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Whatever happened to Paul Reiser?

Paul Reiser was all over TV for most of the '80s and '90s. Between his stand-up comedy specials, replays of movies he acted in (particularly Diner and Alien), and of course his hit sitcoms, My Two Dads and Mad About You, Reiser was everywhere. Since that latter Emmy-winning Must See TV wrapped up after seven seasons in 1999, Reiser hasn't been as much of a fixture as he once was. Here's what he's been up to.

The Paul Reiser Show was swiftly canceled

Reiser has taken on supporting roles in several series, but his return to TV as the star of a show was a disaster. NBC massively hyped The Paul Reiser Show, which debuted in the middle of the 2010-2011 season. On the Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque show, Reiser played "Paul Reiser," the former star of a huge hit TV show who hasn't worked in a while and is growing bored and restless. 

Despite heavy promotion, a spot alongside Community, The Office, and 30 Rock in NBC's Thursday night lineup of acclaimed comedies, and headlined by the guy from Mad About You, The Paul Reiser Show bombed right out of the gate. Its debut episode garnered the worst ratings for the first episode of a midseason replacement comedy in NBC history. After the second episode fared even worse, NBC canceled The Paul Reiser Show. 

A couple weeks later, Reiser honored a commitment to promote the now-canceled sitcom on The Tonight Show. He made a few savage quips at the network's expense about his show's demise, such as, "When you're the last place network, you don't want to jeopardize that."

He's on an Amazon original series

With the exception of Transparent, the streaming shows available on Amazon Video don't get as much attention as the original series on competing services Netflix and Hulu. Paul Reiser co-stars on one of the service's best offerings, the low-key comedy Red Oaks. Set at a country club in the 1980s, Craig Roberts plays David Myers, a college student trying to figure out his future and his love life. 

Over the show's three-season run, Reiser portrayed David's mentor, club president Doug Getty. He's a cranky, even mean guy, which Reiser says makes for a fun role. "It's fun to play something different," he told Parade. "What's fun about this is your get to actually be sort of nasty, and you can say really cruel stuff, yet you still kind of like [Getty]."

He created a 1970s-set comedy

In addition to starring in sitcoms, Reiser also makes them up. Back in the '90s, he co-created Mad About You, and more recently he teamed up with producer David Steven Simon to make There's...Johnny! It's set at The Tonight Show circa 1972, centering on a fresh-off-the-bus Nebraskan teenager who gets hired as a gofer for Johnny Carson and the rest of the production staff. Reiser doesn't, however, act on the show, which stars Ian Nelson (The Hunger Games), Jane Levy (Suburgatory), and Tony Danza. 

The show wrapped shooting in late 2016, and was set to debut on NBC Universal's all-comedy streaming service Seeso in the summer of 2017. But after that site shut down, There's...Johnny! sat in limbo, in danger of never being seen. "I've been on shows that the network canceled, but I've never had a show actually cancel the network," Reiser semi-joked to Indiewire. Eventually, another NBC-connected property, Hulu, secured the rights to the show.

He doesn't want to reboot Mad About You

It seems like every prominent new TV show of the past few years has been a reboot or a revival of a '90s TV show. Nostalgic viewers can choose from continuations of Full House, Twin Peaks, Will & Grace, and The X-Files...but not Mad About You. 

NBC's sitcom about a cute and clever couple won't be coming back—mostly because star and creator Paul Reiser has no interest in reviving it. "One of the things we deliberately did in the finale was that we jumped ahead in the future," Reiser told Variety. "We saw where they went." He told The Guardian that reunion shows are "a novelty item" and that "all you can say is, 'Wow, they look old!'" 

However, if Reiser ever were to do it (even though he totally doesn't want to), he knows how he'd do it—as a single-camera comedy without a studio audience (like Modern Family or Veep), which NBC wouldn't allow back in 1992 because it hadn't been done yet.

He was on a Mad About You-esque series

Another reason why Reiser doesn't want to explore Paul and Jamie Buchman's life in the 2010s is because he feels like he already made that show. That show was called Married, and it ran for two seasons on FX (from 2014 to 2015). 

Nat Faxon and Judy Greer played a long-married couple caught up in the annoyances of life as they ran headlong into middle age. Reiser had a recurring role on the series as Shep, a friend of the main characters. "When they asked me to be on Married, I thought, 'Wait, didn't I do that show already?'" Reiser said. Admittedly, Married and Mad About You shared the similarities of a couple struggling with their relationship, their family, and growing older, all while "getting on each other's nerves and falling deeper in love."

He wrote another book

Like a lot of other comedians—George Carlin, Chelsea Handler, and Ellen DeGeneres to name a few—Reiser wrote a few books. His first two collections of humorous essays were bestsellers back in the 1990s. Couplehood looked at love and marriage, and Babyhood explored his thoughts on bringing new lives into the world. In 2011, Reiser completed his trilogy with Familyhood. He expands on the themes of the other books, reflecting on his rapidly-growing-up kids and his joys and struggles as a parent and husband.

He's doing stand-up comedy again

Reiser gained prominence in the 1980s as one of the most popular stand-up comics around. In 2013, he embarked on a tour of theaters and casinos to tell jokes, something he hadn't done in 20 years. "It wasn't hard. It was exciting," he told the Phoenix New Times. He added that it took "months and months" before he got his rhythm down. His material has also necessarily evolved. 

"Life changes, but there's comedy in all of it. And audiences still laugh because they're going through the same things."

He released an album

Reiser does stand-up, acts, creates TV show, writes books, and as if that weren't enough, he's a musician, too. Reiser studied music in college, and he plays the piano and sings. He co-wrote "The Final Frontier," aka the Mad About You theme song. After that show finished, he planned to immediately dive into music, with the aim of writing a symphony. Instead, about a decade passed and he instead recorded Unusual Suspects, an album of soft rock with English singer-songwriter Julia Fordham.

He's going to be in Stranger Things

Not too many details about the highly-anticipated second season of Netflix's nostalgic horror/sci-fi smash Stranger Things have been divulged, but at least one thing has been confirmed: Paul Reiser is going to be in it. He'll play a new character named Dr. Owens, who comes to the spooky town of Hawkins, Indiana, to get its many horrifying occurrences under control. Because the show's foundation is a pastiche of homages to classic movies and TV shows, casting Reiser is a nod to the actor's work as turncoat Burke in Alien. 

While explaining the second season to their Netflix bosses, Stranger Things creators Ross Duffer and Matt Duffer even called the possibly good, possibly bad Dr. Owens character "Paul Reiser." "We want people to have those debates like, 'Do you trust the guy or is he Burke?'" Ross Duffer told Entertainment Weekly.

He'll be in Matthew Weiner's Mad Men follow-up series

Reiser has a role in another hotly anticipated TV series. He's signed on for a role in The Romanoffs, an upcoming eight-episode series created by Mad Men mastermind Matthew Weiner. Each episode of the anthology series revolves around a common theme: the stories are about present-day people who believe they're descendants of the Romanoffs, the royal family that ruled Russia for three centuries, until they were overthrown and executed during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Reiser's exact role is still being kept secret; the show hits Amazon in 2018.