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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.

-- CNN's Kitty Pilgrim reports on Seinfeld's decision --
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"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 editions.

"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 graceful."

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.

Seinfeld quote 1

'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 and Susan
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. icon 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 statement.

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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"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 was "understandable."

"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.

Voices from the street
Jerry's nemesis is a postal worker named Newman (Wayne Knight)  

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. icon 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 owns CNN.


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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