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My recent discussion with Kenny Kramer

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PostPosted: February 20, 2005 7:47 PM 

As any fan knows, Kenny Kramer was the inspiration for the character of Kramer. I recently visited his website and had an email discussion with Kenny regarding the claims of Mike Costanza, the guy who claims to be the inspiration for the George Costanza character. Kenny's position as is that of Jerry's and Larry's, is that Mike is making this whole thing up and that Larry was the sole inspiration for the George character.

Let me start off by saying that Kenny seems like a great, very down-to-earth guy and was very considerate to take some time to chat with me, a big Seinfeld fan. Kenny made some strong points with why he feels that Mike Costanza is not being honest about his role in the George character.

Since I don't have Kenny's permission to share his part of the conversation with anyone else, I will merely post my comments and then ask if anyone is interested in sharing their thoughts about this matter. Why am I bothering with this? Because I have an intense interest in anything related to Seinfeld. I have no negative impressions of Jerry or Larry David. In fact, I look forward to seeing Jerry on stage and watching anything that Larry puts out. Having said that, please consider the following:

I started out by saying to Kenny:

I came across the following quote from Mike:

"George is bald. I am bald," Costanza said. "George is stocky. I am stocky. George and I both went to Queens College with Jerry. George's high-school teacher
nicknamed him 'Can't stand ya.' So did mine. George had a thing about bathrooms and parking spaces. So do I."

Apparently, Jerry and Mike were friends. Jerry even had Mike on an episode of Seinfeld. Why give someone who is not an actor a job in acting if not to acknowledge some degree of friendship and/or thanks
for something? Certainly Jerry and David have an affinity for creating characters based on real people, not to mention the character of Kramer. Wink

More coincidences include, when Mike told Jerry he had gotten some work as a hand model, an episode of Seinfeld turned up with George doing the same thing. When Mike got a hair piece, so did George.

Certainly Mike makes a strong case for his claim. Could it be that the character of "George Costanza" is a combination of Larry David and Mike Costanza? I mean, as big of a fan I am of Jerry's, it's true that
he and the other members of the cast fought over compensation during the run of the show and afterwards regarding the syndication and DVD's. Perhaps Jerry is
saying what he's saying in order to avoid paying royalties that could be quite significant. I don't know but I think it would be a mistake to rule Mike's claims out completely.

Yes, Larry has given "George" his personality but the physical aspect of George, his last name, and situations might be that of Mike's. My thinking is that there are so many similarities and coincidences that there may be more here than to what Lary and Jerry are admitting. I mean, I don't know but from the brief amount of info that I collected, it seems
plausable. How can someone explain something like, Mike's high-school teacher nicknaming him 'Can't stand ya.' and so they used the same name for George? And
how about when Mike got work as a hand model, and then in an episode of Seinfeld George turned up doing the same thing? What about when Mike got a hair piece and then afterwards George gets a hairpiece? Certainly at this time, Jerry was talking with Mike and as such could very easily have had these situations written into the script. Personally, I have no problem with
Jerry adapting these things into the script but I would think a little credit should have gone to Mike for the inspiration much like credit has gone to you for the Kramer character.


Anyway, that's the essential aspect of my part of the conversation. Obviously Kenny is close to both Larry and Jerry and so he has insight that none of us have. Nevertheless, it really seems like an incredible coincidence between Mike's story and that of the character George.

OK, guys, any thoughts?

Bob Sakamano

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PostPosted: February 20, 2005 9:27 PM 

you want some thoughts?

kenny kramer is a joke. plain and simple.
yes, the character of kramer was based from kenny kramer who was larrys neighbor. that is pretty much were the similarities end. michael richards completely developed the character kramer for how we remember him. i am not talking about the early episodes when michael played him slow witted, but when he really developed kramer over the years. kenny kramer completely exploited the whole thing into a money making adventure with his website. he takes too much credit for "Kramer" then he really should. just listen to some of the inside looks on the dvds regarding kenny kramer. he used to be actually on the set during the first year or two, and then was no longer allowed on the set. i believe he was payed off with some sort of a royalty check for the name and then told to get lost.

as for the mike costanza-
you ask how can one deny the similarities of the story lines? how about the idea that this mike (who may actually have the same name) made all of it up. i could claim that a bunch of story lines happened to me and then were portrayed to happen to jerry in later episodes. does that mean i can claim that jerrys character was based in part from me? Get real.

I am sure you had a very nice conversation with the hugely popular kenny kramer, but i am willing to bet it was more of a waste of time.

any thoughts?


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PostPosted: February 20, 2005 9:37 PM 

Sounds like there's definitely a combination of both Larry and Mike's inspiration on the character of George.

As far as royalties... Mike Costanza has no legal protection from others using his last name, his baldness, his hobbies, or anything else to base a fictional character on. Mike is entitled to nothing even if Jerry and David admitted to it.

Condo Board President

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PostPosted: February 20, 2005 9:46 PM 

If anyone doubts that Larry David is George Costanza, just watch a season's worth of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."


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PostPosted: February 20, 2005 9:50 PM 

HBO? Those bastards?

(Jimmy's gotta check out those Curb DVDs one day.)


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PostPosted: February 21, 2005 5:51 PM 

Bob Sakamano:

>>>Get real.

Yes, Bob, I am being real. All I did was pass along info that I read online regarding what Mike Costanza is claiming, not that what he says is the gospel truth. I just posted the info for discussion not as a statement of fact.

I haven't read Mike's book but from the review of others that have read the book, it sounds like he is able to back up his claims. I don't know but it is worth exploring. I mean, how many people get jobs as hand models? And, Jerry and Mike were in fact friends in college and up to at least the time that Mike appeared in a Seinfeld episode. Lastly, from what I understand, Mike Costanza has witnesses to back up his claims hence his attempt to win money in court. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't care but as a Seinfeld fan, it's a fun trivia issue.

As for Kenny, you may have some issues with him but apparently he maintains a relationship with both Jerry and Larry because Kenny says that he talks with them on regular basis. So, if Kenny was thrown off the set like you say, it couldn't have been too bad because he's apparently got a good relationship with Jerry and Larry. He has photos of himself with Jerry and Larry on his website.

Any further thoughts?

Stan The Caddy

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PostPosted: February 22, 2005 11:14 AM 

I have met Kenny Kramer, when I went on his reality tour in New York. He seems like a good guy. The poster above is correct, of course, Kenny did exploit the whole thing to the max, but it is important to note that he opens admits to this. If I recall correctly, he has said on numerous occasions that he is going to milk it for its worth. Fair enough, I say.

I don't know Mike Costanza, nor I have read much detail about his claims, but he is obviously try to exploit things as well, trying to make money selling his book, and perhaps in other ways too. Again, fair enough.

As far as the character, it seems fair to assume that the last name and maybe a few minor character details were borrowed from Mike, but the true essence of personality and character are 100% Larry David. In fact many of the experiences that George has on the show, actually happened to Larry David in real life.


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PostPosted: February 22, 2005 7:56 PM 

Stan The Caddy:

Thanks for your input. I'm actually hoping to go on the Kenny Kramer tour myself this summer. I hope it's as fun as I've heard.

As for Mike Costanza, I do agree that the personality of George is 100% that of Larry David. Even Mike states this to be true. I think Mike's claims were based on events that happened to him and some other info that is linked strictly to him. It's too bad Mike doesn't have an email address or website where we could ask him questions and find out a bit more about the subject. If anyone knows how to contact him, please share his info. Thanks.

J. Peterman

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PostPosted: February 23, 2005 8:34 PM 

Of course there is the possibility that Mike is lying about his claims to common situations. Kenny Kramer had an indepth conversation with an anonymous messager, who supported Mike; Kramer expounds a theory of opportunism characterizing Mike and gives partial, all though not categorical, evidence. The link is here


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PostPosted: March 3, 2005 5:46 PM 

J. Peterman:

Thanks for the follow-up info. Actually, I'm aware of the website you posted since that's actually where my research began.

One thing that Kenny mentioned was that Larry David did the writing of the show and Jerry wrote the stand-up routines. That's actually partly true. According to IMDB, all of the following people wrote episodes:

Alec Berg writer (15 episodes 1994-1997)
Kit Boss writer (episode "The Maid" 199 Cool
Larry Charles writer (18 episodes 1991-1994)
Andy Cowan writer (episode "The Opposite" 1994)
Jennifer Crittenden writer (6 episodes 1996-199 Cool
Buck Dancer story (episode "The Mango" 1993)
Greg Daniels writer (episode "The Parking Space" 1992)
Larry David written by (62 episodes 1989-1996, 199 Cool
Bobby Farrelly story (episode "The Virgin" 1992)
Peter Farrelly story (episode "The Virgin" 1992)
Spike Feresten writer (10 episodes 1995-199 Cool
Jill Franklyn writer (episode "The Yada Yada" 1997)
Tom Gammill writer (14 episodes 1993-1996)
Matt Goldman writer (episodes "The Robbery" 1990 and "The Stranded" 1991)
Marjorie Gross writer (episodes "The Secretary" 1994, "The Understudy" 1995, "The Fusilli Jerry" 1995, and "The Shower Head" 1996)
Ron Hauge writer (episodes "The Marine Biologist" 1994 and "The Fusilli Jerry" 1995)
Darin Henry writer (6 episodes 1997-199 Cool
Marc Jaffe writer (episodes "The Pick" 1992, "The Limo" 1992, and "The Bookstore" 199 Cool
Jon Jayman writer (episode "The Movie" 1993)
Bruce Eric Kaplan writer (episodes "The Merv Griffin Show" 1997, "The Cartoon" 1998, and "The Puerto Rican Day" 199 Cool
Sam Kass writer (episodes "The Race" 1994 and "The Switch" 1995)
Gregg Kavet writer (13 episodes 1996-199 Cool
Billy Kimball writer (episode "The Strongbox" 199 Cool
Bruce Kirschbaum writer (episodes "The Old Man" 1993, "The Conversion" 1993, and "The Switch" 1995)
Steve Koren writer (5 episodes 1996-199 Cool
Carol Leifer writer (6 episodes 1993-1996)
Tom Leopold writer (episodes "The Cafe" 1991, "The Suicide" 1992, and "The Cheever Letters" 1992)
Larry Levin writer (episode "The Boyfriend, Parts 1 & 2" 1992)
Lawrence H. Levy writer (episode "The Mango" 1993)
Steve Lookner writer (episode "The Wizard" 199 Cool
David Mandel writer (10 episodes 1995-199 Cool
Bill Masters writer (episodes "The Alternate Side" 1991, "The Movie" 1993, and "The Chaperone" 1994)
Don McEnery writer (episode "The Tape" 1991)
Peter Mehlman writer (23 episodes 1991-199 Cool
Steve O'Donnell writer (episode "The Checks" 1996 and "The Pothole" 1997)
Dan O'Keefe writer (6 episodes 1997-199 Cool
Elaine Pope writer (episodes "The Truth" 1991, "The Fix-Up" 1992, and "The Cheever Letters" 1992)
Max Pross writer (14 episodes 1993-1996)
Andy Robin writer (15 episodes 1993-199 Cool
Charlie Rubin writer (episodes "The Marine Biologist" and "The Fusilli Jerry" 1995)
Jeff Schaffer writer (15 episodes 1994-199 Cool
Jerry Seinfeld written by (19 episodes 1990-1996)
Matt Selman writer (episode "The Wait Out" 1996)
Bob Shaw writer (episodes "The Tape" 1991 and "The Chaperone" 1994)
Steve Skrovan writer (episode "The Movie" 1993)
Fred Stoller writer (episodes "The Soup" 1994 and "The Face Painter" 1995)

IMDB lists Jerry as the writer of episodes from 1990-1996. And, even though others wrote other episodes, who says he didn't contribute ideas to them? As we all know, Jerry is very tuned into American trends in culture. He's put into the show all sorts of ideas and phrases that he's picked up. Could Mike's situations be part of those things that Jerry picked up? I don't know but I don't think the idea could be excluded.


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PostPosted: March 4, 2005 7:03 AM 

Did you see the size of that document? It's like the Declaration of Independence, who's gonna read that?


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PostPosted: March 4, 2005 11:20 AM 

I know, it's just more of a reference source to demonstrate that there were alot of writers over the course of the show.


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PostPosted: January 19, 2007 1:03 PM 

As a follow-up, I did manage to read Mike Costanza's book, complete with photos of him and Jerry. Good book for Seinfeld fans.

Then, I was fortunate enough to actually find his phone number and had a great conversation with him. He bears no ill-will towards Jerry and came across as a nice guy.

soda Author Profile Page

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PostPosted: January 19, 2007 3:02 PM 

jimmy, ur one of my favorite people and i dont even know u... u pull the sein references out of thin air.. haha .. "Did you see the size of that document? It's like the Declaration of Independence, who's gonna read that?" hahaha

cousin jeffrey Author Profile Page
Vile Weed

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PostPosted: January 19, 2007 10:28 PM 

well, you're the best...and the worst.

soda Author Profile Page

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PostPosted: January 24, 2007 5:02 PM 

jimmy, can u really mentor me. I have a solid 2.0, and i want to be an architect, not a city planner.

Curly Author Profile Page
Son of Dad

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PostPosted: January 25, 2007 5:27 AM 

What do you do with all those books?

soda Author Profile Page

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PostPosted: January 25, 2007 2:21 PM 

jimmy -- i also know that reading an entire book doesnt prove anything

riley Author Profile Page
Rabid Anti-Dentite

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PostPosted: January 25, 2007 6:03 PM 

With you two at the helm....

soda Author Profile Page

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PostPosted: February 21, 2007 11:18 PM 

back to the orgiginal point --
in the episode "the letter" (just caught it on tv) kramer gets hit in the head with the baseball. he mistakenly calls elaine "carol" -- an obvious shout to carol leifer -- elaine was based on this real like person

later, kramer calls george "mike" --?? i think this is pretty substantial... share your thoughts though

soda Author Profile Page

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PostPosted: February 21, 2007 11:19 PM 

orgignal point = original point*
real like = real life*

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