Seinfeld calls decision to end show 'all about timing'
Fan: 'It's going to be a big loss'
December 26, 1997
Web posted at: 4:35 p.m. EST (2135 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Turning his back on a reported NBC offer of
$5 million an episode for the 1998-99 season, comedian Jerry
Seinfeld says his decision to stop producing 'Seinfeld' after
this season is all about "timing."
The "Seinfeld" finale next spring promises to be a television
event along the magnitude of final episodes of the
long-running TV hits "M-A-S-H" and "Cheers."
Seinfeld has been saying for the past few months that he
would make a decision around the first of the year about
whether to continue the show, which turned into a cultural
signpost for the '90s.
"For me, this is all about timing. My life is all about
timing. As a comedian, my sense of timing is everything,"
the actor/producer told The New York Times in Friday's
"I wanted to end the show on the same kind of peak we've been
doing it on for years," Seinfeld said. "I wanted the end to
be from a point of strength. I wanted the end to be
According to New York Times television writer Bill Carter,
who reported on Seinfeld's decision, it was a difficult one
for the comedian to make, but one in which the show's cast
supported him. "Everyone agreed that if this was Jerry's
call, that's the way it would go," Carter said.
'Yada, yada, yada'
The self-described show about nothing was a major profit
maker for the network.
The series spun off several now-popular phrases like "not
that there's anything wrong with that" and "yada yada yada."
Nothing was too trivial to inspire a half-hour's
ribbing; one episode had the cast searching for their car
after a day at the mall.
The show won 10 Emmys as it shed a humorous light on the
goings-on of four self-absorbed New Yorkers.
George (Jason Alexander) with fiancee Susan (Heidi
Swedberg), who died after licking toxic envelope glue
Its ensemble cast features Jerry, who plays himself as a
stand-up comedian; his former girlfriend Elaine Benes; his
high-school pal George Costanza; and his eccentric neighbor
Kramer. They all stumble through life meeting such inane
characters as the Soup Nazi, the bubble boy and a hateful
mailman named Newman.
It became popular, Carter said, because it was completely
original, and only about comedy.
"There weren't any 'very special episodes,' about somebody's
problems or emotional upsets or traumas. It was only about
being funny," with "totally self-absorbed characters," he
said. 298K/27 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
Still an NBC mainstay
Although some critics thought the show was fading this
season, its ninth, "Seinfeld" was still taking creative
chances. Just recently, it told a story backwards, from the
last scene to the opener, helped along by repetitive phrases
that eventually made sense.
"To keep a show of this caliber at its peak is a great
undertaking, and we respect Jerry's decision that at the end
of this season, it's time to move on," NBC said in a
The show's popularity certainly hasn't faded among viewers,
many of whom expressed disappointment Friday that the show
would end production.
|Voices from the street
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128K/11 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
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|Voices from the street
"It's going to be a big loss," said one "Seinfeld" fan. "It
was one of the best shows they had on."
Kenny Kramer, a New York resident on whom Michael Richards'
jumpy, ambitionless character was based, expressed surprise
that Seinfeld was dropping the show, but said his decision
"He's quitting while he's on the top and you know, it's
showing us that it's not about money, you know, it's a
creative decision that he needed to make," he said.
'ER' also faces tough negotiations
"Seinfeld" is the second-highest rated show on the air, just
below the NBC drama "ER." It is worth so much to NBC -- it
generates about $200 million a year in pure profit for the
network -- that they supposedly offered Seinfeld $5 million
an episode to continue for just one more season.
Jerry's nemesis is a postal worker named Newman (Wayne
The loss blows a hole in the center of NBC's Thursday night
lineup, the most popular in television. The network also
faces a difficult negotiation to keep "ER," which airs a half-hour after "Seinfeld."
"They were expecting Seinfeld back, they really wanted to
have it there," said TV Guide editor Greg Fagan, who cited some erosion on NBC's ratings, even on the popular Thursday
night lineup. 128K/11 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
Castle Rock Entertainment, a division of Time Warner Inc.,
has produced "Seinfeld" for seven years. Time Warner also
Certain words, phrases and characters from the show have found their way into everyday usage.Some examples:
"Yada, yada, yada"
"Not that there's anything wrong with that"
"Master of your domain"
"Festivus.....a holiday for the rest of us"
NBC almost lost "Seinfeld" after last season. Seinfeld's
supporting cast, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and
Richards, demanded a lucrative contract. A deal wasn't struck
until the eve of NBC's announcement of a fall season.
Seinfeld reportedly earns $1 million per episode and his
three co-stars $600,000.
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