slinks along the set of "Rules of Engagement," past his character's executive office and the greasy diner where he trades sarcastic one-liners with the rest of the cast.
Soon, the jokes will likely end.
A new season of the comedy starts on Monday on local televison stations. But Spade said he expects this seventh season of the show to last 13 episodes - rather than the usual slate of 22 - and bring the series to an end.
Spade, who in the 1990s rose to fame on "Saturday Night Live" with biting one-liners about Hollywood celebrities, has since settled into a successful career as a mainstream star in his own right.
Before playing the shallow and flirty manager Russell Dunbar on "Rules of Engagement," he had similar television roles in "Just Shoot Me!" and "8 Simple Rules."
Spade, 48, said he is looking forward to doing something different next time - if only slightly.
"I only have one note, let's be honest," Spade told Reuters. "But I'll play a different version of that one note."
Spade said he realizes he is not like Oscar winner Robert De Niro and able to tackle "all these different levels" as an actor. But he would like his next project to not be a traditional TV comedy.
"If I played the same (type of character) but I had a wife and kid, it would be different," Spade said. "If I'm a cop it would be different."
MISTRESSES AND GIRLFRIENDS
"Rules of Engagement" centers on a pair of couples trying to make their relationships work and their single friends, including Spade's character, who chime in from the sidelines. It also stars Patrick Warburton, Megyn Price, Oliver Hudson, Bianca Kajlich and Adhir Kalyan.
The show averaged 10.1 million viewers last season, not far off its first-season average of over 12 million. But CBS kept fans guessing before finally deciding to renew "Rules of Engagement," after the television industry's annual programming presentations to advertisers in May.
"I like the show, it makes me laugh," Spade said. "People that like it, like it."
Spade, sitting in his dressing room at a Los Angeles studio soundstage where the show is filmed, said that he feels the show at times has been treated like a "mistress" by network executives who keep it on the blocks while they looked for a suitable replacement.
"They go out and try to find a new girlfriend and it doesn't work and they run back and they go: 'No, no, you're good, you're good.' And it doesn't work with girls and it seems to work with shows, I guess," he said.
"I have mistresses and no wife, that's the funny part," joked Spade, who is single.
A playboy who takes few things seriously, Dunbar is an ineffectual manager of his father's company, Dunbar Worldwide. He lets his assistant handle the work while he focuses on chasing women.
Despite all his womanizing, Spade's character was married for a time on the show. In an episode of the upcoming season, he will visit a sex addicts anonymous meeting with his ex-wife.
The comedian, whose film roles have included the 2010 "Grown Ups" and the 1995 "Tommy Boy" with his late friend Chris Farley, has never been married.
But he has dated a number of high-profile women over the years. In 2008, he revealed that he had a child with Playboy Playmate Jillian Grace.
While his character on "Rules of Engagement" appears to be more happy as a single man, Spade said that in real life he is just cautious about getting marriage right the first time.
"I feel like I've got this anti-marriage thing, but it's less that and more I'm over thinking it to get it right," Spade said. (Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Jill Serjeant)