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Jason Alexander To Try TV Again

Jason Alexander
Cincinnati Pops
Jason Alexander
Jason Alexander
Credit Cincinnati Pops
Jason Alexander

Tony-winner and former “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander hasn’t given up on TV. Despite two sitcom failures since “Seinfeld” – ABC’s “Bob Patterson” (2001) and CBS’ “Listen Up” (2004-05), Alexander says he’s preparing to pitch TV programmers another TV series.

“We’re taking a series idea out (soon)…. I think it would be great fun to have another one,” says Alexander, 55, who performs his favorite Broadway tunes with the Cincinnati Pops March 4-6 at Music Hall. Alexander won the Tony for best actor in a musical for “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” in 1989, before NBC premiered “The Seinfeld Chronicles.”

When I interviewed Alexander about the Pops performance for WVXU-FM’s “Around Cincinnati,” to air at  7 p.m. Sunday, he told me about plans for another TV comeback.  He also talked about possibly directing a movie; teaching; directing an award-winning music video for Brad Paisely; and a theater production he wants to take to Broadway.

He didn’t say “Seinfeld curse” – which I don’t believe in, given the success of Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep," “The New Adventures of Old Christine”), co-creator Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Fish In the Dark”) and Seinfeld (“Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee) – but he started by talking about why his ABC and CBS comedies didn’t stick.

"Seinfeld" stars Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Jerry Seinfeld.
Credit NBC
"Seinfeld" stars Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Jerry Seinfeld.

"The two follow-up series to ‘Seinfeld’ (1989-98) were not successful, I think, for a variety of reasons, but at the end of (the day), they were just not successful. It re-proves the truth that television is just hard to do, and it’s even harder now to do because there is much more of it…. It’s also harder to grab an audience, a substantial audience. The audience’s attention is so fractured, there are so many choices, almost to the point of being a glut of choices, that it’s very hard…

“(TV) is a total crap shoot, because you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, really. If you have a cast and writers, these people are all new to you. You don’t know if you’re going to enjoy each other. You don’t know if they’re going to work well together. So it’s all a little daunting. However, that said, I think it would be great fun to have another one, especially one that makes some noise.

Would you pitch the series to broadcast networks, cable or online programmers?

“All of the above.  Particularly with this idea, I don’t think it works as well with the confines of a network show. This would be more of a cable or a streaming show. And frankly, almost any actor you talk to today is very excited about the world of streaming because it has far more creative freedom, and you also know your fate fairly quickly."

We’re kind of in another Golden Age of Television, as we were in the 1990s with “Seinfeld,” “Cheers,” “Friends,” “ER” on NBC’s “Must See TV” line-up, aren’t we?

“You bet! And particularly in the drama world, there is so much exquisitely fine drama work being done now.  There are some very good comedies, but as a comedic actor, comedy is just harder. It’s harder than drama.

“So to get a very good comedy is very hard. And the ones that are really breaking through right now are alternative comedies. They’re almost like sketch comedy shows, like ‘Key & Peele’ and “Inside Amy Schumer’ and ‘Portlandia.’ They’re not your standard: Here’s one group of characters, and we go to their situation, and we laugh at them week after week. It’s much harder to do that. It’s almost becoming a dying breed.”

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.

John Kiesewetter joined the WVXU news team as a TV/Media blogger on July 1 2015, after nearly 30 years covering local and national broadcasting for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be posting news about Greater Cincinnati TV, radio and movies; updating your favorite former local TV/radio personalities or stars who grew up here; and breaking news about national TV, radio and media trends. You’ll also learn about Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting history.