DC, the show

Jason was a good actor. He earned enough to live. He was an actor, not a waiter/actor. He averaged a few guest appearances on television shows each year. He had rolls in Pretty Woman and Coneheads and acted on Saturday Night Live. He did some stage shows too.

Jason was fine.

Then his agent told him there was another audition. It was kinda weird, a bit off the beaten path for what a TV show might be, but it was a job.

Jason auditioned and got the part. If the show got picked up past the pilot and first and second seasons it might be his big break. Except it was bad bordering an awful. In a moment of candor and calm, one of the show’s creators asked Jason - someone with a decent amount of show business experience - if he thought the show would make it past a pair of seasons. “No way,” Jason said.

Yet the show worked. It worked great. George Costanza, nee Jason Alexander, starred in one of the best shows ever. The show worked for a lot of reasons, but one of which was a decentralized command.

In the book, Seinfeldia Jennifer Armstrong writes: “As soon as Alexander got the full pilot script, he noticed a major difference between The Seinfeld Chronicles and other shows he’d done. The pages contained few to no behavioral cues or stage directions; they had nothing but dialogue.”

Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld wrote the words but expected the actors to figure out what to do. Once Alexander realized he was playing a version of Larry David he got even better.

In the same way Larry and Jerry trusted the actors, NBC executive Rick Ludwin trusted Larry and Jerry. Armstrong again, “Ludwin, known for protecting the creative talent behind the shows he supervised, impressed upon Bosgang the importance of empowering David and Seinfeld to make the kind of show they wanted to make, even when the network didn’t understand what the producers were doing. Ludwin said their department’s job was to fight for Seinfeld at the network.”

For the 100th episode the cast and crew shared a cake. To commemorate the moment they printed a list of all of NBC’s notes for the pilot. Almost none of them were made.