"You mean you don't think of me synonymously with country music?" Jason Alexander laughs when asked how he came to be nominated for a trophy at Wednesday's CMA Awards (8 pm/ET, ABC). Best known, of course, for his iconic role as George Costanza on Seinfeld, Alexander has been branching out as a director, helming episodes of the CW's Everybody Hates Chris and Oxygen's Campus Ladies. But it's his work behind the camera on Brad Paisley's music video "Online" that scored him his first CMA nomination. The hilarious clip stars Alexander (who also appeared in Paisley's video for "Celebrity") as a nerdy guy living a double life on the Internet, and features cameos from William Shatner, Estelle Harris, Patrick Warburton and Maureen McCormick.
TVGuide.com: How did you end up in this working relationship with Brad Paisley?
Jason Alexander: Brad and I have a mutual friend, a guy named Peter Tilden [who executive-produced Alexander's 2001 series Bob Patterson]. When Brad was looking to make a video several years ago for "Celebrity," Peter called in a bunch of his pals and that's how I first met Brad. We had such a fun time on "Celebrity" that when ["Online"] came around... Brad said, "Not only would I like you to be in it, but how would you feel about directing it?" It was a coup for me.
TVGuide.com: How did you line up such a terrific cast?
Alexander: We basically had a day [to shoot] the concert footage and two days for everything else, so we just started calling up friends. I called Estelle Harris, who played my mom on Seinfeld. Peter Tilden and I both called Shatner. And at the last minute we called Warburton and asked him to come down. We're sorta like the Brad Paisley rep company at this point.
TVGuide.com: What does it feel like to be nominated for a CMA?
Alexander: It's a bit goofy! [Laughs] Brad kept saying as we were shooting, "You know, you're going to get nominated for this." And I went, "Yeah, OK, perfect. I haven't won an Emmy yet, Brad, let alone a CMA." But it's a lovely thing. When we were making the video, I kept thinking, "Is this a little too inside... a little too Hollywood for the audience?" I guess [being nominated] is an indication that it wasn't. The audience really responded to it.
TVGuide.com: Will you be in Nashville for the awards?
Alexander: I will not. And it breaks my heart. I took over the artistic direction of a theater organization here in [Los Angeles] and I'm directing the revival of a major musical. It opens the same night. As the director, I've got to be there. It's a totally revamped version of Damn Yankees, featuring an African-American and Latino cast.
TVGuide.com: So... are you a country-music fan?
Alexander: I'm a music geek. I grew up with musical theater. And the reason I like musical-theater songs is because they tell stories and have real emotion. For the most part, that's country music. They tell stories and they have some real emotional equivalent. And when there's the kind of musicianship that Brad has, who doesn't get excited about that?
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