MetroFocus: September 24th: Seinfeldia Special

It was a sitcom that started off in 1989 as a self-proclaimed show about nothing. Fast forward nine years and many successful seasons later, and Seinfeld aired its final episode to an audience of more than 76 million viewers. In 2016, it still remains as a recognizable facet of American culture, with fan-favorite episodes and relevant quotes that are still a part of our mainstream lives. A new book Seinfeldia celebrates creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, bringing fans behind the scenes of the show that became an American television phenomenon. T.V. historian, entertainment writer, and author of Seinfeldia, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong joins us to discuss how this show went from humble, comedic beginnings to a television series with a lasting impact.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' THE ULTIMATE TV SHOW ABOUT LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY, SEINFELD, AND MOMENTS, A LOOK OF THE SHOW ABOUT NOTHING THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING.

FIND OUT WHY NEARLY 40 MILLION VIEWERS WERE TEAMING IN WEEKLY AND YADA, YADA, YADA.

ALL THAT AND MORE AS METROFOCUS STARTS RIGHT NOW.

Announcer: THIS IS METROFOCUS, WITH RAPHAEL PEROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLEMMING AND FUNDING WAS PROVIDED BY --

> DO YOU WANT BREAD?

YES, PLEASE.

$3.

NO SOUP FOR YOU.

SAY IT TODAY AND EVERYONE WILL KNOW IT'S FROM SEINFELD, ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR SITCOMS OF ALL TIME.

A SHOW ABOUT THE MINUTA OF LIFE RAN FOR NINE SEASONS AND HAD AN ASTOUNDING 76 MILLION PEOPLE WATCH ITS EPISODE AND THAT SHOW ABOUT NOTHING IS A PART OF OUR LEXICON AND CULTURE.

FROM LANES YOU CAN SPARE A SQUARE TO YADA, YADA, YADA, JERRY'S PUPPY'S SHIRT, ELAINE'S DANCE MOVING AND BEING THE MASTER OF YOUR DOMAIN, NOT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

ALL OF THOSE PART OF OUR EXISTENCE IN A NEW BOOK CALLED SEINFELDIA, AND WHY THE SHOW STILL FEELS SO FRESH AND ENJOYABLE TO ALL OF US.

SEINFELDIA AUTHOR, TV HISTORIAN, AND ENTERTAINMENT WRITER, JENNIFER WILL JOIN US NOW.

THIS IS WHAT'S GREAT ABOUT THIS JOB AND THIS SHOW TO SIT DOWN AND TALK TO SOMEBODY LIKE YOU ABOUT THIS.

SO FIRST QUESTION WERE YOU A FAN WHEN THE SHOW WAS ON THE AIR?

I WAS, THOUGH I -- EVERY TIME SOMEONE ASKS ME THAT, IT'S ALMOST WEIRD FOR ME TO THINK FAN-WISE, SIMPLY BECAUSE IT WAS JUST WHAT YOU DID.

NO ONE SAID -- WOKE UP ONE DAY AND WENT, OH, I'M GOING TO BE COME A SEINFELD FAN TODAY.

IT JUST WAS PART OF THE NIGHT -- BEING ALIVE IN THE '90s.

THAT'S A GOOD WAY TO PUT IT.

YOU HAD TO WATCH.

EVERYBODY WAS GOING TO TALK ABOUT IT THE NEXT DAY.

76 MILLION PEOPLE WATCHED THE FINALE.

THAT'S GETTING AWFULLY CLOSE TO SUPER BOWL NUMBERS -- EARLIER SUPER BOWL NUMBERS.

YEP.

AND IF YOU CAN GET 20 MILLION VIEWERS, YOU'RE A HUGE HIT ON TELEVISION, 76 MILLION WATCHED THAT FINAL EPISODE.

LET ME ASK ABOUT THE TITLE,

IT'S MY MADE-UP WORD OBVIOUSLY, BETWEEN REALITY AND FICTION, WHERE SEINFELD IS ON, AND ON, AND ON.

WE JUST WATCHED A CLIP OF THE SOUP NAZI.

GREAT EPISODE.

EVERYONE STILL TALKS ABOUT IT AS YOU MENTIONED IN YOUR INTRODUCTION AND HE'S ONE OF THE GREATEST EXAMPLES TO ME OF SEINFELDIA.

THE ACTOR WHO PLAYS HIM, LARRY THOMAS, STILL MAKES APPEARANCES AS A SOUP NAZI.

THAT WHITE SORT OF KITCHEN SMOCK.

HAS TO KEEP HIS MUSTACHE IN TOP FORM AND GOES AROUND SAYING NO SOUP FOR YOU.

HE'S THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE ORIGINAL SOUP MAN, WHICH IS THE ACTUAL GUY THAT THIS CHARACTER WAS BASED ON SO YOU CAN SEE WHERE THERE'S REALITY, FICTION, REALITY FICTION, WHERE IT JUST LIVES ON, AND ON.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

WE CAN LOOK IN THE PAST TO SOME MARVELOUS SITCOMS.

I REMEMBER 'M.A.S.H.,' WHICH I STILL WATCH PERIODICALLY, AND IT'S STILL A GREAT SITCOM, BUT WHEN IT ENDED, IT DOESN'T SEEM AS IF IT HAD THE SAME CONTINUATION THAT YOU'VE SEEN WITH SEINFELD.

WHAT -- WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT SEINFELD CONTINUES TO EXIST SO VIBRANTLY FOR SO MANY OF US?

WELL, I THINK IT IS PARTLY WHAT I WAS JUST TALKING ABOUT, BUT THAT WOULDN'T -- THAT PHENOMENON, THAT WOULD NOT EXIST IF IT WERE PEOPLE WANTING IT, TO RIGHT?

SO I THINK IT'S THAT -- IT DEALS WITH THE EVERYDAY IRRITATIONS OF LIFE AND EVEN IF SOME OF THOSE IRRITATIONS HAVE CHANGED OVER TIME, PEOPLE LOVE TO TALK ABOUT HOW THE MOVIE THEATER EPISODE WHERE THEY'RE ALL TRYING TO FIND EACH OTHER WOULD BE SOLVED IN 30 SECONDS WITH A CELL PHONE, BUT THE UNDERLINING FEELING IN THAT EPISODE AND SO MANY OTHERS, LIFE IS STILL REALLY IRRITATING AND THAT I THINK IS WHAT KEEPS IT ALIVE.

WE LOVE SORT OF DRAMATIZING OUR LIVES ARE A CONTINUOUS SERIES OF MINOR IRRITATIONS THAT FEEL PRETTY MAJOR TO US AT THE TIME.

YOU MENTIONED THE SOUP NAZI AND HOW THESE CHARACTERS HAVE CONTINUED -- NOT JUST TO SURVIVE, BUT IN SOME WAYS TO THRIVE, I WAS SAYING TO SOMEBODY PREVIOUSLY THAT HI WORKED ON A SHOW WITH ALI WENTWORTH, AND THIS WAS YEARS AFTER THE SHOW HAD ENDED AND WE'D BE OUT DOING PUBLICITY FOR OUR SHOW AND PEOPLE ARE YELLING SHMOOPY TO HER, WHEREVER WE WERE GOING.

I JUST FOUND IT FASCINATING.

I'M IN THE NEWS BUSINESS.

RIGHT.

TO SEE THAT AND -- AND SHE, BY THE WAY, IS A FABULOUS PERSON.

WONDERFUL, VERY FUNNY, COMEDIAN, GREAT ACTRESS AND SHE WAS -- ALWAYS FOUND IT INTERESTING, TOO THAT CHARACTER COULD CONTINUE FOR SO LONG.

YEAH, I DON'T THINK ANYONE WHO DID THESE THINGS EXPECTED IT.

I KNOW THAT LARRY THOMAS FELT THAT WAY.

YOU KNOW HE DID NOT EXPECT TO BE PLAYING A CHARACTER IN ONE EPISODE 20 YEARS LATER, YOU KNOW, BUT HE'S VERY GOOD NATURED ABOUT IT AND I THINK YOU HIT UPON SOMETHING ELSE THAT'S REALLY BIG WITH US SHOW, WHICH IS OF COURSE THE CATCH PHRASES, LIKE SHMOOPY, AND SHMOOPY IS IN THE SOUP NAZI EPISODE.

THAT'S RIGHT.

THEY'RE MAKING UP THE LINE AS PART OF IT, TOO, AND I THINK THAT SEINFELD GIVES US THESE PHRASES TO USE IN OUR LIVES IN WAYS THAT WE NEED IT AS IT TURNS OUT.

I JUST GOT BACK FROM SWIMMING IN THE POOL, AND THE WATER WAS COLD.

YOU MEAN SHRINKAGE.

YES.

WE DIDN'T HAVE A WORD FOR SHRINKAGE BEFORE.

MASTER OF MY DOMAIN.

NOW IT'S WOVEN INTO CONVERSATION.

NOW YOU CAN DO THAT AND EVERYBODY LAUGHS WITHOUT YOU USING DIRTY WORDS, BUT EVEN NON-DIRTY THINGS LIKE YOU CAN SPARE A SQUARE.

THREE SQUARES?

YOU CAN'T SPARE THREE SQUARES?

NO, I DON'T HAVE A SPARE TO SQUARE.

I DON'T HAVE A SPARE TO SQUARE.

WE'VE BEEN IN ALL OF THESE SITUATIONS AND THOSE PHRASES ALLOW US TO TALK AND LAUGH ABOUT THEM TOGETHER IN A WAY THAT WOULDN'T COULDN'T.

THERE WASN'T A WORD FOR WHEN YOU NEED TO BORROW TOILET PAPER FROM YOUR -- YOU KNOW, PERSON IN THE NEXT STALL.

THIS WAY, YOU COULD JUST HAVE THIS ONE CUTE PHRASE THAT MAKES YOU LAUGH AT IT AND EVERYBODY GETS RIGHT AWAY, AND I THINK THAT'S A HUGE PART OF ITS SUCCESS.

THE BOOK AS I SAID, IT'S JUST A WONDERFUL READ.

SO MANY GREAT STORIES, ABOUT HOW IT GOT STARTED, JOE SEINFELD AND LARRY DAVID, BUT I THINK IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT WHEN WE LOOK BACK AT IT AT TODAY'S TELEVISION ENVIRONMENT, AND AS SUCCESSFUL AS THIS WAS, 76 MILLION PEOPLE AT THE END, IN THE VERY BEGINNING THERE AREN'T MANY SUGGESTIONS THIS WAS GOING TO BE SOME QUESTIONS.

AND THERE WERE SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CONTINUING OF THE SEASON?

IT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO AT ALL.

IT WAS ONE OF THOSE SHOWS THEY WERE DUMPING IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER IN JULY OF 1989, AND JULY 5th, NOT GREAT NEWS.

IT'S A SPECIAL, WHICH WAS ONE TIME ONLY, AND THE GOOD NEWS WAS THERE WAS ONE EXECUTIVE WHO LIVE TODAY JUST ENOUGH TO TRY TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO KEEP IT AROUND, AND HIS NAME IS RICK LUDWIN, HE WAS IN CHARGE OF LATE-NIGHT SPECIALS AND RECRUITED JERRY SEINFELD AND WANTED TO GET RID OF ONE BOB HOPE SPECIAL THE FOLLOWING YEAR FROM HIS BUDGET, WHICH WOULD BE HOURS OF SEINFELD, WHICH IS WHY IT HAS THIS STRANGE ONE EPISODE, THEN FOUR EPISODES.

THEY PUT IT ON IN SUMMER AGAIN WITH THESE FOUR LITTLE EPISODES AND THAT'S WHERE IT STARTED TO BUILD SOME HOPE FOR A CHEERS RUN THAT RAN RIGHT BEFORE IT.

AND CHEERS WAS THE THING.

CHEERS WAS THE STOP ECHELON.

THEY WERE ADDING TO THAT.

PEOPLE WERE STICKING AROUND.

THIS WAS EXTREMELY BIG BACK IN THE DAY BEFORE DVRs.

THEY WERE ALWAYS LOOKING WHAT YOU DID WITH THE AUDIENCE THAT KIND OF WAS YOUR LEAD-IN AND THEY WERE ALSO, AT THE TIME, ALREADY AWARE THAT CHEERS WAS, YOU KNOW, IN ITS FINAL YEARS AND THEY NEEDED A NEW CHEERS AND THEY WERE SCARED.

SO, THIS INDICATED MAYBE THEY -- SOMEHOW IN THIS THING THAT WASN'T DUMPY, THE YEAR BEFORE, MIGHT BE THE NEW CHEERS.

IT TURNED OUT TO BE TRUE, WHICH IS CRAZY.

AND IT'S FASCINATING -- AND I'VE HEARD JERRY SEINFELD TALK ABOUT THIS, IN THE CURRENT ENVIRONMENT, TELEVISION ENTERTAINMENT ENVIRONMENT, I'VE HEARD HIM SAY THEY PROBABLY WOULDN'T HAVE SUCCEEDED BECAUSE THERE'S NOT A LOT OF PATIENCE ANYMORE WITH TELEVISION PROGRAMMERS PUTTING ON A SHOW TO DO ONE AND THEN FOUR AND THEN LET'S EXTEND IT TO THE NEXT SEASON, ISN'T THAT INTERESTING THAT SEINFELD AND SEINFELDIA MIGHT NEVER HAVE EXISTED IN TODAY'S ERA.

IT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE AND IF YOU LOOK AT THOSE EARLY EPISODES, YOU'LL SEE THEY'RE NOT QUITE THE SEINFELD THAT WE DID.

THEY WERE DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING.

THEY WERE FINDING IT, WHICH I LOVE AS KIND OF A TV NERD, YOU CAN SEE THEM FIGURE OUT THE SHOW IN FRONT OF YOU AND STUMBLE UPON INSIGHTS AND THEN BECOME THIS THING THAT WE KNOW AS ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT SHOWS OF ALL TIME.

BUT WE NEVER WOULD HAVE GOTTEN THAT IF IT WEREN'T FOR THOSE EXECUTIVES TAKING CONTINUOUS CHANCES ON IT.

WHY DO YOU THINK WE HAVE SUCH AN AFFINITY FOR THESE -- ESPECIALLY THE MAIN CHARACTERS, THE FOUR MAIN CHARACTERS?

I MEAN, THEY'RE ODD, THEY'RE -- THEY'RE ANNOYING.

SOME TIMES THEY'RE OBNOXIOUS.

SOME OF THOSE THINGS WOULD BE A RECIPE FOR EMBRACING THEM AS LONG AS WE HAVE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WAS ABOUT THEM?

I THINK THOSE QUALITIES, ACTUALLY.

I THINK IT HAD TO BE, EVEN IF WE DIDN'T REALIZE IT.

THEY WERE ACTING OUT A LOT OF THE THINGS WE WISH WE COULD DO, WE WISH WE COULD SAY, ESPECIALLY GEORGE COSTANZA, I THINK.

HE WAS KIND OF SAYING THE THINGS WE WISH WE COULD AND SAYING THE THINGS WE THOUGHT, AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT DOES REALLY WELL IN TV CHARACTERS SO EVERY COUPLE DECADES WE REDISCOVER THIS IDEA THAT YOU KNOW LESS THAN PERFECT PEOPLE ARE WAY MORE INTERESTING TO WATCH THAN BEAUTIFUL, PERFECT PEOPLE.

HOW ABOUT ELAINE'S CHARACTER?

HOW DID THAT EVOLVE?

WHEN THEY BROUGHT SEINFELD BACK FOR THOSE FOUR EPISODES, THEIR ONE DEMAND AT NBC WAS YOU HAVE TO ADD A WOMAN, AND I THINK THAT WAS WISE.

IT'S EASY TO SAY NOW BECAUSE SHE BECAME SUCH A GREAT CHARACTER, BUT YOU CAN FEEL HER ABSENCE, HAD A BUNCH OF GUYS HANGING AROUND, HAD TO ADD A WOMAN AND THEY DID AND THEY KIND OF WERE JUST MAKING HER UP AS THEY DID KIND OF LIKE ALL THE OTHER CHARACTERS.

SHE WAS LOOSELY BASED ON ONE OF LARRY DAVID'S EX-GIRLFRIENDS WHO BECAME ONE OF HIS FRIENDS AND HE WAS OBSESSED WITH THIS FACT.

LIKE HOW COULD THEY STAY FRIENDS, AND THIS WAS THE DYNAMIC THAT HE WANTED TO SHOW AND SHE IN FACT HAPPENED TO BE MONICA YATES, THE NOVELIST, RICHARD YATES' DAUGHTER, WHICH COMES UP IN ONE OF THE EPISODES WHERE HER FATHER, WHERE ELAINE'S FATHER COMES ON.

BUT SHE KIND OF EVOLVED AND ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT HER IS HOW LIBERATED SHE WAS FOR THE TIME -- FOR ANY TIME, HONESTLY, FOR TV -- AND WHEN I ASKED THE WRITERS ABOUT THIS WHO WAS MOSTLY MEN, THEY SAID, YOU KNOW, WE DIDN'T TREAT HER ANY DIFFERENTLY.

WE GAVE HER STORY LINES FROM OUR LIVES JUST LIKE WE GAVE THE OTHER THREE CHARACTERS STORY LINES FROM OUR LIVES AND THAT SEEMED LIKE IT CAME DOWN FROM LARRY DAVID, LIKE DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT, SHE DOESN'T HAVE TO BE A SPECIAL ALIEN FEMALE CHARACTER, YOU KNOW, JUST WRITE HER LIKE A PERSON AND SHE TURNS INTO ONE OF THE GREATEST FEMALE CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME.

YOU MENTIONED SOMETHING I WANT TO COME BACK TO AND THAT IS THE IDEA OF STORY LINES COMING FROM REAL-LIFE SITUATIONS.

YES.

ALMOST SO MUCH SO THAT -- THAT IF IT WASN'T A REAL-LIFE SITUATION IT WASN'T GOING TO MAKE IT INTO THE SHOW.

IT WAS KIND OF A RULE.

I'M SURE THEY MUST HAVE BROKEN IT AT SOME POINT, BUT WHEN THEY PITCHED THINGS THIS WAS A HUGE PART OF IT, LARRY DAVID AND SEINFELD WOULD ASK THEM WHERE IT CAME FROM AS PART OF THE PITCH, BECAUSE THEY REALLY WANTED THAT FEELING THAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT OF, LIKE, BEING ABLE TO RELATE TO SOMETHING.

IF IT HAPPENED IN REAL LIFE TO SOMEONE, THEY FELT LIKE THAT WAS A GOOD STARTING POINT.

OF COURSE THE WAY IT ENDS UP IS NOT ALWAYS LIKE REAL LIFE.

THEY GO CRAZY AND EXAGGERATE AND WANTED TO START WITH THE TINY, EVERYDAY PROBLEMS AND THAT'S PART OF THE SUCCESS.

PEOPLE OFTEN SAY THE GREAT RECIPES FOR HUMOR OR DRAMA ARE NUGGETS OF REAL-LIFE-ISM, IF YOU WILL, SOMEONE TO BUILD ON FROM.

I DON'T WANT TO GIVE YOU'VE TOO MANY OF THE STORIES HERE -- BY THE WAY AND SOME GREAT PHOTOGRAPHS HERE, BUT I LOVE THE VERY BEGINNING WHERE YOU'RE SORT OF DANCE EVENT AT A MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL EVENT, BASICALLY SELLS THE PLACE OUT.

AND IT WAS LIKE OKAY, I KNEW THERE WAS A LOT OF ATTENTION TO THAT -- REMEMBER THE DANCE SEGMENT AND THAT AWKWARDNESS.

THE FACT TODAY THEY'RE STILL USING THAT AS A SPRING BOARD FOR EVENTS AT BASEBALL GAMES.

YEAH, I MEAN IT'S ONE OF THE BIGGEST THINGS TO COME OUT BESIDES NO SUPER YOU OR ANYTHING.

I DID A LITTLE VIDEO AT ONE OF MY EVENTS WHERE I HAD PEOPLE JUST SORT OF REENACT THEIR FAVORITE SCENES AND EPISODES AND STUFF LIKE THAT.

AND THAT CAME OUT.

PEOPLE WILL DO IT, BUT IT IS A REMEMBER AND IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS.

WE'RE ALL KIND OF SCARED IF WE DANCED THAT WE'RE A TERRIBLE DANCER SECRETLY AND NO ONE'S TELLING US AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS TO HER, IN THIS EPISODE AND YOU'RE A TERRIBLE DANCER AND YOUR ENTIRE STAFF TURNS AGAINST YOU AT WORK AND THEY HATE YOU.

YOU TALK IN THE BOOK ABOUT THE IDEA THAT -- THAT ALL OF THESE STORIES ESSENTIALLY BLURRED THE LINES BETWEEN FICTION AND REACTION AND THAT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST TIMES WE'VE SEEN THAT SITCOM USE THAT SORT OF RECIPE.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT WAS SO INSTRUMENTAL IN MAKING IT SUCH A SUCCESS?

I THINK IT'S PARTLY BECAUSE PEOPLE CAN FEEL LIKE IT'S REALLY.

WE ALWAYS WANT IT TO BE REAL EVEN THOUGH WE KNOW -- OBVIOUSLY WE KNOW IT'S PRETEND.

WE'RE NOT STUPID BUT THERE'S SOMETHING WHERE WE ALWAYS.

TO FEEL AS IF IT'S REAL AS IT KEEP INTERACTING WITH IT BECAUSE IT'S REAL.

SO SOMETHING LIKE THE JAY PETERMAN CATALOG, WHICH IS REAL BY THE WAY, I HAVE FOUND PEOPLE ONLINE STILL NOT REALIZING THEY THINK IT'S AN ELABORATE PARITY SITE OF SEINFELD OF JAY PETER MAN, THAT EXISTED BEFORE SEINFELD.

THEY CAN GO BUY JAY PETERMAN STUFF, AND FEEL LIKE THEY PART OF THE SEINFELD WORK.

KENNY KRAMER, THE REAL-LIFE FACE OF THE CHARACTER, KRAMER.

IT IS A REAL LIFE TOUR OF NEW YORK CITY SITES FROM THE SHOW.

THEY CAN VISIT THE DELI WHERE -- YOU KNOW THAT SERVED AS THE EXTERIOR OF THE RESTAURANT THEY WENT TO.

THEY CAN GET SOUP FROM THE SOUP FEEL LIKE THEY'RE A LITTLE BIT CLOSER TO IT AND COMMUNE WITH OTHER FANS, AS WELL.

LOOKING AT THE LIVES AFTER SEINFELD AND YOU ALWAYS WONDER ABOUT THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE, DOES IT CARRY A DOWNSIDE WITH IT, IN TERMS OF WHAT DO YOU DO NEXT?

YEAH, I THINK IT DOES.

IT'S NOT JUST SEINFELD.

PEOPLE LOVE TO TALK ABOUT THE SEINFELD CURSE AND IT'S MORE LIKE A SUCCESS OF THE SITCOM CURSE THAN ANYTHING ELSE.

I'VE WRITTEN ENOUGH ABOUT SITCOMS.

I WROTE A PIECE ON THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW.

A GREAT SHOW IN FOLLOWING WHAT I LEARNED NOT JUST THE ACTORS, BUT THE CREATORS, AND EVERYBODY.

IT'S REALLY TOUGH TO MAKE ONE GOOD SITCOM.

TO MAKE MULTIPLES, THE ODDS ARE ASTRONOMICALLY AGAINST YOU.

NOT THERE, IT'S LIKE WINNING THE LOTTERY TWICE.

THE OTHER THING IS, ON TOP OF THAT, TO LIVE SOMETHING LIKE GEORGE COSTANZA, PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU AS SUDDENLY TONY SOPRANO.

I LAUGH AT THE THOUGHT OF THAT.

IT'S GEORGE, WHERE IS HE TRYING TO PLAY A DIFFERENT ROLE HERE.

AND THERE'S NO REASON THAT JASON ALEXANDER COULDN'T PLAY SOME GREAT, DRAMATIC ROLE OR OTHER GREAT COMEDIC ROLE, BUT IT'S SO HARD TO SHIFT, AND I KNOW JULIA HAS DONE IT, BUT THAT'S -- JUST SHOWS YOU HOW HARD IT IS.

I HAVE THIS SECRET BELIEF IT WAS HER MAIN LIFE GOAL AFTER THAT.

SHE WAS LIKE I'M GOING TO BREAK THIS CURSE.

SOMEHOW.

SOMEHOW.

AND THERE'S COUPLE SERIES THAT HAVE DONE VERY WELL.

SHE'S AMAZING.

IT IS A TESTAMENT AT LEAST IN PART OF COURSE TO HER TALENTS.

SHE'S JUST -- I THINK SHE'S THE GREATEST WORKING RIGHT NOW PRESIDENT, END OF STORY.

WATCH HER DELIVER SOME LINES.

BUT TALKING ABOUT TELEVISION, YOU SEE SOME PARALLELS TO 'FRIENDS.'

CULTURAL ICONS, LINES COME FROM PEOPLE THAT USE IN THEIR EVERYDAY EXISTENCE AND THE ACTORS HAVE ALL BEEN GOOD AND THEY'VE ALL DONE SOME THINGS BUT NOBODY HAS HAD THAT MONSTER HIT AFTERWARDS.

AND LET'S REMEMBER WE'RE ASKING THEM TO HAVE AN EQUAL HIT AT A TIME WHEN NO ONE HAS EQUAL HITS SO I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT WOULD BE.

I THINK VEEP IS EQUIVALENT EVEN THOUGH IT'S A MUCH, MUCH TEENIER AUDIENCE, BUT IT'S A PRESTIGED SHOW ON HBO.

SHE'S WON AWARDS, CRITICAL RECOGNITION.

THAT'S ALL YOU CAN ASK FOR AT THIS POINT, A COUPLE MILLION VIEWERS AND SOME EMMYS IS ABOUT EQUAL TO TENS OF MILLIONS OF VIEWERS THAT SEINFELD GOT.

DIFFERENT TIME, DIFFERENT TIME FROM ALL OF THIS.

I WANT TO GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING AND I DON'T WANT TO GIVE UP PLENTY OF STORIES HERE, BUT THERE ARE PLENTY.

I FIND THE GENESIS OF THE SHOW SO FASCINATING AND IT WILL WET THE APPETITE FOR SOME OF OUR VIEWERS.

JUST HOW IT BECAME A TELEVISION SHOW, JUST EXPLAIN.

NBC APPROACHED JERRY SEINFELD LIKE THEY DO.

THAT'S JUST A NORMAL THING.

LIKE HEY DO YOU WANT A MEETING, WE SORT OF LIKE YOU.

IT DOESN'T REALLY MEAN ANYTHING.

HE WAS A COMEDIAN, VERY SUCCESSFUL, GOING ON ALL THE LATE-NIGHT SHOWS.

HE WAS DOING WELL.

HE WAS FINE BY THE WAY.

HE WAS PERFECTLY CONTENT, YOU KNOW, HE WASN'T LOOKING AROUND, BUT NBC SAID, SURE, I'LL TAKE THIS MEETING.

SO HE WENT TO THE MEETING AND WAS LIKE I GUESS I'D LIKE TO DO SOMETHING.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT.

HE MENTIONED THIS TO HIS FRIENDS, LARRY DAVID, ONE NICE AFTER THEY DID, YOU KNOW, THE STAND-UP SCENE HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.

AND CAN YOU THINK OF TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF COMEDIANS AND THEY WERE BUDDIES, THEY BECOME FRIENDS BUT THEIR STYLES AND THEIR APPROACHES WERE SO DIOMETRICALLY OPPOSED.

THEY FOUND THIS OVERING THINGS KIND OF THE EVERYDAY IRRITATIONS OF LEFT.

LARRY DAVIS IS MORE THE IRRITATIONS PART AND SEINFELD IS THE EVERYDAY PART.

THEY WERE KIND OF GETTING GOING AS DO YOU WHEN YOU'RE GETTING EXCITED AND THEY WERE AT A KOREAN DELI AND KIND OF RIFFING ON STUFF, WHICH THEY DO ALL THE TIME.

THIS IS JUST SHOPPING WITH THESE GUYS.

THEY'RE MAKING FUN OF PRODUCTS AND WHAT IS THIS SUPPOSED TO DO AND WHAT IS THIS ABOUT, AND THAT'S WHEN LARRY SAID, THIS IS WHAT THE SHOW SHOULD BE, TWO GUYS TALKING, AND IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL IN ITS SIMPLICITY, BUT IT'S YOU BETTER BE LARRY DAVID AND JERRY SEINFELD TALKING.

IT'S NOT NECESSARILY GOING TO TURN INTO A MONSTER, COMEDIC HIT.

THOSE GUYS TALKING WE'LL LISTEN.

TALK IN NEW YORK CITY.

BUT THEY GOT EXCITED ABOUT THAT FOR GOOD REASON AND STARTED RIFFING ALL NIGHT LONG AT A RESTAURANT NEARBY AND GOT EXCITED SO THEIR IDEA WAS ACTUALLY KIND OF -- THEY HAD AN IDEA WHICH WAS -- WHAT IF IT'S ABOUT HOW A COMEDIAN GETS HIS MATERIAL FROM HIS EVERYDAY LIFE.

THAT'S NOT REALLY HOW WE END UP THINKING ABOUT SEINFELD, BUT YOU CAN SEE HOW THAT'S SORT OF A CUTE IDEA TO BEGIN ABOUT, OKAY.

JERRY CAN STILL PLAY HIMSELF, BECAUSE HE'S IMPORTANT, SHE'S NOT A GRAND SHAKESPERIAN ACTOR.

WE'LL SHOW HIM DOING STAND UP, AND SHOW HIM DOING SOMETHING ABOUT HIS LIFE.

THAT'S HOW THE SHOW CAME ALONG.

AND PEOPLE SHOULD GO BACK AND WATCH THE BEGINNING AND THEN GO -- AND THEN PICK UP SOME OF THE LATER ONES TO SEE THE EVOLUTION.

I HAPPEN TO MISS WHEN THEY STOPPED DOING THE LITTLE BYTES OF HIS STANDUP ROUTINE.

THAT WENT AWAY AND YOU UNDERSTOOD WHY, BUT IT'S A FASCINATING LOOK, ONCE AGAIN, SEINFELDIA, HOW A SHOW CHANGED FROM NOTHING TO SOMETHING.

JENNIFER, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

YOU TAKE CARE.

> I TELL JOKES FOR A LIVING, BUT THERE'S NO JOKING ABOUT THE IF FINANCIAL CRISIS HERE AT PBS.

13 WAS A BEACON OF INSPIRATION TO JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN, BACK IN 1994.

I'D LIKE TO SPEAK WITH JERRY.

JERRY?

YOUR GRANDMOTHER IS ON THE LINE.

MY NANA?

SHE'S GENEROUSLY WRITING PBS A CHECK FOR $1,500.

CANCEL THAT.

SHE'S ON A VERY FIXED INCOME.

STOP THE SHOW!

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