NEW YORK (TheWrap) - David Mandel is one of only a handful of people in Hollywood not named Larry David who can legitimately claim to have written for both “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the two most influential TV sitcoms of the past 20 years.
With the eighth-season premiere of the HBO comedy arriving Sunday at 10 p.m. ET, the 40-year-old talks about what’s in store for Larry David this year, how he’s approaching a reboot of the 1985 movie “Fletch,” starring Chevy Chase, and whether there’ll be a ninth season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Q: This season, the show shifts to New York. Did you need to do this because you were out of ideas, like when “Laverne and Shirley” moved to Los Angeles?
A: Everyone’s always gone west. Laverne and Shirley went west. Lucy and Desi went west. No one ever went east, so I think that’s where we’re really reinventing the wheel here. No, honestly, look -- first of all, it was fun. Also, the thing about the show is, despite the fact that it takes place mostly in a three-block area of the Palisades in Los Angeles, it’s a New York show that happens to be set in the Palisades. So, there was an internal logic. Larry is the quintessential New Yorker, even though he hasn’t lived in New York in 20 years. It’s not like we took “The Dukes of Hazzard” and sent them up north. And the reason Larry goes to New York, I think people will really enjoy it. It’s a reason that only Larry David would go to New York for, or because of.
Q: He goes out there to find a perfect marble rye, doesn’t he?
A: I don’t want to give up the reason! It’s going to happen five episodes in. I’ll just say that it’s an incredibly unique Larry David reason, and only he would do it. I’ll leave it at that. Honestly, you would hate me if I actually told you because you will enjoy it that much more. It is not arbitrary. He doesn’t win the lottery and go there. He doesn’t do it because he loses a bet, or anything of that nature. It is a genuine reason, that only Larry David could have.
Q: Oh, so he go there because of a grudge?
A: It is grudge-related. It’s grudge-adjacent. That’s all I‘m saying! Changing the subject!
Q: You coined the incredibly useful expression “man hands” in the “Seinfeld” episode “The Bizarro Jerry.” Is that still the best line you’ve ever come up with?
A: Boy, it’s tough -- I don’t even really think like that, is the honest answer.
I mean, it’s probably “man hands,” or people using the word “bizarro.” But I enjoy weird little lines that probably no one cares about. That’s what I like. I‘m much more happy that there‘s, like, a James Polk reference in that episode than I am specifically about the catch-phrasiness of “man hands.” That’s where I‘m coming from. Because I personally don’t think James Polk gets enough credit for the westward expansion of the United States of America. That’s my agenda. Other people have their own -- but that’s my agenda.
Q: There’s going to be a big Polk reference in your “Fletch” script, isn’t there?
A: God willing.
Q: Are you bringing any Larry Davidisms to your revamp of “Fletch”?
A: Look, I love “Fletch.” I love “Fletch Lives.” There was nothing funnier than Chevy Chase back then. Like any other red-blooded American male, I can quote both movies at will. But because I loved that first movie so much, I devoured all of the books, the entire series, as a younger man and, you know, they definitely made their mark on me. Gregory McDonald wrote such amazing, crisp dialogue.
The differences between the books and the movies are small -- but also huge. In the books, the Fletch character is not above using a fake name, and things like that. But there are perhaps fewer funny wigs and funny teeth. So I think there’s an opportunity to go back to the source material. I know, that’s very, like, J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek”/“Batman Begins.” But they’re not bad models, taking things that are very beloved, and putting a new spin on them. In no way saying that the past is bad, but just going, “Here’s a new version.”
And I do think the Fletch character, in the books, is more of a character. He is more particular and has his own code of morality. I think Larry David has his own code of morality. And I think I have my own code of morality. There are certain things I wouldn’t do. There are certain things that I consider to be ultimate betrayals. Whether you think they are or not, I do. And hopefully, I can bring some of that to Fletch, if that makes sense. What I‘m basically saying is, the new Fletch is going to be a 50-year-old balding Jewish guy with glasses.
Q: What’s the status on season nine of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”?
A: I‘m in New York now, working on “The Dictator”...and Larry’s sort of at the point of going, “So when are you guys going to be done?” He sort of starting with the “So, when are you guys going to be back in L.A.?” And I’ll say “September” and he’ll go, “Well, maybe we’ll talk then.” Which doesn’t mean there’ll be a season nine, but it also doesn’t not mean season nine, if you know what I mean.
Q: Wait -- so Larry doesn’t die at the end of season eight? Thanks for the spoiler alert!
A: Oh, maybe he does. You don’t know that. He could have meant the Jeff Garlin and Susie Essman spinoff.
Q: Nice cover-up. And I suppose Larry did survive dying at the end of season five.
A: Exactly. I mean, he came back from that. If death can’t stop him, what can?