The ''Seinfeld'' crew -- The people who run the show off camera talk about their work

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 every behind-the-scenes player, but here is a peek at some MVPs.

Larry David

Cocreator/Former Executive Producer

AGE 50
PREVIOUS CREDITS Fridays, Saturday Night Live
JOB DESCRIPTION Until quitting at the end of season 7, David was like the Soup Nazi, only nicer: the perfectionist who oversaw every detail. ”The whole show was filtered through his sensibility,” says onetime coexec producer Peter Mehlman. Jerry Seinfeld seconded that in ’92, when he told EW that in spite of the show’s name, it was often more a reflection of David’s life than his own. ”Our senses of humor dovetail in such a way that the words sound right coming out of my mouth,” he said. But ”90 percent of the show comes from Larry.” 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 many more, 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 show’s last seasons — just released his first movie, Sour Grapes, a black comedy (surprise!).
RELATES TO George. ”He was a vehicle to act out my baser thoughts. And there are a lot of those.”
FAVORITE EPISODES ”The Contest” (49), ”The Soup Nazi” (110), and ”The Boyfriend” (34) — ”because I loved having lunch with Keith Hernandez.”
CENSORED David insists NBC never nixed any plotlines. ”Sometimes we’d say ‘penis’ seven times. They’d say, ‘Make it four.”’
STOLEN FROM LIFE ”Every show there was something.” For starters, David was once master of his domain. The ”Pilot” pitch meeting mirrored his and Jerry’s: ”One Castle Rock exec looked quite appalled.” And of course, the inspiration for Cosmo Kramer is Kenny Kramer, a former neighbor. Though Michael Richards’ character is zanier, both Kramers are ”kind of tactless” and ”did well with women. I was quite in awe of him.”

Peter Melhman

Former Writer/Producer

AGE 41
PREVIOUS CREDITS One ”disastrous” rewritten Wings episode.
JOB DESCRIPTION The author of the first freelance episode (”The Apartment,” 10) and 21 others, he helped run the show in the post-Larry David era before leaving at the end of the eighth season to work on his own show for DreamWorks SKG. ”I always thought my biggest accomplishment was avoiding the mines,” says Mehlman. ”The first couple of years, you could say the wrong thing and you were completely out of favor.” Mehlman admits the episodes tended to get wackier as the series aged. ”The small stories become increasingly harder to find,” he explains. ”When you’re on the air for eight [seasons], you have to get more creative — and it helps if your budget is virtually unlimited.” A former journalist, Mehlman was hired by Jerry largely on the strength of a droll New York Times article about star spotting. ”I had never written dialogue, other than making up quotes.”
RELATES TO Jerry. ”We’ve had a similar life: living in New York, coming out to L.A., various dating experiences.”
FAVORITE EPISODES ”The Hamptons” (81) — ”it was like a French farce with people going in and out of rooms”; and ”The Yada Yada” (145), ”a throwback to the old days. No action, all talking.”
CENSORED Entertainment Tonight refused to lend its theme song to the episode about Kramer’s Mary Hart-induced seizures (36).
BIGGEST CHALLENGE Writing for Kramer. ”My strategy was to come up with very sane stories and then let his personality take it to crazy places.”
STOLEN FROM LIFE A guy at Mehlman’s gym actually looks like Salman Rushdie. ”Also, the double dip happened at a party. That was a godsend — you dream of something like that.” And ”I’m embarrassed to say I once asked an airline about a death-in-the-family fare.” (All in 57.)

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