Clockwise from top left: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Larry David, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander, Seinfeld
Question: Please help settle a bet between my brother and myself. The loser has to buy tickets to a Braves game. I say Larry David showed up on Seinfeld a few times, but my brother says he didn't. What do you say? Who's right?
Answer: Assuming your brother has to buy a ticket for you, Phil, I say enjoy the game. Your brother may not have recognized him, but David did pop up on the show during its eight-year run, which started in May 1990.
Most fans know that Seinfeld cocreator David (Fridays, Curb Your Enthusiasm) provided the voice of George Steinbrenner on the show. That alone, I'm thinking, wouldn't settle your bet since your bro might try to weasel out by saying he meant actually being seen. At which point you tell him that David also showed up in a sci-fi movie Jerry was watching in Season 2's "The Heart Attack." (He was the guy in the space suit shouting, "Like flaming globes, Sigmund!") And if that's not good enough, he also later played Frank Costanza's caped buddy.
Another bit of trivia David told TV Guide in 2004: Steinbrenner himself was supposed to take up a story line on Seinfeld but was dropped after one bout of shooting. And that situation itself might've made a decent Seinfeld script. "He shot one scene. I had to call him up and tell him he was cut from the show," David recalled. "I said, 'I'm sorry, Mr. Steinbrenner, we're going to have to cut you out.' He said, 'Why?' I said, 'We were running very long, and it was a scene that could be very easily excised.' And he said, 'Come on, you can tell me. I'm a big boy.'" Pressed for an explanation, David admitted: "[I]t was because he was no good."
And just to settle any other Seinfeld-related bets that might pop up, let me cover another few tidbits, in no particular order (not that there's anything wrong with that... yada, yada, yada — there, I've gotten the clichés out of the way). Among the other actors considered for the show's starring roles were: Steve Buscemi, Brad Hall, Nathan Lane, David Alan Grier and Larry Miller (George); Rosie O'Donnell, Megan Mullally and Patricia Heaton (Elaine); Tony Shalhoub and Larry Hankin (Kramer — though Hankin eventually appeared as the actor playing Kramer in the sitcom-within-a-sitcom version).
Also, Newman (Wayne Knight) was originally written as the African-American son of Jerry's landlord in Season 2's "The Revenge," but it was only an off-camera part by the time the episode aired. So Knight was cast in the role the following season. Not only that, but Kramer actually knocked on Jerry's door in the pilot (which Elaine didn't appear in), Kramer was originally named Kessler because David thought real-life friend Kenny Kramer might try to capitalize on the fame (which he did), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus wasn't set on taking the role of Elaine when David offered it to her. ("Can you imagine?" she later asked.) In addition, you only saw late actor Lawrence Tierney as Elaine's writer father once because Tierney "scared the living crap out of all of us," according to Jason Alexander. Among his misdeeds while on the set: He stole a butcher knife from the kitchen in Jerry's apartment and, when asked about it by Seinfeld, pulled it out and started making the slashing music from Psycho. "He was a total nut job," Louis-Dreyfus recalled.
Funny thing is, we wouldn't be talking about any of this if NBC hadn't stuck with the series, which took quite some time to develop into the megahit it eventually became (or any kind of hit at all, for that matter). Test audiences didn't like the pilot, NBC suits said it was "too Jewish" and "too New York," and the show was only added to the schedule mid-season as an afterthought. "It's a great story of hanging in there," Seinfeld said. "People think of it as this big hit show, and it wasn't for a long time — almost half its life.... We would always lose to Jake and the Fatman. We would get closer, and then he would get fatter and pull away."