1. In The Merv Griffin Show, Kramer stumbles upon the set of the famous TV chat show in a dumpster and decides to assemble it in his apartment. According to the original script, the dumpster is located near the Cort Theater which isn’t mentioned in the final cut. The New York City auditorium was the home of the original Merv Griffin Show between the years 1969 and 1972. (The show actually went off the air in 1987.) In a later scene, with Jerry, Elaine and George on the set now put together in his living room, Kramer takes a brief snack break. After he burps, pay close attention to Jason Alexander. You can see him cracking up at Michael Richards’ antics. In another scene, while scolding Jerry for being too edgy, Kramer plays instrumental music on a tape recorder during “a break” from his “show”. Listen closely and you’ll hear the theme for Jerry, the failed NBC pilot that was the focus of season four.
2. In The Junk Mail, Jerry wants to buy a new car to replace the one Kramer ruined in The Blood episode. He wants a Saab but his old childhood friend, Fragile Frankie, sells him a van instead. Eventually, after being one of the witnesses of George’s parents’ spontanenous romp in that unwanted vehicle, he’s finally ready to get rid of it. (He hung on to it all episode long because he didn’t want to hurt his overly sensitive friend’s feelings.) In a deleted scene, we learn that the van was sold to Elaine’s boyfriend, the silly spokesman for The Wiz electronic stores. The crown-wearing fool has transformed it into The Wiz-Mobile and at one point, he gets out of his car and does that memorably ridiculous walk out on the street. Meanwhile, Elaine tries to dump him over the van’s loud speaker but he ignores her and rechristens her “Lady Wiz”.
3. In The Butter Shave, Jerry is alarmed by fellow comedian Kenny Bania riding his coattails to become a “time-slot hit”. To kill his momentum he decides to throw his set at an important showcase in front of NBC talent scouts so Bania won’t get the bump. After he tells George about his plan in his apartment, he says, “Then we’ll see how he does, up there, without all the assistance.”. This is the third and final Seinfeld reference to the infamous Buddy Rich tapes, a collection of secretly recorded rants from the reknowned drummer directed at his band while on their tour bus. (I actually learned this in a previous box set but decided to save it for this piece.) During a quick exterior shot of the club they’re both performing at, look closely at the poster. The club is called Catch A Rising Star which was a real New York City club where the real Jerry Seinfeld got his professional start. Larry David also performed there. By the way, the real club no longer exists.
4. What was George’s job title at Play Now? He was the Director of Irregular Spheres. Basically, he was in charge of “all kinds of footballs”. This was supposed to be mentioned in The Butter Shave episode.
5. Writer Spike Fierstein was having a hard time sleeping next to his then-girlfriend. He pretended to blame it on her imaginary “talking ass”. When he told the writing staff, it became an inside joke and for a month they all did variations on this fictional butt voice. While working on the script for The Voice, Jerry advised Fierstein to change the “talking ass” premise to a talking belly button. Seinfeld was worried that they were going for an easy laugh with a familiar bodily function. (I guess the farting horse from The Rye was more high-brow.) Curiously, today, he thinks they should’ve stuck with the “talking ass” all along. When Fierstein told his girlfriend about all this nonsense, she got legitimately upset and left him, just like Jerry’s girlfriend does in the episode. Because they didn’t have a second act for The Voice, Fierstein was advised to talk to her so they could get some new material to finish this particular show. During the entire production week, everybody had a lot of fun doing “the voice”. Unlike Jerry’s friends in the episode, no one grew tired of doing it.
6. In The Serenity Now, George’s ruse about being handicapped is fully exposed and everyone at Play Now wants him to leave. The bald man decides to stick around in order to get the full compensation of his one-year contract despite fierce company-wide resistance. This was based on a real story involving a writer friend of the episode’s writers, Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel. A guy they knew was hired to work for Bill Cosby. When a sought after writer that was wanted in the first place suddenly became available, Cosby’s company wanted him gone. Their stubborn writer friend refused to leave and kept on showing up. Realizing what needed to be done, Cosby’s people paid him what he was owed and he finally departed.
7. After Family Ties went off the air, NBC decided to do a spin-off with Mallory Keaton’s boyfriend. Entitled The Art Of Being Nick, only a pilot was shot. Julia-Louis Dreyfus and Richard Fancy, who played her Pendant Publishing boss, Mr. Lippman, on Seinfeld, co-starred with Scott Valentine, the aforementioned Nick. After Seinfeld went off the air, a spin-off was proposed for flamboyant lawyer Jackie Chiles. Despite “several attempts”, the series never happened.
8. The Finale inspired intense secrecy. After the initial table reading, all but one script was destroyed. The episode’s code name was “A Tough Nut To Crack” which was used in place of its actual title to throw off nosy parkers. During the studio audience taping, only close friends and family of the show’s staff were allowed to attend (although a young Saturday Night Live comedian named Jimmy Fallon managed to sneak in with a co-worker). Everybody who either read the script, appeared in the show, worked behind the scenes or saw anything being recorded had to sign non-disclosure documents forbidding them from blabbing about the episode’s plot to the public, and yes, that includes Fallon and his friend. Even a fake alternate ending was filmed where Jerry, Kramer, George and Elaine are found “not guilty” of violating the Good Samaritan Law. Unfortunately, as you may remember, the last episode of Seinfeld got terrible reviews and today, Larry David, who wrote the teleplay, regrets not leaking details beforehand. He should’ve regretted not writing funnier jokes.
9. There was enough material recorded for The Finale to fill three half-hour episodes. In the end, the full show runs 55 minutes, the longest episode in the show’s nine-year history.
10. More than half of the people watching TV on May 14, 1998 were checking out the last two episodes of Seinfeld on NBC.
11. The Betrayal was inspired by Harold Pinter’s play, Betrayal. Told in reverse chronological order, it’s about a man who has an affair with his best friend’s wife. By the way, for the first time ever, this famous backwards episode of Seinfeld can now be seen forwards minus any of the credits, time graphics and company logos used in the original cut.
12. James Spader is the first actor to win two Emmy Awards for playing the same role on two different shows. George’s nemesis in The Apology was Alan Shore on both The Practice and its spin-off, Boston Legal.
13. There’s a rather amusing background gag in The Dealership. In the episode, Jerry is looking to buy a new car. Because his former mechanic David Puddy is now a salesman and because he’s dating Elaine again, Jerry has been promised an “insider’s deal” on a potential purchase. Unfortunately, Elaine breaks up with him before this can happen and as a result, Puddy starts needlessly jacking up the bill. Desperate, the comedian calls Elaine to get her to take her “grease monkey” back. If you look closely, you can see Puddy staring off into space the entire time Jerry is on the phone.
14. The Finale originally ended with “The New York Four” in prison. But after seeing how the entire episode played out, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David felt this was too dour a conclusion. So, a few days after the final Seinfeld wrap party, the prison stand-up routine was written, taped and then thrown in during the end titles. The heckler who tells Jerry he sucks and threatens to cut him is Larry in one of his funniest voice cameos. The prison guard who cuts Jerry’s set short and escorts him off-stage is comedian Jon Hayman who is better known as the voice of The Bubble Boy.
15. In The Strongbox, we learn that Kramer is a military veteran. Michael Richards is also a veteran. He was drafted during the Vietnam era and served for two years.
16. Over the course of the entire series, Kramer entered Jerry’s apartment nearly 400 times.
17. The working title for The Strongbox was The Buzzer. The Reverse Peephole was originally called The Man Fur. The Frogger was going to be The Cake Parties. The Maid was first scripted as The Long-Distance Relationship. The Merv Griffin Show was first entitled The Merv Griffin Set. And The Voice’s rejected titles were The Backslide and The Bladder System.
18. The Puerto Rican Day was only aired once on NBC because of a phony controversy. There’s a scene where a reckless Kramer throws a firework in the back seat of Jerry’s car and it accidentally catches his Puerto Rican flag on fire. (Just a little earlier, the K-man was caught up in the spirit of the parade wrapping himself up in that very same flag.) In a panic, he quickly removes it from the vehicle and proceeds to stomp on it on the sidewalk in order to cease the burning. This infuriates a number of witnesses who foolishly go on to chase him down the street. Although they were only aware of the episode title, a small protest movement of the supposedly outraged began to mobilize nonetheless. Even before the show aired, Jerry Seinfeld had a meeting with one such group of concerned Puerto Ricans who wondered why they were so upset about this when they hadn’t seen the show. Their response, according to Jerry: “We assume that it’s offensive.” When the comedian performed his series of I’m Telling You For The Last Time concerts at the Bensonhurst Theatre later that summer, a small group of protesters organized across the street every night condemning him for doing this episode. At one point, security had to be increased because of death threats. After taping the last show, which became the famous HBO special, Jerry went out of the theatre and across the street to talk to the group about their concerns. There were no more protests after that. The Puerto Rican Day was barely seen in syndication until 2002 when it became more widely aired to zero controversy.
19. The four leads aside, Liz Sheridan is the only recurring cast member to make at least one episodic appearance a season in all nine years of the show.
20. In The Serenity Now, Mr. Lippman’s son starts making out with an alarmed Elaine at his bar mitzvah. He’s played by Ross Malinger who also played Tom Hanks’ son in Sleepless In Seattle. In The Slicer, George is having a difficult time getting a photo shop employee to airbrush him out of his boss’ 1989 beach photo correctly. The photo guy is played by Larry B. Scott who is probably best known as Lamar, the gay black guy in the Revenge Of The Nerds movies. In The Strongbox, George can’t convince his stubborn girlfriend that their relationship is kaput. Maura is played by Alex Kapp Horner who went on to play Lindsay, one of the snotty blonds who constantly get under Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ skin in The New Adventures Of Old Christine. In The Strike, Kramer goes back to work in a bagel place after the end of a work dispute that lasted more than a decade. His boss is played by longtime character actor Dave Florek, the brother of Dann Florek, the bald police chief on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. And in The Burning, a student doctor successfully guesses that the K-man is pretending to have gonorhhea. He’s played by Daniel Dae Kim who went on to play Jin Kwon on Lost.
21. Clint Eastwood was supposed to be Two-Face in the original Batman TV show but the program was cancelled before his episode was shot.
22. In The Strike, Jerry dates a woman who only looks good in certain lighting. Originally, Gwen the two-face was supposed to be played by two women. Suzanne Krull was going to be the ugly Gwen while Karen Fineman would be the pretty Gwen. In the end it was decided having the same role played by two different women would be really confusing for the audience so Fineman played both Gwens instead.
23. Jerry Seinfeld once did stand-up on the real Merv Griffin Show while his fly was down.
(Special thanks to Rob Kerr.)
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 19, 2013
UPDATE: I’ve added a couple of lines to number 18 which should’ve been included last night.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 19, 2013