‘Seinfeld’: Jason Alexander Said He Was ‘Not Invested in the Longevity of the Show’ –Here’s Why

The cast of Seinfeld did get along in real life, but that doesn’t mean they never had disagreements. One of the biggest sources of animosity between Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld), Jason Alexander (George Costanza), Michael Richards (Cosmo Kramer), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine Benes) had to do with their very unequal compensation.

It’s true that by the final season of Seinfeld all four main cast members were raking in $1 million per episode. However, three of them were cut out of lucrative future royalty payments, which earned Seinfeld and co-creator Larry David hundreds of millions of dollars post-finale.

This discrepancy was enough to prompt a response from Alexander, who said he didn’t really care if the Seinfeld’s popularity died after the series ended.

‘Seinfeld’ ran for 9 hilarious seasons

Seinfeld cast
Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer | George Lange/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Seinfeld is one of those sitcoms that ended while it was still incredibly popular. Network execs were so impressed by the ratings that they begged Seinfeld to do another season, but he stubbornly stuck to ending it after the ninth year. This was partially due to numerology and partially because he was afraid they had no more stories to tell.

Alexander agreed with that assessment. He said during an interview, “The obstacle was that after nine seasons, the audience could more or less anticipate how any of these characters would react in any given situation.”

Essentially, he said they were out of material. “There was nothing new we could do to these characters and still have it be Seinfeld… Since the show had career-wise done everything it was going to do for us and it had taken care of us financially extremely well, the mutual thought was why don’t we tuck it in before the audience says this kid’s been up too long.”

Jason Alexander didn’t care about keeping ‘Seinfeld’ popular

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The series aired their big finale on May 14, 1998. But even more than two decades later, fans are still just as enamored by Seinfeld. This is partially due to the quality, and partially because of post-show promotion. But Alexander did not want to participate because he wasn’t cut into those lucrative royalty payments.

“When the DVDs came up, we were being asked to provide new services,” he told The Globe and Mail. “We had no problem with the DVDs being released, but then they said, ‘We want you to perform new services. We want to do interviews and create additional footage and additional material.’ Why would we do that? They said, ‘Because of the legacy of the show.’”

He continued: “Well, the character of George is not a millstone around my neck, but I had to turn to my former bosses and say, ‘I’m not invested in the longevity of the show. The longevity of the show actually is a detriment to me right now. It keeps me from getting certain kind of work. You have not made me a participant in the life of this show, therefore I am not inclined to give you these services.’”

The ‘Seinfeld’ castmates eventually reached a truce

Though the money dispute remains a point of contention, the three cast members did eventually agree to film the extra for the DVD.

“It took a while for them to understand. Frankly, I think they were well prepared to proceed without our services until the audience said, ‘Don’t do that,’” Alexander said.

“I said to Jerry when he made the decision years ago to not let us in, ‘The day will come when you regret this decision, only because it’s going to put us in a position eventually of seemingly tainting the wonderful impression of what this was for the four of us.”

They’ll always have the Seinfeld memories, even if their compensation is far from equal.