Jason Alexander Admitted Seinfeld Backend Profits Caused A Rift Among The Cast


Highlights

  • Jerry Seinfeld refused $110 million for another season, ready to move on to other projects.
  • Seinfeld’s main cast didn’t receive backend profits, causing tension and regrets among co-stars.
  • Jason Alexander and co-stars earned far less than Jerry Seinfeld from Seinfeld residuals and syndication.


Seinfeld is a still-loved show that aired for nine seasons, from 1989 until its finale in 1998. The show was still popular when it ended, and millions tuned in for the finale. Some wanted the show to continue, and Seinfeld star and co-creator Jerry Seinfeld even turned down $110 million without thinking twice for another season, but he refused, ready to move on to other projects.

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The Seinfeld cast noticeably struggled to recreate the same success the ’90s sitcom achieved.

The show’s cast was incredibly popular, and Jerry Seinfeld himself became the highest-paid actor on television while Seinfeld was on the air. The rest of the main cast earned high amounts, but not as much as Jerry Seinfeld.

During negotiations for the final season, the cast was denied a percentage of backend profits, and they asked for high salaries. Jason Alexander admitted Seinfeld’s backend profits caused a rift on the show.



Jason Alexander’s Backend Profits Were Slashed After He Took A Higher Salary For Seinfeld

Jason Alexander and the Seinfeld cast
Via: The Things

Seinfeld‘s continued popularity has earned its creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld massive incomes. Considering the show would not exist without Jerry Seinfeld, it’s no surprise he made more than his co-stars. Still, many would expect Seinfeld’s three co-stars to have earned high profits also, considering their popularity. But while Jerry Seinfeld still makes millions from the show, his co-stars are making little in comparison.

Seinfeld‘s cast earned high salaries during filming, and have continued to earn profits from the show since it ended. However, co-creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, (also a cast member), have earned significantly more than Seinfeld’s co-stars: Jason Alexander (George Costanza), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine Benes) and Michael Richards (Kramer).


Alexander said that he would always regret that he, Louis-Dreyfus, and Richards were refused “back-end participation in profits” for Seinfeld. Of the main cast, only Jerry Seinfeld received a share of the show’s royalties. His three co-stars negotiated for $1 million per episode, but they missed out on much more. They received $600,000 per episode, earning them millions for the show’s last season, but were denied any ownership in backend profits from the show.

Alexander regretted that he and his co-stars weren’t allowed what they really wanted: a percentage of the show’s backend profits.

“Julia, Michael and I, during our big negotiation 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,” Alexander said.


Alexander added, “I said to Jerry when he made the decision years ago not to 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,” per The Mail and Globe.

Jerry Seinfeld’s Pay For The Series Caused Tension

From the first season of Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld earned more than his fellow cast members; he was also paid as one of the show’s creators. In season one, Seinfeld made $20,000, and his salary continued to increase until he earned $1 million an episode in season nine. When his co-stars negotiated their pay for Seinfeld‘s last season, they were denied what they really desired – a percentage of the show’s backend profits.

The cast members of Seinfeld have earned varying amounts from the show since it ended. Jerry Seinfeld increased 7.5 percent ownership of the show’s residuals to 15 percent, has earned a ton of money with the show’s reruns, and being sold into syndication, including streaming platforms like Netflix.


Jerry Seinfeld
via NBC

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Jason Alexander, said he, Julia Louis-Drefus and Michael Richards were refused a percentage Seinfeld’s backend profits, and instead “make very little, standard Screen Actors Guild residuals for the reruns,” he added.

“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,” per BestLife.

There Was A Dispute Concerning Cast Participation In The DVDs

The cast of Seinfeld looking serious
Via: NBC


Jason Alexander also said problems arose between Seinfeld and his co-stars when they were asked to do extra work for DVD releases, and initially refused. With Seinfeld being released on DVD, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards were asked to provide commentary and interviews. Per BestLife the trio told the New York Times through a representative “that Castle Rock executives ‘were only willing to give a small recording fee to the three of them and not a piece of the action.'”

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


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The Shallow Hal actor added that the Seinfeld‘s continued popularity prevented him from getting cast at times. “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.”

He added, “You have not made me a participant in the life of this show, therefore I am not inclined to give you these services.”

The cast eventually reached a deal and participated in the DVD commentary. However, had they been allowed to negotiate and own some percentage of the backend profits of the sitcom, there’s no doubt they would have felt much more invested in the continuing success of Seinfeld after its conclusion.



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