Behind-the-scenes players on ''Seinfeld''
We give you a peek at some of the people responsible for the show's success, from Larry David to Andy Ackerman
Like their beloved Yankees, the Seinfeld crew is very much a team — a big one, too. There’s not enough room to tip our hats to each and every behind-the-scenes player, but here (and on the next few pages) is a peek at a handful of MVPs.
LARRY DAVID Cocreator, former executive producer
CREDITS: Fridays, Saturday Night Live
JOB DESCRIPTION: Until quitting last year, David was Seinfeld‘s version of the Soup Nazi, only nicer: He was the committed perfectionist who oversaw the sitcom’s every detail. ”The whole show was filtered through his sensibility,” says current coexec producer Peter Mehlman. A former New York stand-up, David conceived the show with Jerry while at a grocery store riffing on products. He wrote roughly 60 episodes and rewrote too many to count, but found the whole process as painful as natural childbirth. ”I set the bar very high for myself,” says David. ”I couldn’t live with bad shows.” David — who says it was ”weird” not working on the ’96-97 season — is currently shooting Sour Grapes, a black comedy (surprise!) starring Wings’ Steven Weber. RELATES TO: George. ”He was a vehicle to act out my baser, sicker thoughts. And there are a lot of those.” FAVORITE EPISODES: Among others, ”The Contest,” ”The Rye,” and ”The Boyfriend” — ”because I loved having lunch with Keith Hernandez.” CENSORED: David insists NBC never nixed any language. ”Sometimes we’d say ‘penis’ seven times in an episode. They’d say, ‘Make it four.”’ STOLEN FROM LIFE: ”Every single show there was something.” For starters, David was once master of his domain. And the pitch meeting in ”The Pilot” mirrored his and Jerry’s. ”I remember one Castle Rock exec looked quite appalled.” And, of course, the inspiration for Kramer — Kenny Kramer, 53 — a former neighbor, now running for mayor of New York. ”I’d vote for him,” says David, ”because he’s incorporated the name tag issue into his platform” (see episode 68). Though Richards’ character is zanier, both Kramers ”did well with women. I was quite in awe of his prowess.”
ANDY ACKERMAN Director
CREDITS: Wings, Cheers, Frasier
JOB DESCRIPTION: Taking over in the sixth season (former director Tom Cherones went on to direct Ellen and NewsRadio, among other shows), Ackerman found Seinfeld was ”unlike any other show. It’s like doing a little movie every week.” In other words, more scenes, plenty of location shoots, and fewer boring close-ups. ”Andy is definitely visually ambitious,” says Seinfeld. ”He likes to spend the extra four hours to mount a camera inside a toilet bowl.” After wrapping the last episode of this season, Ackerman moonlighted as director of NBC’s upcoming Jenny, which he promises is free of fart and vomit jokes. ”It felt like it was the maturing of Jenny McCarthy.” SECRETS: By now, the Big Four rarely need acting tips. Richards, however, likes to rehearse more than the others (”He’s got all the physical stuff [to work out], and he admits he has trouble learning his lines compared to the other three”). And when he arrived, Ackerman urged Jerry to take his role more seriously. ”I told him it’s kind of endearing when the audience sees you crack up, but at the same time it’s sort of distracting.” Now, he says, ”Jerry’s really getting good.” BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Thank God for pillows and kitchen counters, two ways Ackerman found to disguise Louis-Dreyfus’ pregnancy this spring. FAVORITE EPISODE: Ackerman says ”The Rye” was a particularly fun shoot — the cast took advantage of the winterized set and started an off-camera snowball fight.