You can never get enough about “Seinfeld.”
At least that’s my theory.
And that’s why I’m going to share some notes from my interview with Jason Alexander that were left on the cutting room floor.
The story in Tuesday’s edition of The Buffalo News about the multi-talented actor who played George Costanza was long enough, so something had to be cut.
It turns out a lot was cut in the story about Alexander's appearance Saturday with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. And there’s nothing like more from Jason Alexander.
Alexander was surprised that I wanted to ask him anything about “Seinfeld,” the show about nothing that aired its last original episode in 1998.
“I don’t know if you know, we haven’t made it for awhile so I don’t know if the questions are relevant,” he said. “But you go ahead. You do your thing.”
I quickly assured him “Seinfeld” reruns are still popular on Channel 29 so anything about the show is still relevant.
I asked Alexander about the widely-reported stories that Danny DeVito, Steve Buscemi and Nathan Lane also were up for the role of George Costanza.
Alexander said he had heard that band leader Paul Shaffer of “Late Show with David Letterman” and Chris Rock had been mentioned as candidates for the role. He hadn’t heard about Lane, but said it made “perfect sense” to him since they were often up for the same roles.
“If you ask Larry (co-creator Larry David), he will tell you the minute they saw me on tape they said, ‘that’s it,’” said Alexander.
Alexander was very cordial throughout the interview. However, he didn’t love being asked about the controversy surrounding comments he made months ago on Howard Stern's radio show about cast members having difficulty doing scenes with Heidi Swedberg, the actress that played Susan, George’s fiancé. She was killed off by licking poisonous wedding envelopes.
He later apologized for making those comments. And he didn’t want to go there again in my interview.
“I don’t even want to bring it back up,” he said. “It got handled badly the time I talked about it and I tried to explain it and nobody does it well so I am just going to let it go.”
Of course, the comment won’t disappear no matter how good a magician Alexander can be.
Yes, you can add magician to his skills. I asked him how he attained that talent.
“I was kind of a loner kid, a little bit shy,” said Alexander. “Those kinds of kids kind of feel overwhelmed and powerless. I went to a birthday party and a magician did something wonderful and he recommended a book at the local library that was a basic course about magic. Becoming a magician really enthralled me. I love magic. I was OK, I wasn’t great. By the time I was a teenager, I knew I wasn’t great and probably wasn’t destined to be great. The illusion of theater became a magic trick I found myself much more capable of doing.”
That led to asking him about his stage name. His birth name is Jay Scott Greenspan. His cousin, WGR sports talk host Howard Simon, told me that Jay added “son” to his first name and used his father’s first name of Alexander as his last name to get his stage name Jason Alexander. Simon said Jay’s new name therefore meant the actor was “the son of Alexander.”
The actor said that his cousin was close. He said that he wanted to use Jason Scott as his stage name but several other actors in AFTRA had that name in various different spellings.
“I could not get it,” said Alexander. “In that moment, I felt bad about losing my family name and thought, ‘what about my father’s first name, Alexander?’ It was spur of the moment.”
His cousin also misled me just a little into thinking how ironic it was that Costanza worked for the New York Yankees when Alexander knew nothing about sports despite the fact that his uncle – Simon’s father – was a big shot sports director in New York City from the early 1950s through the 1980s.
“He tried as desperately as he could to make a sports fan out of me, it just didn’t work,” said Alexander.
However, Alexander denied his cousin’s claim he knew nothing and cared nothing about sports.
“It is not true,” said Alexander. “When I was a teenager I was a big Knicks fan in the days of Earl Monroe, Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere. I was never really a hockey fan. I was a huge Mets fan all the way through the miracle where they finally one the World Series in 1986. And I sort of gave up.”
While on the subject of his cousin, I couldn’t resist asking Alexander a question about his hair. Does he or Simon have more of it?
“That’s a very good question,” replied Alexander. “Does Howard have anything to comb over? It is probably a tossup. He only has the mustache, I have a goatee. I might beat him on facial hair.”
Actually, Jason hasn’t seen his cousin in a while. Simon no longer has a mustache.
Finally, in Tuesday’s newspaper story, Alexander explained that Jerry Seinfeld once wanted the series or an episode to end with George, Jerry, Kramer and Elaine talking about some unimportant topic before Jerry ended the discussion with the final words “all right, that’s enough.”
That led me to go online to research the actual final words of the series before an epilogue. It turns out they also illustrated that Jerry felt the Fab Four had just about done and said it all.
"Seinfeld” trivia experts know that the first words of the show’s pilot were the same as the last words of the finale before the epilogue.
They came after a discussion between Jerry and George about the relatively unimportant topic of the button location on George’s shirt.
“Haven't we had this conversation before?” asked George
“You think?” said Jerry.
“I think we have,” said George.
“Yeah, maybe we have,” said Jerry in conclusion.
That comes real close to “all right, that’s enough,” don’t you think?