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Seinfeld aired from July 1989 until September 1998 on NBC.
Standup comics were frequently cast in TV sitcoms in the 1990's; this
one brought his regular stage act with him. Jerry Seinfeld portrayed
himself as a young single comic in New York coping with dating, nutty
friends and the indignities of city life. Elaine (Julia
Louise-Dreyfus) was his ex-girlfriend and platonic pal; real estate
agent George (Jason Alexander), his worrywart best friend and
eccentric entrepreneur Kramer (Michael Richards), the next door
neighbor who wandered in and out of his apartment. Stories revolved
around innocent little misadventures of love and life, which Jerry
then commented on in his regular stage routine (which was seen in
cutaways to a nightclub where Jerry was performing).
Seinfeld, the "show about nothing," gradually grew into an enormous
hit on NBC and was the archetypal friends-hanging-out series of the
1990's. Although most of the stories were about life's trivia (
waiting in line, forgetting where your car is parked, throwing out
someone's prized TV Guide), there were occasional longer story arcs,
such as George and Jerry's efforts in 1992-1993 to sell NBC a TV
series based on...nothing. Others included George's job with the New
York Yankees (1994-1997) in which Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
was frequently heard but not seen; and his engagement to Susan (Heidi
Swedberg)(1995-1996) which ended , to his all-too-obvious relief, when
she died licking out-of-date cheap envelopes for their wedding
invitations. Elaine originally worked as an editor at a publishing
house; later (1995) she went to work as a copywriter for globetrotting
catalog magnate J. Peterman ( John O'Hurley)
Numerous recurring characters were seen, some quite memorable. Among
them were Jerry's parents, Helen and Morty (Liz Sheridan, Barney
Martin); George's folks, Estelle and Frank (Estelle Harris, Jerry
Stiller) who was neurotic as he was; Newman ( Wayne Knight), the
malevolent postal worker; Elaine's bosses Mr. Lippman ( Richard Fancy)
and later Mr. Pitt ( Ian Abercrombie); her hapless boyfriend Puddy (
Patrick Warburton); her comical staler Crazy Joe ( Peter Crombie);
George's ill-fated girlfriend Susan; his boss at the Yankees Wilhelm (
Richard Herd); Jerry's ill-humored Uncle Leo ( Len Lesser); his
pragmetic dentist , Tim ( Bryan Cranston); rival comedian Kenny (
Steve Hytner); Kramer's pompous attorney Jackie Chiles ( Phil Morris);
his short friend Mickey ( Danny Woodburn), and the obsessed President
of NBC, Russell ( Bob Balaban) to whom Jerry and George pitched their
pilot.The gang frequently hung out at Monk's Diner. Memorable stories
included The Pez Despenser (1992); Elaine showing a bit too much of
her breast on a Christmas Card(1992);Jerry and the Date(Susan Walters)
whose name he could never remember-"It rhymes with a female body
part"(1993); Jerry wearing a silly puffy pirate shirt on the Today
Show (1993); the gang's experiment at a local soup restaurant run by
the tyrannical "Soup Nazi"(1995);Kramer trying to smuggle in some
Cubans 9Cigars), and instead getting a group of real Cubans-who turned
out to actually be Dominicans ( 1997); and the backwards
episode(1997), in which the scenes were shown in reverse order-first
the final scene (a wedding in India), then the scene that led up to
it, then the scene that led up to that, and so on all the way back to
13 years before the ceremony took place.
In December 1997, Jerry Seinfeld announced that he was quitting while
he was on top-Seinfeld had been the number one or number 2 program on
TV for the previous four years.In the much hyped final episode, on May
14, 1998, NBC was again interested in George and Jerry's fictional
pilot. The network loaned them a private jet, and the gang was on the
way to Paris when the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in
Latham, Massachusetts. While waiting for repairs, they witnessed a
carjacking, which they of course made jokes about, resulting in their
arrest under the town's new Good samaritan Law because the "did
nothing" to stop a crime. The incident quickly escalated into a cause
celebre, with Geraldo Rivera reporting live from the scene. Characters
whom they had slighted over the past 8 years came pouring into town,
delighted to testify against them at their trial (particularly Newman,
who could barely contain his glee). At the end they were convicted of
crimes against common decency and sentenced to a year in jail-where
Jerry immediately began doing standup routines for the disinterested
inmates. The self-centered protagonists on the "show about nothing"
had received their comeuppance.
An Article from the New York Times
A Single Comedian Is Returning to His Roots
By MICHAEL KORNFELD
July 23, 1989
Jerry Seinfeld has made a career out of sharing stories, anecdotes, witty quips and truisms about everyday things and experiences that people can relate to.
Take breakfast cereal (''You go into the store and buy Grape Nuts. No grapes; no nuts. What's the story here?'') Or matrimony (''If I'm the best man, why is she marrying him?'') or McDonald's hamburgers (''Why are they still counting at 65 billion. What's the goal? Do they want cows to turn themselves in voluntarily?'') Mr. Seinfeld, Brooklyn-born and Massapequa-raised, is 34 years old. He has made a career of his acute, perceptive and somewhat warped observations of human foibles and the inanities, oddities and nuisances of everyday life.
He tells them from unusual angles and accents them with his animated characterizations of people and inanimate objects (like a sock trying to escape from a dryer).
Voted the ''funniest male stand-up comic in a comedy club'' in the 1988 American Comedy Awards, Mr. Seinfeld has made frequent guest appearances on ''The Tonight Show'' and ''Late Night With David Letterman.'' His own HBO special, ''Jerry Seinfeld's Stand-Up Confidental'' aired in 1987-1988. Mr. Seinfeld will have a homecoming of sorts when he appears with the singer Phoebe Snow at the Westbury Music Fair Friday.
''It's pretty exciting,'' Mr. Seinfeld said of the engagement. ''When you grow up on Long Island, Westbury is kind of like the Hollywood Palace.'' His previous Long Island appearances have been at comedy clubs like Governor's in Levittown and Laffs in Hampton Bays.
Noting that he has never had top billing at a theater as large as Westbury - a 2,870-seat theater-in-the-round - Mr. Seinfeld says it promises to be ''a unique experience,'' and ''especially nice'' since it is on Long Island. ''I don't think I could do it yet [ star before so many people ] except in my hometown.'' 'Not Too Exciting'
Although he has fond memories of placing second in pole-vaulting for Massapequa High School in a track and field meet during the early 1970's, Mr. Seinfeld, who has made the traumas of childhood and of growing up a major part of his stand-up routines, says growing up on Long Island was ''not too exciting.''
However, the comedian, who now maintains apartments in Manhattan and Los Angeles, acknowledges the advantage of ''being close to the city.
''Being that close to a center of show business makes you feel like that's an option to you,'' Mr. Seinfeld said. He began performing stand-up comedy at ''open mike'' audition nights in small New York City clubs after graduating from Queens College. There were no comedy clubs on Long Island when he started out, he said.
''I always wanted to be a comedian,'' Mr. Seinfeld recalled. As a youngster on Long Island, he watched comedians on television and was told by his parents that the comedian's job was to come out and be funny for people. ''I couldn't believe it,'' he said, ''That's his whole job? Are you kidding me? And they said, no, he's kidding us.''
Now, it's Jerry Seinfeld who is doing the kidding. Mr. Seinfeld, who views his brand of comedy as ''observational humor with a personal twist,'' writes all of his own material and believes that expressing his own ideas is very important. ''People don't want to hear joke-book jokes: they want to hear originality. You can be funny anytime you want to, but a comedian has to be funny at 8 o'clock.''
''I like people who do regular jokes. . ., Bill Cosby, Robert Klein, George Carlin. . .. But I never really patterned myself after anyone.'' While many of his contemporaries rely on shock value to evoke laughs, Mr. Seinfeld's stand-up act is devoid of insulting barbs, props, screeching and profanity.
When you use dirty humor, he said, you don't know if people are laughing at the joke or the vulgarity. ''People just care if you're funny,'' he said, ''I love laughter. Every laugh feels like the best laugh you've ever got.''
While he enjoys live performances, Mr. Seinfeld says the highlights of his career to date all involve television. His first appearance on ''The Tonight Show'' in 1981, his first cable television special, and his recent 30-minute comedy pilot for NBC-TV, ''Seinfeld Chronicles,'' he said, were especially memorable.
The Single Life
Mr. Seinfeld hopes that ''Chronicles,'' a show about single life, combining situation comedy and stand-up bits, will be picked up next season. While professing not to have any recollections of dating on Long Island, Mr. Seinfeld says ''The singles scene is one of the main themes of life; it seems natural to talk about it.''
An Article from the New York Times
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: She Who Gives 'Seinfeld' Estrogen
By ELIZABETH KOLBERT
June 3, 1993
MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- Strangers stop her on the street, wanting to know how she does her hair. They sidle up to her in restaurants or scurry over when she is filling her car with gasoline.
"Elaine!" they say. "Is that you, Elaine?"
For a television star whose job it is to appear every week in millions of living rooms, this kind of confusion is probably an inevitable occupational hazard. There are always some addled viewers who can't quite keep straight the difference between lifelike comedy and everyday life. But for a star of "Seinfeld," a show that features a stand-up comic named Jerry Seinfeld playing a stand-up comic named Jerry Seinfeld who is writing a television show called "Jerry" about a stand-up comic, such confusion isn't just incidental. It is essential.
On this particular afternoon, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays "Seinfeld's" perpetually single Elaine, is visiting her father in northern Westchester. (Her parents divorced when she was 1, and, growing up, she split her time between this house and her mother's in Washington.) Dressed in black jeans, a light blue oxford shirt and cowboy boots, she is sitting on the living room couch, her legs tucked under her.
Petite, her famously voluminous hair in a tangle of bobby pins, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus (pronounced LOO-ee-DRY-fuss) has a vaguely distracted yet eager-to-please manner. With one ear, she listens for her 10 1/2-month-old son, Henry Hall, who is out for a walk with her husband, the actor and producer Brad Hall.
There is often an awkward moment when fans catch sight of Ms. Louis-Dreyfus with Henry. It is, she reports, as if they had just realized that she lives on, even after 10 P.M. on Thursdays. "When I'm out with my son," she said, "they remark, 'Oh, my God, I had no idea.' "
Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, who is 32, was visibly pregnant with Henry through much of last year's season. This explains why she spent so many episodes carrying large objects and wearing loose dresses. "I shot like this a lot," she said, clutching a pillow from the couch in front of her. Henry's arrival was timed to coincide with the end of shooting last spring.
Although "Seinfeld" is in its third season on NBC, it is only recently that the show has become a genuine megahit and Ms. Louis-Dreyfus a genuine television star. This is a development that she describes, as if genuinely trying to convey the weirdness of it all, as at once gratifying and disconcerting.
"Sometimes it's really fun, I have to tell you something, that's the truth," she said. "You know, you wave, 'Oh, hello, hello,' and everybody's waving and they're so excited to see you and it's fun. Then there are moments when it's a little difficult. Sometimes people come up to me and they want to talk about the show, and I respect that. But sometimes I can't talk about the show, because I've got a kid with a dirty diaper, but I don't want to seem rude. And those kinds of moments I'm still working on negotiating."
On the strength of her television success, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus has received her first major film role, in "North," directed by Rob Reiner, which she describes as an adult fairy tale. (It is the film, parts of which are being shot in New Jersey, as well as visits with her mother and father, that brought her from Los Angeles.) Still, it is for "Seinfeld" and its wildly mundane brand of humor that she reserves most of her enthusiasm. She talks about the show not just as a step but in some ways as an arrival.
"It's probably the best job I'll ever have," she said. "It's maybe the best job there is."
"There's a certain sensibility that we all have about what's funny and we all share it," she went on. "You know that doesn't happen a lot. In fact, I'll go so far as to say this is the last time it will happen."
The members of the cast go out to dinner together in Los Angeles each week on Tuesdays, after an episode has been shot. Often during filming, the cast is laughing so hard the scenes have to be reshot, she said, and afterward, "we remind each other about lines, howling, howling."
"To tell you the truth, I think we find our show funnier than anybody else who watches."
In the course of an afternoon spent with Ms. Louis-Dreyfus at her father's house, which is best described as a suburban estate, with pool, orchard, barn, caretaker's quarters and big clapboard main residence on a hill behind a huge gate, nothing much happens that is in any obvious way reminiscent of "Seinfeld," in its distinctly Upper West Side milieu.
Still, even when Henry returns from his walk, and Ms. Louis-Dreyfus is feeding him mashed peas from a jar, it is easy to find oneself looking around for Kramer to burst through the kitchen door. This is because despite the superficial differences -- the baby, the husband, the successful career -- in many respects, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus is Elaine.
Three years ago, when Mr. Seinfeld was writing the first episodes of the show with his friend Larry David, who is now the executive director of the series as well as the model for the maddeningly neurotic George, no part for a woman was planned. But the two of them determined that the series, in Mr. Seinfeld's words, "lacked estrogen" and decided to add a female role. Mr. David, who had worked with Ms. Louis-Dreyfus when she was a cast member of "Saturday Night Live," asked her to audition for the part.
"We had a very vague idea of Elaine," Mr. Seinfeld said. "But once Julia walked in, we knew who Elaine was. We created her together."
Although Ms. Louis-Dreyfus has spent virtually all of her career in comedy, first as part of a comic theater group in Chicago, then at "Saturday Night Live" and now in "Seinfeld," without a script she does not sound much like an off-duty comedian. She has never been able to write her own material, she says, and does not consider herself a particularly funny person. This is a common condition for women, she says, which can be traced to the way they are brought up.
"I may be way off and Margaret Mead will correct me if I am, but I think men who are funny are encouraged to be funny," she said. "And I think women who are funny -- it's not that they're discouraged from it, but it's not considered in a social sense feminine."
Elaine, too, has a good sense of humor and a great laugh but is not herself a comic force. Like the young heroine in commedia dell'arte, she is several shades more conventional than the zanies with whom she shares the stage. In fact, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus says, she really shouldn't be hanging out with the likes of Jerry and George and Kramer in the first place.
"What is she doing with these guys?" she said. "It's nuts. She should get on with it."
Unfortunately, though, for Elaine, the fictional Jerry Seinfeld's former girlfriend, serious romance is out of the question.
"No," Ms. Louis-Dreyfus said, shaking her sadly, "that wouldn't be funny."
Even when she is not playing Elaine, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus speaks in a convincing, but it turns out misleading, New York accent. She grew up with her mother, stepfather and two half-sisters in Washington. But she remained close to her father and visited him and his wife and their two daughters during vacations and over the summer.
On this day, her father, William Louis-Dreyfus, a businessman-lawyer, is working at home so he can spend time with his daughter and her family. Like a considerate parent, he graciously absented himself while his daughter entertained an interviewer.
Ms. Louis-Dreyfus says she knew even as a girl that she wanted to be a performer but is grateful that her parents did not allow her to pursue the life of a child actress. Similarly, she will not be taking Henry to any auditions. "There's a lot to be said for having an adult, or a semi-adult, mind," she said.
It was while she was a student at Northwestern University that Ms. Louis-Dreyfus's acting career suddenly took off.
The summer between her junior and senior year she was appearing in a revue in Chicago with some friends, including her future husband, Mr. Hall, when the producers of "Saturday Night Live" showed up and offered them all jobs.
After three years on "Saturday Night Live," Ms. Louis-Dreyfus and Mr. Hall moved to Los Angeles, where they got married and where they now live in a four-bedroom house in the hills above Westwood. She went on to appear in the NBC sitcom "Day by Day;" he became a producer of "Brooklyn Bridge," the critically acclaimed series on CBS that was recently canceled. Neither wife nor husband spends much time in front of the television set.
"I don't have the time to watch television," Ms. Louis-Dreyfus said, "and I don't really like television, so I don't really watch it."
At a time when many Hollywood stars are considering political careers and playing up their ties to the White House, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, by contrast, does not consider her views on national policy to be particularly important. And she is glad, she said, to be working with actors who do not mistake acting for action.
"What's remarkable about Jerry is that he takes his work very seriously, yet at the same time he realizes what it is," she said. "We are not solving the economy and we are not curing cancer. We are just trying to make a good joke.
"Period. End of story."
A Review from the New York Times
'Seinfeld,' a Short Kvetch From Bizarre to Bizarro
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
October 31, 1996
The current season of NBC's ''Seinfeld,'' its eighth, began pointedly with an episode entitled ''Bizarro Jerry.'' After last season's finale, in which the fiancee of George (Jason Alexander) unexpectedly died after licking the toxic adhesive on cheap wedding invitations he insisted on buying, ''bizarro'' is an understatement when it comes to this truly wacky series. Even ardent fans cringed. Now, after the departure of Larry David, a creator, it's a question of whether ''Seinfeld'' is tumbling toward an episode called ''Jerry Finito.''
Don't bet on it. Even as this season seems determined to stretch the boundaries of ''Seinfeld'' lunacy, the ratings have shown no sign of weakness. The series, on Thursday nights at 9, remains in the top three of the weekly lists, and reruns are doing extraordinarily well in syndication. Why? It would take a philosopher on the level of George Santayana to come even close to an explanation.
This is probably the most improbable series in the history of television. Forget the saccharine cavortings of ''Friends.'' ''Seinfeld'' is totally and unapologetically New York neurotic, but with the kind of astonishing inventiveness that can produce memorable episodes on a par with the invigorating spectacle of the Yankees becoming baseball's World Champions. In fact, the team and its prickly owner, George Steinbrenner, became a running plot line in ''Seinfeld'' when George got a job with the Yankee organization.
Little in urban-life angst escapes ''Seinfeld.'' One episode last season offered a loaf of marble rye bread that became a major player in the first impressions that George's prospective in-laws got of his decidedly daffy parents. Another episode, titled ''The Soup Nazi,'' had Jerry and friends cowering before the autocratic demands of the owner of a small soup shop in Manhattan, a fellow who actually does exist. Local news programs were quick to pounce.
This season, ''Bizarro Jerry'' has found Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) entering a world of virtual reality with a new boyfriend who eerily resembled Jerry except that he was reliable and considerate. Moreover, his friends were physical clones of George and Kramer (Michael Richards). ''It's like Superman's opposite,'' observed Jerry, pinpointing the ''bizarro'' of the title. Meanwhile, Jerry was dating a beautiful young woman whose only flaw (flaws are inevitable on ''Seinfeld'') was having man's hands: meaty paws, whined Jerry, ''like a creature out of Greek mythology.'' Kramer drifted incomprehensibly into a corporate job in which he ''finally found structure'' and was able to strut about with a briefcase full of Ritz crackers.
In another episode, ''Elaine's Big Dance,'' Elaine invited George to an office party at which she proceeded to shock one and all with a dance that someone described as ''a full-bodied dry heave set to music.'' Elaine, of course, blamed George, insisting that he was a virus infecting her now estranged staff. Jerry, on the other hand, was dragooned by Kramer into filming theatrical movies on video camera for bootleg sales. The threatening entrepreneur, a friend of Kramer's, was delighted with Jerry's talent: ''The zoomings, the framings! I was enchanted.''
A season or so ago, Mr. Seinfeld narrated a prime-time tribute to Abbott and Costello, the comic team whose zany routines incorporated rapid-fire dialogues that used words as Ping-Pong balls. Their ''Who's on first'' routine is a classic. Part of Mr. Seinfeld's method comes out of that tradition. In his most recent episode, ''The Package,'' he parried with a postman who had a suspicious-looking package that Jerry didn't want to accept. When it comes to raising loony bickering to an art form, Abbott and Costello couldn't have done better.
But Mr. Seinfeld goes a step further, approaching the Theater of Absurd machinations of an Ionesco, who could turn an ordinary man into a rhinoceros. Jerry may have refused the package but his Uncle Leo, who is convinced that everyone is an anti-Semite, tried to do him a favor by accepting it. Jerry warned him not to open it. Uncle Leo reminded him that they had to go see his cousin in a Parks Department production of ''The Mikado.'' Said the not-quite-resigned Jerry, ''Open it, Uncle Leo.'' Just before the commercial break, the sound of a formidable explosion could be heard through the phone receiver. As it turned out, it was only a can of oven cleaner exploding, but curiously dark undertones lingered among the laughs.
After seven seasons, ''Seinfeld'' can be forgiven a certain recklessness. How long can a series about constantly fretting friends, all 40-ish, none of them married, each of them impossible, be stretched out? The joys of pondering one's navel, no matter how irresistible, eventually begin to sag. The Seinfeld gang seems to be saying, ''To hell with it, let's go for broke.'' Kramer talks increasingly about aliens. George uses the fact of his fiancee's death as a ploy for ''making chicks'' in a disco. Jerry, in his pressed jeans, is getting more finicky, testily warning off-to-work Kramer, ''Call if you're going to be late.''
''Seinfeld'' may indeed be on countdown to a departure, but you can be sure it will be a unique exit.
An Article from the New York Times
Seinfeld Says It's All Over, And It's No Joke for NBC
By BILL CARTER
December 26, 1997
Seinfeld,'' the most popular television comedy of the 1990's and the centerpiece of the most profitable night in television history, will stop production at the end of this season, Jerry Seinfeld, the show's creator and star, said yesterday.
''I wanted to end the show on the same kind of peak we've been doing it on for years,'' said Mr. Seinfeld. ''I wanted the end to be from a point of strength. I wanted the end to be graceful.''
The loss of ''Seinfeld,'' which made the country laugh at the soup Nazi, close-talkers, chip double-dippers and loaves of marble rye, is a serious blow to NBC, which has already seen its prime-time strength begin to weaken this season.
The show has anchored NBC's big Thursday night since 1993, leading the network to its No. 1 position and to record-making profits, approaching $1 billion this year. ''Seinfeld'' alone has made more than $200 million a year in profits for NBC, according to advertising industry estimates. No other network even tried to put another comedy against ''Seinfeld,'' which has become a cultural signpost in a class with ''I Love Lucy'' and ''The Honeymooners.''
NBC itself considered the show so important that in trying to persuade Mr. Seinfeld to stay, it offered him what one executive said was the most lucrative deal ever extended to a television star.
With the departure of the show, the balance of power in the competition for supremacy during prime time may well shift.
In a statement, NBC said: ''To keep a show of this caliber at its peak has been a great undertaking. We respect Jerry's decision that at the end of this season it's time to move on.''
An NBC official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity said the network would not try to dissuade Mr. Seinfeld by making further offers.
The long-anticipated decision to end the show was Mr. Seinfeld's. The comedian, who is both the show's star and its main creative force, said he decided late Tuesday to wrap up production with a finale episode in May. The remaining episodes will be geared toward that finale.
''We've all seen a million athletes where you say, 'I wish they didn't do those last two years,' '' said Mr. Seinfeld. ''For me, this is all about timing. My life is all about timing. As a comedian, my sense of timing is everything.''
The half-hour show revolves around four single, slightly neurotic and self-absorbed friends who negotiate the perils of love and life in New York City. The characters are Jerry Seinfeld, who plays himself as a stand-up comedian; Elaine Benes, his former girlfriend; George Costanza, his high-school buddy who has trouble keeping jobs, and Kramer, his eccentric neighbor.
Some media critics have said this year's episodes fell short of the show's highest standards, but Mr. Seinfeld maintained that he was not quitting because of those comments. ''We have been very proud of the quality of the work we've done this season,'' Mr. Seinfeld said.
''Seinfeld,'' now in its ninth season, remains the top-rated comedy in television this season, second only in overall rating to the NBC drama ''E.R.'' But for the past full year, counting the repeats, ''Seinfeld'' has been the most watched show ever. As reruns, the comedy is also the highest-rated syndicated series in television, and is expected to make almost $1 billion in syndication revenues.
Mr. Seinfeld's decision came after long and emotional discussions with his co-stars and production staff, and after intense negotiations with executives from NBC. Mr. Seinfeld's associates said the network offered a deal that would have been the richest in television history if Mr. Seinfeld had agreed to continue the show for just one more year.
''It was an extremely difficult thing to do. This show has been the greatest love affair of my life,'' Mr. Seinfeld said. ''But we were all together on it. We all felt we wanted to leave in love.''
One executive familiar with the negotiations, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Seinfeld was ''walking away from more money than has ever been offered before to a television star.''
The executive estimated that NBC, led in the negotiations by Robert C. Wright, the network's president, and John F. Welch, the chairman and chief executive of General Electric, NBC's parent company, had offered Mr. Seinfeld about $5 million an episode to stay in production. ''Seinfeld'' produces 22 episodes a season.
''They did everything humanly possible,'' Mr. Seinfeld said, ''but money was not a factor at all. I was not even looking for a raise.''
Some reports have set Mr. Seinfeld's salary at $1 million an episode, but the executive said Mr. Seinfeld was at that figure three years ago. Mr. Seinfeld also profits from the syndication of his series. Forbes magazine put his income for last year at $94 million.
But Mr. Seinfeld said his decision did not hinge on money. Instead, he wanted to follow the tradition of stand-up comedians and leave the stage with the audience wanting more.
His immediate career plans involve a return to his roots in stand-up comedy. Mr. Seinfeld had already agreed to perform a one-man comedy special for HBO next August. He is calling that special ''Laid to Rest,'' and he plans to use material from his stand-up comedy act one last time.
The circumstances of the negotiations between NBC and Mr. Seinfeld were unusual because the decision about whether to continue the series rested entirely with Mr. Seinfeld, who runs both the writing and production staff. He took over sole control of those functions after the 1996 season when his partner, Larry David, who had created the series with him, quit.
Other than Mr. Seinfeld, the rest of the show's ensemble -- Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine), Jason Alexander (George) and Michael Richards (Kramer) -- had already agreed to terms for another season after some acrimonious discussions last spring led to a settlement that is paying them each a record $600,000 for each episode this season.
The show's departure will force NBC to make difficult decisions. First, it must find a replacement for the show next fall. The network's next most highly regarded comedy is ''Frasier,'' but that show anchors Tuesday night and NBC would risk hurting that night by moving ''Frasier'' to Thursday.
Also, the network must decide what to do about the rest of its Thursday-night lineup. NBC has been unable to find a companion show to follow ''Seinfeld'' that had similar widespread appeal and acclaim. Industry executives have speculated that without ''Seinfeld'' on Thursday, NBC would be vulnerable.
The network also faces a costly renewal for ''E.R.,'' which is also on Thursday nights and has a contract that expires in May. And though NBC has been in the No. 1 position for three years, ratings for its regular shows have fallen about 10 percent this year. Without ''Seinfeld,'' the drop-off could worsen.
These are tough times for all the networks, which find it increasingly hard to create hit shows. But the other networks should all benefit from the absence of ''Seinfeld.''
The show began on July 5, 1989, as ''The Seinfeld Chronicles.'' Except for Elaine, all the show's characters were in place in that pilot, but Kramer, played by Michael Richards, was called Kessler in the first episode. Kramer was based on a real person with that name, but the name was not used until the show's producers could locate him and get permission to use his name. The next summer, the show aired six more times, and was scheduled to begin as a regular series in January of 1991, but was bumped off the air by the start of the Persian Gulf war. It finally got a regular time slot on Wednesday nights in the 1991-92 season and for the first half of the 1992-93 season, when it became a cult favorite.
In February 1993, when NBC was facing the loss of ''Cheers,'' it moved ''Seinfeld'' to 9:30 P.M. on Thursdays, after ''Cheers,'' and it became a runaway hit. The next season, it moved to 9 P.M. and has dominated that slot ever since.
An Article from The LA Times
Only a Few Shows Capture a Generation
TV: 'Seinfeld' has become pop culture touchstone, joining 'I Love Lucy,' 'Bonanza' and others in reflecting a decade.
December 27, 1997|CARLA HALL | TIMES STAFF WRITER
"Seinfeld" announces it's going off the air and it's front page news across the country. Viewers whine. Pundits weigh in. Even the Soup Nazi--a real-life restaurateur parodied on the show--is asked how he feels.
As star Jerry Seinfeld would say, What's the deal with that? It's a television show!
But Seinfeld's leave-taking is not just the disappearance of a half-hour sitcom. It's the departure of that rarest of television series--the ones that capture not merely an audience but a zeitgeist.
Every decade, a few shows manage to transcend mere cleverness and good ratings to become pop culture touchstones--and water-cooler talk. "Seinfeld" is not just the show that gave us Kramer's hair, George's conniving, Elaine's bad dancing and the Soup Nazi's dictates. It is also part of a tradition that stretches from "I Love Lucy" and "Bonanza" to "Dallas" and "Friends."
The show captured our obsessive-compulsive, selfish-yet-darkly-funny side--the perfect skewering of a '90s society freed of nuclear war worries, able to concentrate on whether our cafe lattes have low-fat or regular milk. But it was only the most recent televised skewering of American society.
"Seinfeld and those shows are therapeutic," said Ray Browne, founder of the department of popular culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Seinfeld wittily exposed our foibles, according to Browne. "If you repress it, you turn into a totalitarian society. If you bring it out, it's a kind of group psychology."
Television is never a perfect mirror of who we are, though. "It does not so much reflect but refract," said Michael Marsden, dean of the college of arts and sciences at Northern Michigan University and editor of the Journal of Popular Film and Television.
"What it shows is society's hope rather than society's reality. If you look at TV as a medium, it is trying to offer a coherence and meaning when life doesn't."
In the '50s, viewers found that kind of meaning in the housewifely antics of Lucille Ball on "I Love Lucy" and the uncompromising strength of "Gunsmoke's" Marshal Matt Dillon. As times changed, "Gunsmoke" changed too; the series, which ran from 1955 to 1975, evolved to include social issues, even race relations. (A Jewish rabbi went to live in the West in one episode, facing a largely Gentile population, Marsden noted.)
"Lucy," meanwhile, transcended time with comic brilliance. The show is still in re-runs, as each generation rediscovers it.
"It's very difficult to forget Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln--and Lucy," said Ray Browne. "Some people are monuments on Mt. Rushmore, and you simply cannot take them down. Even those who didn't care for the slapstick realized she was simply unequaled."
The '60s, on the other hand, reflected our worries about the traditional family. "The Ed Sullivan Show" may have been the last time an entire family could gather around one TV show--on a Sunday night no less--and all love it. "Bonanza," like "Gunsmoke," reinforced our love of the Western frontier myth.
"It always helps to look at the president," said Christian Williams, a veteran television producer who wrote for "Hill Street Blues" and created the hit syndicated show "Hercules."
"John Kennedy was a big strong man. Lyndon Johnson was a big strong man. You can see what people wanted.
"Big strong men are out of fashion now. Short, smart New Yorkers are more in fashion."
In the '70s, Archie Bunker put race on the table just as the society was doing that. "All in the Family" simultaneously shocked and amused us, liberating us to talk about race in a way that had never been done before a racially mixed public audience.
Most of these shows used family as their vehicle for exploring life. In the '70s, the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" was about making a family in the workplace. A plaque outside the sound stage where the show was filmed commemorates the labors of the family of actors and writers and producers who made the show.
"Dallas" fueled our '80s fascination with conspicuous wealth and power. Remember the summer we all obsessed about who shot J.R.? (That was also the summer that ushered in the era of TV season-ending cliffhangers.)
"The Cosby Show," on the other hand, showcased a sophisticated but cozy domesticity. If Archie Bunker put race on the table, the Cosby family took it off, refracting American life once again--this time from the perspective of the black middle class.
Meanwhile, "Miami Vice" portrayed yet another side of the '80s--a sensuality that was taking over fashion and music.
"When 'Miami Vice' was on the air, Miami defined the United States," said Christian Williams. "It was where we were going--which was V-neck T-shirts under sports jackets, $100 bills and sexy music. Well, we've been there, done that."
Some of the '90s shows reflect our cynicism with institutions, with family. Witness NBC's other current hit, "Friends." The characters wander from job to job, relationship to relationship, some of their real families split up or far away. "Institutions no longer love you, they'll fire you," Williams said. "I think they look at each other and say, 'Do I have any friends?' "
Just think of a line from the theme song: "When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month or even your year. . . . I'll be there for you."
Needless to say, television producers haven't a clue as to the proper formula for making a show that so galvanizes viewers it becomes more legend than program.
"We create shows, and nobody has any idea whether they will be adopted as true barometers of society that week," said Williams (who this past season was co-executive producer of a drama show, "C-16," that was just canceled.)
"Only in seeing these shows can people decide if they refect the barometric pressure of that week and time, but when they do, everybody knows it. The commonality has been discovered--something that is if not true then familiar. The phrase 'the ring of truth' is the Super Bowl ring of television."
Times staff writers Larry Gordon and Brian Lowry contributed to this story.
For clips of Seinfeld go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=seinfeld+tv+show
For more on Seinfeld go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seinfeld
For a Website dedicated to Seinfeld go to http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/
For Tim's TV Showcase go to http://timvp.com/tv/seinfeld/
For a Website dedicated to Seinfeld go to https://web.archive.org/web/20020202012145/http://www.cgocable.net:80/~dchristi/index2.html
For an article on Seinfeld go to https://tv.avclub.com/about-nothing-10-issue-tackling-seinfeld-episodes-1798270014
To rank all 169 Seinfeld episodes go to http://www.vulture.com/2015/06/every-seinfeld-episode-ranked.html
For some Seinfeld-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/seinfeld
For 2 Reviews of Seinfeld go to http://www.museum.tv/eotv/seinfeld.htm and http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/shows_se.htm#seinfeld
� Date: Fri August 3, 2018 � Filesize: 55.8kb, 334.4kb � Dimensions: 1536 x 1510 �
Keywords: The Cast of Seinfeld (Links Updated 8/2/18)