1. Elaine’s old high school rival, Sue Ellen Mischke, is the towering beauty who refuses to wear a bra under her top. We first meet her in The Caddy where she runs into Ms. Benes and invites her to her birthday party. Later on, during a conversation with George and Jerry, we learn why Elaine hates her. Back in high school, Sue Ellen once transfixed a guy she was flirting with at a party they all attended to the point where he walked away from her to follow “the braless wonder” instead. The guy’s name is Tom Cosley which was also the name of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ former high school boyfriend. They hadn’t spoken in years but when the episode aired he suddenly got in touch with her. Cosley is played by Jeff Bye, Seinfeld’s production coordinator who also warmed up the studio audiences during taping days in seasons eight and nine. Mischke is played by Brenda Strong who would go on to become the narrator of Desperate Housewives.
2. When co-creator Larry David announced he was leaving the show after the seventh season there was deep concern that the show would not continue without him. If season eight hadn’t happened, George was to marry Susan, which would end his close friendships with Jerry, Elaine and Kramer, and the newlyweds would live miserably ever after. Jerry alludes to this potential development, and the possibility of Susan getting pregnant, in The Invitations.
3. In The Engagement, there’s a subplot where Elaine can’t sleep because of a neighbour’s extremely noisy dog who just won’t stop barking outside at night. In one scene she opens up her window and screams at the dog to shut up. Julia Louis-Dreyfus screamed so hard while filming take after take (the shoot took place the day before the audience taping) that she didn’t have much of a voice left for the rest of the production week. That’s why she sounds so hoarse in most of the remaining scenes of this episode. (She wasn’t scripted to be, though.) As a result, her real-life laryingitis was understandably added to the script.
4. In The Postponement, there’s a scene where George and Jerry watch a guy refuse to go along with his redheaded lady friend’s unknown plans to go somewhere while they’re dining at Monk’s. The guy is so calm and defiant he not only keeps eating his sandwich normally he also asks his weepy friend if he can have her fries, too. The moment inspires George to try a second time to postpone his engagement to Susan, the former NBC page he hadn’t seen in years. Jason Alexander claims that this moment was inspired by a similiar incident he witnessed himself between a famous actor who was calm and indifferent while his famous actress girlfriend wept uncontrollably. Unfortunately, Alexander doesn’t name the celebrity couple or the nature of their dispute. He said he mentioned this to Larry David who may very well have used it as inspiration for this episode.
5. In The Wink, Jerry and Elaine are having dinner at her cousin Holly’s place. Jerry, who is dating Holly, is trying to appear less feminine after he only ordered a salad during their first date at a restaurant. (She ordered a steak.) As an increasingly annoyed Elaine prepares to leave, she quips to her cousin: “Thanks for mutton”, which was the food she was serving. That’s a slight ad-lib. Originally, she was scripted to say, “Thanks for the mutton”. Clearly, her version was stronger which is why it ended up in the final cut.
6. George’s complaint about Susan’s “Happy, pappy?” line was something actress Heidi Swedberg said to Larry David during real-life off-camera conversations.
7. In The Hot Tub, we meet Elaine’s next door neighbour, Judy, a single mom. She’s played by Susan Issacs who also played John Candy’s dead wife in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. We never meet her in that movie. We just see a picture of her that Candy’s character carries around with him on his travels. Speaking of that movie, it was released in 1987, the same year that the real John Peterman started his famous catalog.
8. We meet the flamboyant, mustachioed, bespectacled lawyer Jackie Chiles for the first time in The Maestro. He’s representing Kramer in his hot cafe latte lawsuit against Java World. Chiles, of course, was a parody of Johnnie Cochran who, besides successfully defending O.J. Simpson at his infamous criminal trial in the mid 90s, had also prosecuted Lenny Bruce in a 1964 obscenity case. Chiles is played by Phil Morris who actually knew the real Cochran because they went to the same barber when Morris was a kid and he closely followed the lawyer’s career for years. During production, Morris tried to experiment with the character’s voice which disappointed Jerry Seinfeld who wanted him to play the part the way he did during the audition. Morris, who made Jerry laugh so hard on the day of his try-out (after just reading a couple of lines, Jerry stopped him and had to turn on the air conditioning because he was sweating so much from all the laughing), helpfully obliged. The result is one of Seinfeld’s greatest supporting characters.
9. Morris is the son of actor Greg Morris who played Barney Collier on the original Mission: Impossible series. When the show was rebooted in the late 80s, Phil played Barney’s son, Grant.
10. George’s engagement to Susan was Larry David’s idea but he had no clue how to resolve the plot until very near the end of the season. Jerry Seinfeld suggested they kill her off. Writer Tom Gammill remembered an old story about someone actually dying from licking toxic envelopes at his mom’s workplace back in the 1940s and the rest is history.
11. That’s the voice of Russ Leatherman, the real Moviefone guy who goes to Kramer’s apartment to complain about stealing his business in The Pool Guy. The actor who knocks on the door, however, is an unidentified extra. Leatherman was only available to do the voice-over.
12. In that same episode, an irate George tries to find Jerry, Elaine and his fiance, Susan, at a local movie multiplex. Unfortunately, he picks the wrong auditorium. (He got the right multiplex, just not the right theatre.) Before he comes to this embarrassing realization, he makes reference to them all “laughing and lying”. Writer David Mandel, who penned this episode, had a friend whose ex-girlfriend drunkenly used that exact same phrase when she was yelling for him outside his apartment building one night. According to Mandel, whenever she sees this part of The Pool Guy she gets very pissed off.
13. Speaking of pissed off, the actual pool guy, Ramon, was originally supposed to be played by Danny Hock. Back in the 90s he had a one-man off-Broadway show where he did many different Latino accents. Unfortunately, upon being cast on Seinfeld, he objected to the idea of using any of them while playing the role. He found this demeaning and didn’t want to be a stereotypical character. To save face, he suggested doing a Russian accent instead. When that was rejected, the part was recast. Hock went on to hammer the show over his alleged “discrimination” in another one-man show.
14. The judge in The Caddy is played by Arthur Rosenberg which just happens to be the birth name of the late Tony Randall.
15. In The Sponge, Kramer refuses to wear a red ribbon while participating in the New York City AIDS Walk which causes a big controversy. This was inspired by the cast and crew’s many trips to the Emmy Awards when they would be asked to wear the same ribbon for the ceremonies. Writer Peter Mehlman recalls that none of them saw the need to do this (wearing a ribbon doesn’t cure the disease and everybody was already aware of it) and he took great pleasure in satirizing the whole idea in this particular episode. By the way, who was the first celebrity to wear the red ribbon in support of fighting AIDS? Jeremy Irons who wore his during the 1991 Tony Awards.
16. The Soup Nazi offers the following 11 soups from his menu: Mulligatawny, Crab Bisque, Turkey Chili, Jambalaya, Black Bean, Chicken Broccoli, Clam Bisque, Split Pea, French Onion, Mushroom Barley, and Tomato Rice, all of which you can select from the real Soup Nazi’s menu in his New York restaurant.
17. On disc two there’s a hidden 15-minute documentary about various cast members being recognized in unusual situations. (To find it, click Episodes, highlight Set Up, press the down button twice which highlights the antique button and press enter.) John O’Hurley recalls attending a friend’s 40th birthday party and being recognized at the buffet line. A man came up to him to say “Ooooo, that would be grounds for dismissal.”, one of his J. Peterman lines. During their conversation, O’Hurley learned that this guy was not only a fan of Seinfeld but a fan of the real J. Peterman catalogue, too. He would actually read the over-the-top item descriptions to his wife in bed. He thanked O’Hurley for finally giving him a voice to use for the catalog readings. Who was this man? None other than Tom Hanks.
18. The fake J. Peterman’s first name is Jacopo which was taken from the name of a pizza joint writers Alec Berg and Jeff Schaeffer used to order from all the time.
19. During the summer, the real Jerry Seinfeld and some of the writing staff would go outside to hit baseballs in the CBS Radford Studios parking lot while in preproduction. There weren’t many cars in the lot at the time so it wasn’t a big deal. But one day, a ball crashed through the window of one such parked car. Seinfeld found out that the car belonged to Alexandra Wentworth who was later cast as Sheila, AKA “Schmoopie”, in The Soup Nazi. Jerry generously paid for the damages.
20. Larry Thomas, who played the tempermental Soup Nazi, based his performance on Omar Sharif’s work in Lawrence Of Arabia.
21. At the end of that episode, a frantic Newman tells Jerry about Elaine’s confrontation with The Soup Nazi and how he’s giving away the rest of his soup for free since she’s threatening to publish all those recipes she found in the armoire he didn’t realize he had given her. At one point, Newman mentions that he’s moving to Argentina. This is a very sly reference to World War II history. Then-Argentinian President Juan Peron (Evita’s husband) urged surviving members of Germany’s Nazi Party to come to his country where he would protect them.
22. In The Caddy, there’s a scene where Jerry is talking to George in his apartment while flipping through his magazines. Look very closely (and quickly) and you’ll notice a young Tiger Woods on the cover of the December 1995 issue of Golf World. In The Cadillac, Kramer is reading a magazine when he gets a phone call from his nemesis, Nick the cable guy, who fails to disguise his voice. Just before he picks up his phone, notice how he conveniently turns the page to an article about Jerry Seinfeld. (You can see a picture of him wearing a red clown nose.) Kramer is reading Entertainment Weekly’s Best Of 1995 year-in-review issue. In that special edition, Seinfeld was named one of EW’s Entertainers Of The Year, hence the article.
23. In The Sponge, Elaine needs to conserve her case of contraceptive sponges since her particular brand, Today, has been taken off the market. She interviews a potential lover named Billy to make sure he’s “spongeworthy”. He’s played by Scott Patterson who’s best known for his many appearances as Luke, the guy who always wears his baseball cap backwards, owns a diner and has a major thing for Lauren Graham’s Lorelei on Gilmore Girls. In that same episode, there’s a scene where Kramer signs up for the NYC AIDS Walk event. The organizer accosting him for not wearing the red ribbon is played by Ileen Getz who also played the bespectacled, deadpan Judith Draper on 3rd Rock From The Sun. Sadly, she died of cancer in 2005.
24. In The Secret Code, J. Peterman’s mom dies after repeatedly saying George’s bank machine password, Bosco. She’s played by Ellen Albertini Dow who also played the rappin’ granny in The Wedding Singer. In that same show, Jerry gets an endorsement deal from a one-legged man named Leapin’ Larry. The appliance salesman is played by Lewis Arquette, the father of Alexis, David, Rosanna and Patricia. In The Caddy, Kramer follows every piece of advice he’s given by the title character. Stan The Caddy is played by Armin Shimmerman who is best known as Quark, the always scheming ferengi from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In The Soup Nazi, some fool tries to order gazpacho in Spanish from the none-too-pleased title character. The patron is played by Buddy Quaid, half-brother of Randy and Dennis.
25. In The Friar’s Club, Rob Schneider conveniently avoids accepting a big writing assignment from J. Peterman by saying he can’t hear anything he’s saying even though he’s wearing a hearing aid. He even fiddles with it once the work is dumped on Elaine. Writer David Mandel was fascinated by a fellow high school classmate who did the exact same things to allegedly avoid answering difficult questions from his teachers.
26. In The Wig Master, Elaine starts dating a ponytailed salesman who aggravates Jerry. He’s played by British actor Harry Van Gorkum who came very close to playing Doctor Who in a 1996 Fox TV revival. At the dirt cheap Jiffy Park parking lot George approaches a very sexy prostitute to find out what’s going on with his car. The Juliette Lewis lookalike who plays her is Gina Mastrogiacomo who died of a rare heart infection before her 40th birthday in 2001. She also played Ray Liotta’s mistress in Goodfellas.
27. Writer Alec Berg had a mad crush on actress Danette Tays who plays Jerry’s blonde girlfriend in The Calzone. After a two-hour phone conversation, Berg convinced Tays to go to the Oscars with him. (He was writing jokes for the ceremony one year.) Unfortunately, when he went to pick her up he found out she had a boyfriend, a photographer who wasn’t too thrilled to see him. Tays neglected to tell him about this on the phone. The incident inspired a storyline in the season eight finale, The Summer Of George.
28. The intercom from Jerry’s apartment was stolen after the show went off the air. Thankfully, surveillance footage revealed who the perpetrators were and Jerry got it back once the crooks were tracked down. When he confronted them, he found out they were writers and warned them that he was going to “duck walk” them out of show business. He wasn’t serious. He still has the intercom (along with TV-Jerry’s blue replacement couch, two blue stools and the toaster) to this day.
29. The “Jon Voight” car, a 1983 Chrysler LeBaron George drives, meets its end in The Gum. When the slow-witted bald man stops by his parents house to deliver Christmas presents while they’re away, he runs into their neighbour, Mr. Azzari, who proceeds to tinker under the hood. Eventually, it burns up on the streets of Manhattan. Once again, that’s the real car that writer Tom Gammill bought wrongly thinking it belonged to the Midnight Cowboy star. In real life, the car met a similiar fate when Gammill was en route to a table read. Stuck on the highway the ignition wouldn’t work and because of a bad oil change the front of the car caught on fire. (You can even see the real damage in some scenes.) After he finally arrived, he told the story which inspired this portion of The Gum.
(Special thanks to Rob Kerr.)
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, April 1, 2013
CORRECTION: Jeff Schaffer was not the writer who had an ill-fated romance with actress Danette Tays as originally mentioned in number 27. It was actually his writing partner, Alec Berg. The right name replaces the wrong one. My apologies for the mistake.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, April 14, 2013