Leno returns, ‘Curb’ ends

Gray Areas

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

• Jay Leno will return to the Mahoning Valley for a Sept. 12 performance at Stambaugh Auditorium.

Leno hosted “The Tonight Show” for 22 seasons, succeeding Johnny Carson behind the desk, but he never left standup comedy, regularly performing on weekends while doing the television show.

If I’m remembering correctly, Leno played at Powers Auditorium in the late 1980s or early ’90s before beating David Letterman for “The Tonight Show” gig, and his most recent area appearance was a show at Warren’s Packard Music Hall in 2016.

Even though he was feeling under the weather that day, car fanatic Leno took a pre-performance tour of the National Packard Museum next door.

Leno also hosts “Jay Leno’s Garage,” which appeared on CNBC and currently can be seen on YouTube. One of the vehicles featured on that show — a replica of the boattail speedster used by engineer Jesse Vincent to test new engines he designed for Packard Motors — was built by Jerry Miscevich, who grew up in Warren and Mecca. The replica vehicle now is part of the National Packard Museum’s permanent collection.

Tickets for Leno range from $39 to $89 and will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at experienceyourarts.org. The show is being presented by The Muransky Companies and will benefit The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.

• “Curb Your Enthusiasm” ended Sunday after 12 seasons on HBO.

Howland native Jeff Schaffer has been involved with the show since its inception, and for the last several years he’s partnered with Larry David on the comedy, serving as its principal director and as a co-writer and co-producer with David.

Back when I interviewed him in February at the start of the season, Schaffer understandably was tight-lipped about what to expect from the final season.

Spoiler alert for those who aren’t caught up — David and Schaffer decided to embrace the divisive “Seinfeld” finale and have the season end with David on trial for violating Georgia’s voting laws by giving a woman a bottle of water while waiting to cast her ballot.

A parade of past guest stars return as witnesses to share tales of David’s bad behavior from previous seasons, and David (like Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer) ends up in jail … at least for a while.

Schaffer could be a little more forthcoming about the ideas behind the final season in an interview this week with the New York Times after the finale.

“When you start with a crime, one of the possibilities is a trial,” Schaffer told the Times. “So that was floating around, one of the many paths that we could go down.

“We were just talking about a little story, of Larry not wanting to be involved in a kid’s lesson. We talk out the scene and distill it down to a few lines. In character, he said, ‘I’m 75 years old, I’ve never learned a thing in my life.’ And that was the moment for us where we said, ‘Hold on a second, what if we just blew that up and just told everybody: ‘Larry’s never learned his lesson,’ and just did the ‘Seinfeld’ trial again?’ Just owned it. Like, we know what you thought of that, and we don’t care. We’ve learned nothing. We’re going right at it. We’re steering the Titanic right back at the iceberg.”

I didn’t hate the “Seinfeld” ending the way many fans did, but I described it as “vaguely unsatisfying” back in 1998 (I looked it up).

Maybe I’ve mellowed; maybe I was better prepared this time for what “Curb” delivered. But it felt like both a fitting homage to the show that gave David the creative freedom to do 12 seasons of “Curb” and different enough to serve as a satisfying conclusion … assuming David doesn’t change his mind and bring the show back for another round.


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