Seinfeld Season DVDs

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by LorenzoL, Feb 27, 2004.

  1. LorenzoL

    LorenzoL Second Unit

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    Well it seems that Jerry Seinfeld and his three co-stars have finally resolved their dispute and will be participating on the Seasons DVD later this year (estimated guess of their release is near the end of 2004).

    There is an excellent article on Canada's Globe and Mail with Jason Alexander about the whole dispute.





    Pact brings peace to the Seinfeld cast

    Resolution of a bitter conflict over royalties clears the way for the release of a DVD collection

    By MATTHEW KALMAN
    Special to The Globe and Mail
    Friday, February 27, 2004 - Page R2



    JERUSALEM -- Amultimillion-dollar dispute over royalties between Jerry Seinfeld and the three co-stars of his long-running television comedy series has finally been settled, allowing the release of an official DVD collection of the show's 180 episodes, plus newly filmed interviews and other material.

    In an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail, Jason Alexander (who played George Costanza on Seinfeld) said a deal "has very recently been worked out" after months of tension.

    Describing the comedy star's behaviour over money as "inappropriate," Alexander said that he, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) and Michael Richards (Kramer) had refused to provide extra material for the DVD collection because Seinfeld and Castle Rock Television, which produced the series for NBC, refused to pay them or offer a share in the royalties.

    He said the Seinfeld producers have now agreed that the three co-stars will also earn royalties from the DVD collection.

    "We are currently in negotiations so that we are participants in the DVD and that's a happy arrangement because we didn't really want to create this sort of negative impression of our experience," said Alexander, who has just ended a nine-month run in a theatre production of The Producers in Los Angeles.

    Michael Richards broke ranks in December and agreed to work on the DVD.

    "I innocently asked a question, 'Is there some compensation?' I don't believe there is," Richards told The New York Times.

    A similar dispute nearly scuttled the last series of the nine-year-long show. The three co-stars have no share in the royalties, which have netted Seinfeld more than a billion dollars.

    Alexander said the three co-stars decided to get tough during negotiations for the final series in 1997. They told NBC Entertainment chief Warren Littlefield that Jerry Seinfeld's decision to cut them out of the show's massive royalties had created an unacceptable gap between the actors.

    They did manage to raise their fee for the final series to the same level as Seinfeld himself -- about $1-million an episode -- but Alexander said it was done with a heavy heart.

    "We made a deal that was acceptable to us. We got paid very handsomely for our final season," he said. "It was in the pool of profit for NBC to give us those salaries.

    "We weren't asking for something that wasn't there, but it was still inappropriate. It drove the cost of production of a TV show sky-high.

    "I remember saying to Warren Littlefield: 'We're not kidding and we deserve this, but you're an idiot if you make this deal. It'll destroy television.' "

    Alexander said the three co-stars would have greatly preferred "back-end participation" -- a share in royalties from future profits, rather than taking such huge salaries up-front.

    "Julia, Michael and I, during our big renegotiation for the final year, asked for something that I will go to my grave saying we should have had, and that is back-end participation in the profits for the show.

    "It was categorically denied to us, which forced us to then ask for ungodly salaries," he said.

    "We make very little, standard Screen Actors Guild residuals for the reruns," he said.

    "I'm not ashamed to talk numbers. I would say in the years that we've been in syndication, Julia, Michael and I have probably individually seen about a quarter of a million dollars out of residuals, whereas our brethren have seen hundreds of millions of dollars. Seinfeld has a profit of over a billion dollars."

    "When the DVDs came up, we were being asked to provide new services," he said. "We had no problem with the DVDs being released, but then they said, 'We want you to perform new services. We want to do interviews and create additional footage and additional material.' Why would we do that? They said, 'Because of the legacy of the show.'

    "Well, the character of George is not a millstone around my neck but I had to turn to my former bosses and say, 'I'm not invested in the longevity of the show. The longevity of the show actually is a detriment to me right now. It keeps me from getting certain kind of work. You have not made me a participant in the life of this show, therefore I am not inclined to give you these services.'

    "It took a while for them to understand. Frankly, I think they were well prepared to proceed without our services until the audience said, 'Don't do that.'

    "I said to Jerry when he made the decision years ago to not let us in, 'The day will come when you regret this decision, only because it's going to put us in a position eventually of seemingly tainting the wonderful impression of what this was for the four of us.

    "You have created a rift between you and the three of us, and while we are in no way, shape or form looking for parity with you, you have created a chasm that is also inappropriate,' " Alexander recalled.
     
  2. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    Lorenzo, thanks for the article. I've got to say that for the most part I agree with the stance that Jason Alexander took on this matter. By that I mean, if it were me I'd probably be saying the same kinds of things as he did in this article, especially to save face.

    Of course, I'd kill for even a half of a million of reruns so I'm not entirely sympathetic to his cause.

    I'll definitely buy the DVDs though.
     
  3. Kevin Porter

    Kevin Porter Supporting Actor

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    My only concern is that the newly contracted residuals means the price will jack up (ala X-files). Of course many will buy these regardless of price. There's no doubt these will be the bestselling TV boxsets of all time. It's great to know that everyone's involved with the production of speical features now even if I disagree with their stance (I wouldn't exactly be crying over a "mere" $250,000 in reruns)
     
  4. EricW

    EricW Cinematographer

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    i find it hard to believe that they initially didn't offer the 3 stars ANYTHING (given relations were already strained). from the producer's side of the story, i think they said they offered the 3 stars a flat fee, in contradiction to Alexander's story.
     
  5. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    Well, this is good news. I had a feeling that it would be eventually worked out.


    Well for the most part, that is pretty standard. There's a recent thread in the Film forum about commentaries and Charlie de Lauzirika confims that talent does not get paid for such participation (maybe a pittance of a fee to come in)
     
  6. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    Wow, I think Alexander was right. It'd be interesting to know if the cast of friends had "back-end participation". Still, $1 million an episode isn't bad, but like Alexander said, the disparity between the producer's and the cast's residules is absurd.

    $100 million vs ΒΌ
     
  7. Rob Keil

    Rob Keil Agent

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    I also agree with Jason Alexander on all his points. They should not be expected to work for free when they clearly were cut a very unequal deal in the first place.

    A BILLION dollars is 4000 times more than $250k. Jerry Seinfled was not 4000 times more important to the series than the other actors. Five times or ten times more important, maybe, but not 4000.
     
  8. LorenzoL

    LorenzoL Second Unit

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    It was a very interesting article for me since I had no idea that the relationship between Seinfeld and his co-stars was this strained.

    I guess we can forget about a Reunion special in the near future.
     
  9. John CW

    John CW Supporting Actor

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    That's show-business, I doubt it would prevent a reunion special at all!
     
  10. Vincent Matis

    Vincent Matis Second Unit

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    Such as releasing each season individually, then a box set with all seasons and a DVD bonus with the reunion special... :wink:
     

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