June 12, 2009

Paul Shaffer could have played the role of George Constanza on "Seinfeld."

"In his new book.... [he] reveals he was offered the role of George Costanza before it went to Jason Alexander. Seinfeld handpicked Shaffer for the role and told him, 'There’s no audition ... You’ve got the part. Just call us back!' Shaffer never responded — the music man says he was too busy to accept the role."


Salamandyr said...

Seems like kind of a dick move not to have called them back, just to let them know he wasn't interested, but maybe I don't know how it works in Hollywood (or New York, or wherever they filmed that).

SteveR said...

No way he would have been anywhere close to as good as Jason Alexander was.

MadisonMan said...

The mind boggles at how much more inferior Seinfeld would have been with Shaffer there.

The World dodged a bullet.

mcg said...

Agreed, SteveR. In fact I'm skeptical of the story myself. I'll bet it was more of an off-the-cuff offer than he's suggesting. I can't believe that the producers would have taken Shaffer without so much as an audition.

Hoosier Daddy said...

No way he would have been anywhere close to as good as Jason Alexander was.

No doubt.

AllenS said...

From the series "What's Up With That?"
By AllenS

Seinfeld: "Paul, I'd like you to play the role of George Costanza."

Shaffer: "Nope. Can't do it."

Seinfeld: "Why not?"

Shaffer: "I'm too busy."

Seinfeld: "Doin' what?"

Shaffer: "Playing with my organ, and writing jokes for Dave."

ricpic said...

Actually, it's hard to believe the hard charging Jason Alexander would ever be loser George in real life. But he brought a degree of commitment and inventiveness to the role that Shaffer simply didn't have in him.

EDH said...

Given Shaffer's lame repartee with Letterman Seinfeld's tenuous, attenuated second-chance start-up, I doubt the series would have even gotten off the ground.

"The Seinfeld Chronicles" (also known as "Good News, Bad News" for syndication or even "Pilot") is the pilot episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. The pilot, the first of the 180 Seinfeld episodes, was written by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, and was directed by Art Wolff. It originally aired on July 5, 1989, and was re-broadcast July 5, 1990, after the show had been picked up as a series. The pilot guest stars Pamela Brull.

When first broadcast, the pilot was watched by nearly 11% of American households. These ratings were high enough to secure the show's first season. Seinfeld later went on to become one of the most successful sitcoms ever...

On its initial showing, July 5, 1989, The Seinfeld Chronicles was received poorly by audience testing groups. Comments included, "You can't get too excited about two guys going to the laundromat"; "Jerry's loser friend George is not a forceful character"; "Jerry needs a stronger supporting cast"; and "Why are they interrupting the stand-up for these stupid stories?" Other people complained that the show was "too Jewish" and "too New York". Jerry was seen as naive, dense and powerless. As a result, NBC passed on the show. However, NBC executive Rick Ludwin believed the series had potential. He therefore gave Seinfeld a budget to create four more episodes, which formed the rest of season 1. This is the smallest sitcom order in television history. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) has claimed that she was not aware of the pilot before she became a regular on Seinfeld. Out of superstition, she has claimed she will never watch the episode.

When it was broadcast, the pilot received a Nielsen Rating of 10.9/19, meaning that the pilot was watched by 10.9% of American households, and that 19% of all televisions in use at the time were tuned into it. When it was first repeated on July 5, 1990, it received a rating of 13.9/26. These ratings were high enough to secure a second season. NBC research showed that the show was popular with young male adults, a demographic sought after by advertisers. This gave NBC an incentive to keep broadcasting the show. One DVD reviewer, Britt Gillette, wrote that "this initial episode exhibits the flashes of brilliance that made Seinfeld a cultural phenomenon."

Another review, by Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide, said, "As one watches the pilot, it's hard to believe Seinfeld ever became so great. Okay – that's not wholly true, as one can see the sparks of the series' later inventiveness. However, the pilot is almost totally free from humor, as little about it seems amusing. It's got potential but little else." Benjamin Willcock from DVD Active wrote that, "The pilot episode entitled "The Seinfeld Chronicles" was actually not exclusive to the show, it does not, for example have most of the acting talent as seen later on in the show, and some of the references might not make sense at first. It's still a good way to get things rolling, but for the real meat you'll want to check out the remainder of the first season, as vastly abbreviated as it is."

Aaron said...

Well, since George is supposed to be based on Larry David, he certainly looks the part, but i can't believe he would have been half as good as jason alexander. Schaffer is an alright guy, but not much of an actor.

Bissage said...

(1) I should think that superficially plausible claims like that are something of a running joke in show business circles, NTTAWWT.

(2) From Woody Allen’s “European Trip,” as follows:

[Y]ou should know the etymology of how I got to Europe in the first place, which is fascinating. I was appearing in Greenwich Village at a coffee house in Bleeker street called the Integration Bagle Shop and Flea Parlor. . . .

[A]nd in walks one night Mr. Feldman, our producer, and he just adored me on sight. He thought I was attractive and sensual and good-looking, and just made for motion pictures. He is a little short man with red hair and glasses

(3)(a) Paul Shaffer.

(3)(b) Larry David.

(3)(c) Jason Alexander.

Pogo said...

The Willow Palin jokes wouldn't have made any sense back then.

Fred4Pres said...

He could have method acted Letterman into the part and probably really done well at it.

But that assumes he could act.

MadisonMan said...

I once read that Ed McMahon could have played the role of Charles Emerson Winchester (the IIIrd) on M*A*S*H, but he, too, was too busy.

LordSomber said...

Well, he basically did play George in his Spinal Tap cameo.

Palladian said...

How could he play Costanza since he doesn't have any eyes? He's like Scooter, if he takes off the glasses, there's nothing but smooth skin underneath.

hdhouse said...

Of course you remember that Shaffer started off in Second City and was part of the Blues Brothers band etc....so it is doubtful that he "can't act"...problem is that his host/star. no one plays well off of Letterman.

Ralph L said...

I tried watching Seinfeld several times and never found anything even remotely funny or any character appealing or interesting. The laughter sounds canned even if it isn't, and Jerry's voice is irritating.

How that show held an audience, America must be wacked, cuz I'm certainly not.

guy.from.queens said...

nice story from paul, but not at all true.
at that point in his career, jerry didn't have the power to cast the show.
casting was done by the executive producer at the time, with approval from nbc.
paul's name was never in the mix, and if it had been, it would have been thrown out immediately since a real actor was needed to work along side an inexperienced jerry.
it's certainly possible that jerry mentioned to paul that he was interested in paul playing the part, and maybe over the years paul has extended that story into more of an offer than a thought.
but it is not true.
i know, because i was that executive producer.

TMink said...

Anyone else remember A Year At The Top?

Shaffer sucked.


Ralph L said...

Ha! A real executive producer would know how to use a shift key and would have too much ego to use lower case "i".

James said...

It’s interesting news. I think that Jason has done a fabulous job in the show. He has entertained pretty well in all the seinfeld episodes. Paul would have done a decent job but not as well as Jason did.