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A PERFECT ENDING FOR 'SEINFELD' -- YOU BE THE WRITER

It's such an unoriginal idea about television's most original comedy, "Seinfeld," that I almost hesitate to raise it.

Just about every newspaper critic in America has asked his or her readers for their ideal ending for "Seinfeld," which has its hourlong series finale on NBC on May 14.

One critic went so far as to ask celebrities in Los Angeles how they would like it to end. When Matt Lauer of the "Today" show recommended a happy ending, I almost gagged.

Any "Seinfeld" viewer knows that this is one series that shouldn't go out with a hug, a marriage or a baby.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

My own assumption is that the finale -- which reportedly starts filming in a week -- will make a sick statement about money and greed.

After all, Jerry Seinfeld was being seduced to come back for another year with an insane amount of money and the series ends a year after Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine), Jason Alexander (George) and Michael Richards (Kramer) were given huge raises to compensate for their paltry syndication benefits.

Not that I begrudge them their money. Everyone is making money off "Seinfeld," which is Channel 29's most lucrative show. It reportedly sells ads at $600 a pop, and WUTV has a lot more ads during "Seinfeld" than any other Fox program.

But enough about money.

It's time to sit back and let you do my job for me.

Because Buffalo has sent Hollywood so many terrific writers -- Diane English, David Milch, Tom Fontana, Anthony Yerkovich, Patrick Hasburgh, Al Ruggiero -- my assumption is that you men and women can do a much more imaginative job than others across the nation when asked for their ideal "Seinfeld" plot ending.

And please, ignore the "Seinfeld" ending that has been making the rounds on the Internet.

The show's writers have already dismissed that as a hoax. In it, Jerry moves to Los Angeles to headline a TV variety show, Elaine falls for a Beverly Hills real estate broker, Kramer is offered his own sitcom, and George becomes a TV critic.

Of course, George is perfectly suited for that job, because he can sit around and do nothing but watch TV all day and still get paid for it. He even looks like a TV critic.

"Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David, who wrote the one-hour finale, said of the Internet script, "It's obviously the result of a mental patient with time on his hands."

Hmm. That's what we call a non-denial denial. Still, David insists the Internet script is a fraud.

Last Friday, WBEN-AM reported that the "Seinfeld" producers had let it out that Jerry and Elaine were going to a chapel in the finale (but not necessarily to be married) and that the script's final line by George was going to be, "So what am I going to do now?"

However, that report was taken from a Fox News Channel interview, and no one knew if the producers were telling the truth or purposely spreading misinformation. The NBC publicist for "Seinfeld" said the network hasn't seen a script and therefore she wouldn't be in a position to know if it was true or not.

One expects that most of the American public feels the same way about the leaks as my 13-year-old son. When WBEN said it was going to give the final line, my son told me to change the radio channel because he'd rather learn it on May 14.

The finale is expected to get a huge, almost Super Bowl rating, partly because of the hype surrounding it.

That may be a tad optimistic. As popular as "Seinfeld" is, it also has a high negative rating with viewers who can't stand its cynicism and the selfishness of its characters.

The number of cable alternatives available also suggests that the audience for the "Seinfeld" finale won't approach that of the "M*A*S*H" finale (which was sappy).

However, a show on a rival network, ABC's "Dharma & Greg," has an episode that plays off the "Seinfeld"-finale mania. In it, the newlyweds plan on having sex in public places on the night of the finale, when presumably everyone will be home watching and they won't get caught.

"Seinfeld" has one big thing going for it -- it's ending while it is still extremely popular. One recent "Seinfeld" episode played with that theme, with Jerry trying to convince George that he should end conversations before he soured his audience by staying around too long and ruining everything.

Speaking of time on one's hand, it's trivia time.

In an attempt to drive the "Seinfeld" hype, NBC is delivering a weekly quiz.

Among the questions:

What is George's bank ATM code?

During a piano recital, Jerry places what object on Elaine's leg?

What article of clothing does Jerry inadvertently make famous on NBC's "Today" morning program?

What gift does George give to Elaine in appreciation for getting him a job at Pendant Publishing?

What are the character names of Jerry's parents and George's parents?

George has the poster of what TV actor hanging on his apartment wall?

Why did Jerry break off his engagement to his fiancee, Jeannie Steinman (played by Janeane Garofalo), in the eighth-season opener, "The Foundation"?

If you can answer those questions, you appear to be ideally suited to write your ideal "Seinfeld" finale.

Please send your outline of what you'd like to see happen to the four main characters to Alan Pergament, Features Department, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240, or e-mail them to pergy@BuffNews.com.

Sometime before the May 14 finale, I'll publish as many of your responses as I have room for. Before that, I'll answer the trivia questions.

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