30. The real Soup Nazi hated the episode he inspired. When Jerry Seinfeld, that show’s writer Spike Fierstein (who used to cower in fear as a Late Show With David Letterman writer when he went to order soup from him with his co-workers in Manhattan) and a few other staffers decided to go to the real guy’s restaurant one summer day, they were in for an uncomfortable experience. Although it took a few seconds for him to believe his eyes, upon fully recognizing him The Soup Nazi ultimately called Seinfeld “a fucking asshole” and said he ruined his life as he ripped him a new one in an epic rant that went on for several minutes. He also demanded an apology from Jerry who gave him the most sarcastic one imaginable.
31. In The Cadillac, we meet Elaine’s friend, Katy, who, to the delight of George, is friends with Oscar winner Marisa Tomei who just happens to have a thing for short, quirky, bald men like him. Katy is played by Annabelle Gurwith who may be familiar to TBS viewers. She hosted that station’s Dinner & A Movie. In The Friars Club, Kramer is baffled by his girlfriend Connie who prefers to stay at his apartment and not go outside with him. She’s played by Lisa Kushell who also hosted TBS’ Dinner & A Movie.
32. Four supporting players in The Rye all have one thing in common: Grace Zabriskie (Susan’s mom), Warren Frost (Susan’s dad), Frances Bay (Mrs. Choate, the cranky old lady who buys the last marble rye) and Don Amendolia (Dennis, the Hansom Cab driver who tells Kramer to take over his horse riding tour business while he’s away) all appeared on Twin Peaks. Also, Bay is the only actor to appear on the final episodes of Happy Days, Who’s The Boss? and, you guessed it, Seinfeld.
33. In The Doll, George is completely freaked out by a doll his fiance sleeps with that looks uncannily like his mom. In one scene, he arrives at Jerry’s apartment and declares, “I’m on no sleep, bro.”. Writer Bruce Kirschbaum used to say this all the time to make his fellow scribers feel very guilty for not working hard enough on their own scripts. Episode co-writer Tom Gammill recalls Kirschbaum walking in one time saying that and claiming that he had been up for 24 hours straight just to work on one line for Jerry.
34. In The Postponement, Elaine confesses her jealousy, regarding George’s engagement, to a Jewish leader in her building who goes on to reveal all her personal details to everyone he encounters including a fellow tenant she has a crush on. He even talks about her on his TV show. The character is named Rabbi Kirschbaum in honour of Bruce. He evolved out of a recurring sketch on Fridays, the ABC Saturday Night Live knock-off, where the real Kirschbaum and Larry David played rabbis with their own TV show, Live & Be Well. Bruce Mahler, who played Rabbi Kirschbaum on Seinfeld, also worked on Fridays along with Michael Richards and writer Larry Charles.
35. After getting kicked out of his own mail truck in The Bottle Deposit, Newman stumbles around a highway until he finds a farm house. The farmer is played by Rance Howard, Ron’s dad, who also played the blind guy George switches glasses with in the fifth season episode, The Glasses. The farmer warns Newman early on not to do anything untoward with his sexy daughter but neither of them listen. When they inevitably get caught fooling around, the farmer starts shooting at him as he flees from the house with Kramer who has just arrived on the property. (They were going to Michigan to collect $500 worth of empty bottles but get sidetracked by a mechanic that stole Jerry’s car who they end up following away from their original destination.) During the shoot, Wayne Knight suffered from heart palpitations and ended up seeing a doctor who told him to lose weight or he was going to get Type 2 Diabetes. Thankfully, he listened and ended up losing 100 pounds slowly over time. At the end of that scene, the farmer’s daughter yells out, “Goodbye, Norman. Goodbye!”. That was a mistake. Actress Karen Lynn Scott was supposed to say, “Goodbye, Newman.”. Everyone preferred her version so it stayed in the show.
36. In The Engagement, George turns down a trip to the movies with Jerry because his fiance Susan wants to see a different movie with him. Jerry ends up taking another friend to see Firestorm. You see them both coming out of the theatre raving about it. Jerry’s friend is real-life pal and fellow comedian Mario Joyner who later appears as an obnoxious driver in the season nine episode, The Puerto Rican Day.
37. In The Hot Tub, Jerry takes it upon himself to look after marathon runner Jean-Paul Jean-Paul because he doesn’t trust Elaine to do the job herself. While at a hotel, Jerry calls the front desk to set up a wake-up call for the morning of the NYC marathon. The voice on the other end of the line belongs to actor Zack Phifer who can actually be seen as the manager of The Andover Shop (he refuses to accept Jerry’s reason for returning that blazer with the crest he doesn’t like) in The Wig Master.
38. In The Wink, George is about to leave George Steinbrenner’s office as Big Stein rattles off all the different managers he’s fired over the years. By the time he gets to Buck Showalter, he stops himself and says, “You didn’t hear that from me!”. Three weeks after this episode aired for the first time (October 12, 1995), the real Steinbrenner fired the real Showalter on November 2nd. His replacement? Joe Torre.
39. From the very first episode of the first volume of DVDs, the Notes About Seinfeld bonus feature has kept track of the number of times Kramer has entered Jerry’s apartment. Curiously, during The Hot Tub episode, a very big mistake is made that throws off the official count. During a scene where the K-man simply opens his own apartment door, this erroneously becomes Kramer Entrance Counter #249. Up to that point in the series, previous moments like that did not go into the K.E.C. which makes this all the more baffling.
40. In The Soup Nazi, Elaine marvels at how much the tempermental title character resembles Al Pacino. She then proceeds to imitate Pacino’s famous line from his Oscar-winning performance in Scent Of A Woman (“Hoo-wah! Hoo-wah!”). Julia Louis-Dreyfus hadn’t seen that movie but thanks to some helpful advice from Jerry Seinfeld she was able to get the laugh regardless. At the time she was interviewed for this particular box set, she claims she still hasn’t seen it. (She should. It’s very good.) Spike Fierstein, who wrote this particular show, claims he saw a woman do the exact same thing to the real Soup Nazi when he worked for David Letterman’s CBS show.
41. In The Bottle Deposit, Kramer and Newman figure out a way to make $500 from recycling thousands of empty bottles and cans in Michigan. (They pay 10 cents for each rather than 5 cents in New York.) A free mail truck already loaded with gasoline (and needed to handle the huge flow of Mother’s Day mail) allows them to lower overall expenses and maximize their profits. Unfortunately, when the mechanic who steals Jerry’s car comes into view on an Ohio highway, their whole plan goes awry. Even if that didn’t happen, their scheme was doomed to fail anyway. Michigan forbids guys like them from recycling out-of-state empties in their state. If caught, they could’ve faced a three-month jail sentence and fines up to $500. Brad Garrett did them a favour.
42. Speaking of recycling, the show often reused second unit New York footage (inserted between acting sequences) throughout its entire run to save money. In The Calzone, after a scene with George and Steinbrenner in his boss’ office, there’s a quick shot of downtown New York. If you pause the scene at the right time pay particular notice to the movies playing on the marquee at United Artists Theatre on your left. The Calzone aired in early 1996 but Passenger 57, The Bodyguard and Malcolm X were all films in general theatrical release in the fall of 1992 which was the likely time that footage was taken.
43. In The Soup Nazi, Elaine’s antique armoire gets stolen on the street by a couple of gay men who are able to intimidate Kramer (who was supposed to guard it since she couldn’t bring it into her building that Sunday afternoon) into not stopping them. It always seemed strange that the K-man would not fight back but according to the original script, there was a very good reason for this. Bob, the Latino thug, was going to say, “Look, I’ve got a gun. I’ve got a knife. I’ve got weapons on my person. Is that what you’re interested in? Now just back off!” In a later scene, Kramer and Jerry spot the two thieves and attempt to confront them but they end up running away in a terrified panic. This was inspired by a real-life incident involving the episode’s writer, Spike Fierstein. He once made the mistake of confronting a mugger in Boston who proceeded to chase him all the way inside a local drugstore with a knife.
44. Director Andy Ackerman was very worried about a stunt involving Michael Richards and with good reason. In The Friars Club, his adulterous girlfriend Connie mistakenly (and it has to be said, absurdly) believes he’s dead so she calls someone, presumably a mafioso type, to help get rid of the body. Kramer is placed in a brown burlap sack and dumped into the Hudson River. Once he’s completely submerged, he suddenly awakens and forces his way out of the sack until he swims back up to the top. That part of the sequence was shot in a circular tank at Universal Studios. Ackerman was deeply concerned about something going wrong during the stunt so scuba divers were in the tank (off-camera, of course) ready to give Michael Richards oxygen just in case. Fortunately, the bit only required two takes. On take one, Richards didn’t sink fast enough so 40 pounds of weights were placed in the sack to expedite the dive into the water. On take two, Richards, a certified diver, was able to somehow escape the tight opening very quickly and swim up to the surface.
45. Liz Sheridan and Barney Martin, who played Helen & Morty Seinfeld, each appeared on 24 episodes of the show, the equivalent of one full season.
46. In The Doll, Frank Costanza thinks he’s found his long lost cousin, Carlo, in Italy thanks to a picture taken by Elaine’s boyfriend, The Maestro. When he later confronts him in Tuscany, though, he claims his name is Giuseppe and is unfriendly. If you look closely at the sign behind them (also seen in the photo) you’ll learn that Carlo or Giuseppe is an importer/exporter.
47. Believe it or not, if you take off your pants rather than sit on them before walking around in them you’ll really have a perfect crease. However, this isn’t “an old conductor’s trick” that The Maestro claims it is. Writers Max Pross and Tom Gammill witnessed old school entertainers walking around in their boxers while backstage at a Jerry Lewis telethon and found out the real reason why. Speaking of Lewis, he also provided the inspiration for the eighth season episode, The Soul Mate. In that episode, George thinks the people in his late fiance’s charitable foundation are talking smack about him when he’s not in the room so he secretly places a tape recorder in a briefcase he conveniently leaves behind so he can capture their real comments for later listening. According to Pross and Gammill, Lewis used to do the exact same thing.
48. In The Shower Head, Jerry is getting ready to do an appearance on The Tonight Show. While in his dressing room, he entertains his visiting parents, George and his parents. After Morty and Helen tell Frank and Estelle that there’s nothing available to rent in all of Del Boca Vista (because they don’t want them to move into their new condo neighbourhood), Jerry says, “Alright, I know this doesn’t seem like work to any of you [but] if you could perhaps conduct the psychopath convention down the hall [so] I could just get a little personal space.” Note Estelle Harris’ smiling reaction to Jerry’s rather funny ad-lib.
49. In The Pool Guy, there’s a continuity error involving Newman’s feet. After he cannonballs into the pool, we next see him and Jerry kneeling over the motionless pool guy on the deck, both dreading the idea of performing CPR on him. At first, Newman is wearing flip flops. But note how they suddenly disappear shortly thereafter.
50. The Invitations, of course, was the most notorious episode of the season. Larry David’s own mother even called him enraged over the death of Susan. Curiously, when she saw the same episode again later on in syndication, she called him to tell him “it was very funny”.
51. The real George Steinbrenner filmed three scenes for The Invitations. In the first one, he steps into George’s office and volunteers himself as Elaine’s date to the bald man’s wedding. (Elaine doesn’t want to sit alone at the singles’ table.) In order to get his way, he threatens to fire George if this doesn’t happen. Then, in two other scenes, Steinbrenner and Elaine have lunch together. At first, we only see the back of him like we normally do when extra Lee Bear appears on-screen (with Larry David always supplying his voice off-camera). Then, after they switch seats, Elaine starts to talk like Steinbrenner and gets into this rap about feeling more comfortable in bare feet than wearing shoes. Steinbrenner gets turned off, doesn’t want to go to George’s wedding with her and leaves the restaurant. Director Andy Ackerman thought the whole idea of the real Yankees owner appearing on the show was a mistake and would kill the mystique they had established with Bear and David. Fortunately, none of these scenes made the final cut (the show, as always, was too long but I suspect the absence of laughs in these scenes played a stronger role in that correct decision) and it was left to David himself to break the bad news to Steinbrenner over the phone.
52. The Invitations became a temporary casuality of the annoying post-9/11 environment. When mysterious envelopes that contained anthrax were mailed to specific targets in 2001, overreacting programmers pulled the episode for a time from syndication. It has since been put back in the rotation.
(Special thanks to Rob Kerr.)
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, April 1, 2013
CORRECTION: Regarding the second part of number 47, it was The Soul Mate, not The Foundation, that featured the Jerry Lewis-inspired storyline involving George secretly recording a foundation meeting to see if anyone was bad mouthing him. My apologies for the error. The text has been corrected.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, April 14, 2013