Larry Charles

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Larry Charles
Larry Charles TIFF 2008 - Religulous.jpg
Born (1956-12-01) December 1, 1956 (age 59)
Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Other names Rene Fonatine
Occupation Screenwriter, director
Notable work Seinfeld
Borat
Religulous
Brüno
The Dictator

Larry Charles (born December 1, 1956) is an American writer, director, and producer.

Charles is best known as a staff writer for the American sitcom Seinfeld for its first five seasons, contributing some of the show's darkest and most absurd storylines. He has also directed the mockumentary comedy films Borat and Brüno, the documentary film Religulous, and comedy film The Dictator.

Early life[edit]

Charles was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York to a Jewish family.[1] He was raised in the housing project Trump Village, located between Brighton Beach and Coney Island in Brooklyn.[2]

After graduating from John Dewey High School,[3] he attended college at Rutgers University in New Jersey, but he left school to perform comedy routines.[4]

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Larry Charles performed stand-up comedy during the 1970s until he was hired to write for the short-lived sketch comedy show Fridays, where he worked with Larry David, who would later give him a job as a writer on Seinfeld and director on Curb Your Enthusiasm. This began Charles' career in television writing that included The Arsenio Hall Show and eventually Seinfeld.

Seinfeld[edit]

Although series co-creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld wrote the bulk of the show's episodes during the first five seasons, Charles was their second in command during this period. Charles had met Seinfeld co-creator Larry David when he was part of the writing staff of the ABC sketch show Fridays, on which David and Michael Richards were also part of the show's ensemble cast.[5] Charles had been unable to write for the show's first season, as he had been writing for The Arsenio Hall Show during its production.[5][6]

Charles is noted for contributing some of the show's darker storylines and scenes. In the season two episode "The Baby Shower" Charles wrote a dream sequence in which the title character, Jerry Seinfeld, was killed. Charles' episodes also covered such controversial topics as Nazis (in "The Limo"), a psychotic stalker (in "The Opera") and a hospital patient committing suicide (in "The Bris"). A season two episode he wrote, "The Bet", concerning Elaine buying a handgun to protect herself, was never filmed because NBC, some of the cast and the show's director felt the gun content was too provocative.[7][8][9] Charles claimed that his writing on Seinfeld was heavily influenced by Dragnet, Superman and Abbott and Costello.[10]

Charles said he was instrumental in the development of Cosmo Kramer; he felt that "Jerry and George were so well-defined through Larry David and Jerry, that there was less room for me to, sort of, expand on those personas. But Kramer was very unformed at the beginning of the show and it gave me an area of creativity to, sort of, expand upon. So I spent a lot of time with Kramer because he was a character that I could have an impact on in the future of the show".[9] It was Charles who imbued in Kramer a distrust of authority (especially in his episodes "The Baby Shower" and "The Heart Attack"), and who created the character of Kramer's notorious unseen friend Bob Sacamano, after his real-life friend of the same name.[11]

Episodes of Seinfeld written by Larry Charles
Season Episode Info
2 "The Baby Shower" Charles has stated about this episode: "I was extremely happy and proud with this show, and I loved the idea of doing that fantasy sequence, I loved the cinematic quality of the story where we kinda go from a plane to a fantasy sequence, and we have all these stories swirling around. I thought that it was a good template for later episodes."[9]
2 "The Statue"
2 "The Heart Attack" According to the Seinfeld Notes, Charles' own tonsils grew back in real life, just as George's do in the episode.
3 "The Library" The 'Inside Look' feature on the Seinfeld Season 3 DVD features Charles in an interview, talking about how he wanted to create a Jack Webb/Dragnet-style police monologue in a sitcom format, which was the inspiration for Lt. Bookman in this episode.[10]
3 "The Subway"
3 "The Fix-Up" Charles and Elaine Pope won the award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series at the 1992 Emmy Awards for this episode.
3 "The Limo"
3 "The Keys"
4 "The Trip Part 1"
4 "The Trip Part 2" Charles appears in a cameo alongside David on the far right of the screen next to the police when the authorities show up at Kramer's apartment in Los Angeles to arrest him for murder.
4 "The Opera"
4 "The Airport" Charles appears in a brief cameo as the passenger who vacates the plane's lavatory, leaving a foul stench that Elaine Benes must endure as she uses the lavatory while holding her breath.
4 "The Outing" Charles was nominated for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Comedy Series at the 1993 Emmys for this episode.
4 "The Old Man"
5 "The Bris"
5 "The Stall"
5 "The Fire"

Charles also has a cameo in the episode titled "The Parking Garage," which was written by David.

Mad About You[edit]

In 1995, Charles left the writing staff of Seinfeld to join that of another hugely successful mid-1990s sitcom: Paul Reiser's Mad About You.

Episodes of Mad About You written by Larry Charles
Season Episode Info
4 "Fertility"
4 "The Procedure"
4 "The Weed" Co-written with Billy Grundfest
4 "The Award" Co-written with Seth Kurland and Ron Darian
4 "The Finale (1)" Co-written with Billy Grundfest and Victor Levin
4 "The Finale (2)" Co-written with Billy Grundfest, Victor Levin, and Paul Reiser
4 "The Finale (3)" Co-written with Billy Grundfest, Victor Levin, and Paul Reiser
5 "Dr. Wonderful" Co-written with Victor Levin
5 "The Grant" Co-written with Richard Day, Victor Levin and Jenji Kohan
5 "Burt's Building" Co-written with Victor Levin and Ron Darian
5 "The Gym" Co-written with Richard Day and Victor Levin
5 "Chicken Man" Co-written with Ron Darian and Jonathan Leigh Solomon
5 "Astrology" Co-written with Jenji Kohan
5 "The Penis" Co-written with Richard Day and Maria Semple
5 "On The Road" Co-written with Richard Day and Paul Reiser
5 "The Dry Run" Co-written with David Guarascio and Moses Port
5 "The Birth (1)"
5 "The Birth (2)"

The Tick, Dilbert[edit]

Charles served as executive producer on two short-lived programs, The Tick (for which he wrote two episodes), and the Dilbert animated series, which he co-developed with Scott Adams and co-wrote the following episodes:

Season Title Notes
1 "The Name" Co-written with Scott Adams
1 "The Takeover" Co-written with Scott Adams and Ned Goldreyer
1 "Little People" Co-written with David Silverman, Stephen Sustarsic, and Scott Adams
1 "The Knack" Co-written with Ned Goldreyer and Scott Adams
1 "Y2k" Co-written with Andrew Borakove, Rachel Powell, and Scott Adams
1 "Charity" Co-written with Stephen Sustarsic, David Silverman, and Scott Adams
1 "Holiday" Co-written with Ned Goldreyer, Stephen Sustarsic, David Silverman, and Scott Adams
1 "The Infomercial" Co-written with Ned Goldreyer and Scott Adams
2 "Art" Co-written with Ned Goldreyer and Scott Adams
2 "The Dupey" Co-written with Scott Adams
2 "The Merger" Co-written with Scott Adams
2 "Hunger" Co-written with Scott Adams
2 "The Assistant" Co-written with Mark Steen, Ron Nelson, and Scott Adams
2 "The Return" Co-written with Ned Goldreyer and Scott Adams
2 "The Virtual
Employee
"
Co-written with Ned Goldreyer and Scott Adams
2 "Pregnancy" Co-written with Scott Adams
2 "The Delivery" Co-written with Scott Adams
2 "The Fact" Co-written with Ron Nelson, Mark Steen, and Scott Adams
2 "Ethics" Co-written with Scott Adams

Curb Your Enthusiasm[edit]

In 2000, Charles began his first job as a director on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David's follow-up series to Seinfeld (which Larry David co-created). Charles directed 17 episodes of the hit HBO show.

Episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm directed by Larry Charles
Season Episode Notes
1 "The Wire"
2 "Trick Or Treat"
3 "The Benadryl Brownie"
3 "The Nanny From Hell" Charles was nominated in the 'Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series' categories at both the Directors Guild of America and Emmy Award ceremonies for this episode.
4 "Mel's Offer"
4 "The Blind Date"
4 "The Surrogate"
4 "The Survivor" Charles received his second Emmy nomination in the category of 'Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series' for this episode.
5 "The Bowtie"
5 "The Ski Lift"
5 "The End" Charles received his second Directors Guild of America nomination for 'Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series' for this episode.
6 "Meet the Blacks"
6 "The Bat Mitzvah"
7 "Funkhouser's Crazy Sister"
7 "The Bare Midriff"
8 "Mister Softee"

Entourage[edit]

Charles served as an executive producer and writer on the HBO show Entourage for the first two seasons. The episodes that he wrote were:

Episodes of Entourage written by Larry Charles
Season Episode Info
1 "Talk Show"
1 "Busey and the Beach" co-written with Doug Ellin
1 "New York" co-written with Doug Ellin
2 "Chinatown" co-written with Brian Burns

Film[edit]

Charles's feature debut was Masked and Anonymous (2003) which he directed, and co-wrote with Bob Dylan (under the pseudonyms Rene Fontaine and Sergei Petrov, respectively). The film received a mixed reaction from audiences and critics alike; it did poorly at the box office.[4] Charles maintains it takes many viewings to get true enjoyment from the film: "I want the movie to be like a great Bob Dylan song that is listened to over and over and for people to [go] back and see it again and get a lot more things, or totally different things."[12]

His second feature film as director, the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy mockumentary Borat, was much more successful; it "set new records in terms of profitability; on a budget of 18 million dollars, it grossed in excess of 261 million dollars."[4] In an interview, Charles discussed how, because of the nature of the mockumentary process, he had to act as well, even if none of his performance made it to the screen: "We all, especially me, had to play a character as well. I wasn't Larry Charles when we were on the road. We all had to be in character, and we had to balance that with our aesthetic and logistical needs to produce the movie properly [...] The director also had to act."[13] The film was nominated for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes.

Talking with fans outside TIFF premiere of Religulous, 2008

Charles's third film was Religulous — a documentary about Bill Maher's take on the state of contemporary religion[14] — which was released in October 2008.

Filmography as director

Live performances[edit]

Charles rarely performs live, but has appeared at Un-Cabaret and can be heard on several of its podcasts.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sharp, Rob (2008-07-21). "Larry Charles is turning his razor-sharp wit on world religion - and no one will be spared". Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  2. ^ Charles, Larry. "Larry Charles at John Dewey HS Reunion part 1". JDHarchives.webs.com. Dewey's 40th Anniversary. Retrieved September 23, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Dewey's 40th Anniversary". JDHarchives.webs.com. Retrieved September 23, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c "Larry Charles Biography". RottenTomatoes.com. Retrieved September 23, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Seinfeld Seasons 1 & 2: Notes about Nothing - "The Baby Shower" (DVD). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. November 3, 2004. 
  6. ^ Donlon, Brian (October 2, 1991). "Seinfeld hits stride // Stand-up sitcom finds its following". USA Today. p. 1D. 
  7. ^ Alexander, Jason. Seinfeld Seasons 1 & 2: Inside Looks - "The Bet" (DVD). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 
  8. ^ Cherones, Tom. Seinfeld Seasons 1 & 2: Inside Looks - "The Bet" (DVD). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 
  9. ^ a b c Charles, Larry. Seinfeld Seasons 1 & 2: Audio Commentary - "The Baby Shower" (DVD). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 
  10. ^ a b "Seinfeld - Season 3 DVD Review". Sitcoms Online. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  11. ^ LaScala, Marisa (2014-01-21). "11 Famous Television Characters We Never Actually Saw". Mental Floss. Retrieved 2014-12-26. 
  12. ^ "Interview with Larry Charles". Reelmoviecritic.com. Archived from the original on February 16, 2009. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  13. ^ Charles, Larry (January 11, 2007). "RT Interview: High Five! — Borat Director Larry Charles talks awards, his religion doc, and the Motley Crüe biopic". RottenTomatoes.com. Interview with Tim Ryan. Retrieved September 23, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Bill Maher Talks Religion Documentary". Worstpreviews.com. August 19, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Nicolas Cage Shooting a Movie in Morocco". Morocco World News. Rabat. 28 March 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "uncabaret Audiobooks". Audible.com. 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 

External links[edit]