Life after ‘Seinfeld’

· Oct 2, 2001 Tweet

Somewhere outside the Milky Way, in the direction of Uranus and part of the NBC Galaxy, there is a small group of planets — actors with distinct faces and established careers. But they weren’t always out on their own. Whether they shine brightly today or are mere reflections of the power they once demonstrated, they all revolved around a bigger star that provided life and energy some light years ago — three years ago, to be exact.

The big star: “Seinfeld.” Like his co-stars, though, Jerry’s light has dimmed over the years with their breakup after a nine-year life together.
In 2001, a resurrection of sorts has begun. Jerry returned to do standup after years away from the camera, banning The Badger Herald (and all other media) from his shows.

This week, ABC premiers “Bob Patterson,” supporting-star Jason Alexander’s big return to the little screen and one in a long line of recent successes for part of “Seinfeld’s”Big Four. Later this year, Alexander co-stars with Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow in the new Farrelly Brothers comedy “Shallow Hal.”

Some “Seinfeld” stars and regulars have shared in post-Jerry success, while others have floundered. While some have gone on to carry self-titled sitcoms, others have been stuck in the black hole that is animated voice-overs and television commercials for luxury cars. Here’s a quick look at:

LIFE AFTER JERRY

GEORGE COSTANZA (Jason Alexander): Alexander wins points simply for avoiding the potentially damning title: “The Jason Alexander Show.” Instead, “Bob Patterson” premieres as a sitcom about “a motivational speaker with low self-esteem who has trouble living what he preaches.” Reviews so far have been about as shaky as George’s personality, but it can’t be much worse than the last time we saw Alexander in a big role — “The Adventures of Rocky And Bullwinkle.”

ESTELLE COSTANZA (Estelle Harris): Unbearably recognizable as the voice of Mrs. Potato Head in “Toy Story 2,” she is the voice-acting equivalent to Gilbert Gottfried and may survive for eternity on that alone.

FRANK COSTANZA (Jerry Stiller): Papa Stiller never really needed “Seinfeld” to survive in the first place (you may remember him from “Hairspray” or his turn as Vince Lombardi in a Nike commercial) and he’s doing just fine without it now. Ever heard of a little movie called “Zoolander?” Ladies are lining up to get a piece of those Stiller genes.

SUSAN ROSS (Heidi Swedberg): Getting the axe on a sitcom has got to be hard, but at least Susan had a funny story to go with it — death by envelope glue. Since then, bit appearances in “blockbusters” like “Breast Men” and “Dennis the Menace Strikes Again” haven’t exactly led to superstardom.

ELAINE BENES (Julia Louis-Dreyfus): The most underrated character on the show? You might have thought so; until she tried to go off on her own, that is. Lots of voice acting (“A Bug’s Life,” “Animal Farm”) and lots of TV work (“London Suite,” “Geppetto,” “Animal Farm”) may disprove that theory.

PUDDY (Patrick Warburton): One of the few, the proud, the Spongeworthy, Warburton delivered pleasantly as the voice of Kronk in Disney’s “The Emperor’s New Groove,” has a noticeable part in the upcoming-but-delayed “Big Trouble,” and was even granted the lead in FOX’s live-action reincarnation of “The Tick.” He also appeared on TV commercials for M&M’s and Cadillac Seville and in 2001 he became an unofficial sponsor of Disney’s California Adventure theme park, where his likeness is used before numerous rides.

MR. PETERMAN (John O’Hurley): Like Twinkies and Ho-Hos, the man who played Elaine’s second boss was born with “host” in his blood. Among his 13 regular television roles, O’Hurley has hosted three different shows including the post-“Seinfeld” “To Tell the Truth,” where he gets to hang out with puppets (Kermit the Frog) and sketchy comics (Paula Poundstone). And we all thought “Hollywood Squares” was the hosting gig from hell. You may have also heard O’Hurley’s easily recognizable voice in commercials for Xerox, Cadillac Seville, the Travel Channel and the Cartoon Network.

COSMO KRAMER (Michael Richards): After falling flat on his face with his first solo attempt, “Trial and Error” (the film actually premiered during “Seinfeld’s” final year), Richards was given the standard funny guy, self-titled sitcom: “The Michael Richards Show.” This was possibly the single greatest blunder leading to the elimination of mystique, only to be superceded by Michael Jordan’s second un-retirement.

NEWMAN (Wayne Knight): Funny, it seems pre-Jerry life was better than post-Jerry life for Jerry’s arch nemesis: Neeeeewman. A bit appearance in the recent “Rat Race” and a few voice jobs (“Tarzan,” “Toy Story 2” and it’s spin-off “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command”) have been about all the hefty star has managed on screen, although “Seinfeld” did translate into an equally steady role on the recently kaput “3rd Rock From the Sun.”

FDR (Michael McShane): No, Michael McShane and Wayne Knight are not the same person, nor did either of them play principal Max Anderson (a.k.a. The Revolting Blob) in “Billy Madison.” In fact, McShane is making quite the name for himself post-Jerry, first as a shrink in “Office Space” and later with a hilarious turn in the underrated “Drop Dead Gorgeous.”

MICKY ABBOTT (Danny Woodburn): No matter what the economy’s like, there will always be a need for “little” people like Kramer’s pint-sized sidekick. Abbott’s kept busy with TV’s “Becker” and “Conan,” where he doesn’t have to worry about wearing lifts.

JACKIE CHILES (Phil Morris): For a long time there were rumors of a “Jackie Chiles Show” becoming the first and only “Seinfeld” spin-off. Right. As if the powers that be would ever let that happen. Instead, Morris — best known for his Johnny Cochran-esque lawyer — has been busy with BET movies, TV’s “The Love Boat: The Next Wave,” “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas” and a prominent voice in Disney’s “Atlantis.”

KENNY BANIA (Steve Hytner): There was never anything necessarily mean about Bania, he just tried too hard … way too hard. Lately, Hytner’s been trying hard to keep at work with bit parts in “Love Stinks,” “Forces of Nature” and “Face/Off.”

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This article was published Oct 2, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Oct 2, 2001 at 12:00 am

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