SEINFELDIA by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

SEINFELDIA

How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Welcome to an upfront seat at one of TV’s most popular sitcoms.

How does a TV studio replace the loss on Thursdays of Cheers, one of the greatest sitcoms of all time? With one that may be even better. Former Entertainment Weekly staffer Armstrong (Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made the Mary Tyler Show a Classic, 2013, etc.) believes that Seinfeld was special. Its “trademark bouillabaisse of cultural references and inside jokes” created “portals between its fictional world and reality,” its actors had rich characters to inhabit, and its talented writers, including star Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, wrote smart scripts. Armstrong unfolds the show’s history chapter by chapter. Here are Jerry and David, two hardworking stand-up comedians, talking in a late-night diner, coming up with an idea for a TV show based, essentially, on them, a metashow in which little happens. At first it was The Seinfeld Chronicles. Jerry wanted it changed, and NBC president Brandon Tartikoff agreed. Armstrong then covers the “players,” how four characters were created by four talented actors, followed by the “network,” the “production,” the “writers,” and the “bizarros” (the show’s many odd ducks, including the Soup Nazi and J. Peterman). It all came together to create a masterpiece. The show’s tickets were always free, and tapings could last three hours. Even the show’s relatively minor characters became national sensations. America Online’s numbers plunged when Seinfeld was on. Just before the eighth season, David decided it was time to go. Jerry was worn out too. NBC offered him $5 million per show; he was already making $1 million. He passed, and the ninth season would be Seinfeld’s last. Armstrong’s intimate, breezy history is full of gossipy details, show trivia, and insights into how famous episodes came to be.

How nothing could become something or how a national TV audience learned to live in a Beckett-ian world. Perfect for Seinfeldians and newcomers alike.

Pub Date: July 5th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4767-5610-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2016




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Kirkus Interview
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
author of SEINFELDIA
August 22, 2016

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s new bestseller Seinfeldia is the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld —the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world. Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly 40 million Americans were tuning in weekly. In Seinfeldia, TV historian and entertainment writer Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!” “Armstrong’s intimate, breezy history is full of gossipy details, show trivia, and insights into how famous episodes came to be,” our reviewer writes. “Perfect for Seinfeldians and newcomers alike.” View video >

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