Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Seinfeld": "The Comeback"

As I mentioned briefly in the introduction to this blog, this 1997 episode finds George Costanza (Jason Alexander) belatedly thinking of a comeback to a joke made by another Yankees staffer. When he finds out the staffer has gone to work for Firestone in Akron, George goes there to offer his snappy rejoinder. Which, of course, isn't all that snappy. And the show got some things wrong about Akron. After the jump, a 1997 Beacon Journal article by Glenn Gamboa about the episode.
Here's the article:
Sometimes, fiction is a stranger to truth.
As the buzz about the city's surprise inclusion in the ultra-hip sitcom Seinfeld on Thursday night wore down yesterday, Akronites turned up the attention on some points the show didn't get exactly right.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
In case you missed it, the show went something like this: Jerry's neurotic pal George eats a lot of shrimp during a New York Yankees board meeting. Some guy makes fun of him and then takes a job in Akron working for Firestone.
George is demoralized, but comes up with a snappy retort. He flies to Akron to zing the guy. George meets with executives at Firestone. He zings. He gets zung. He goes home.
All right, so it wasn't too realistic.
Yeah, jumbo jets don't fly into Akron airports very often.
OK, Firestone doesn't have a board of directors any more. And its parent company, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., left Akron for Nashville, Tenn., in 1992.
Sure, the room where George met the Firestone board was as big as some closets in the executive suites over on Firestone Parkway.
Does it really matter?
"I think it's an honor," said Mark Williamson, communications director for the city of Akron. "One of the only times Seinfeld leaves the neighborhood, they come to Akron. What more can you ask for?"
Trevor Hoskins, Bridgestone/Firestone's senior vice president, didn't mind, either. He said the company was happy to help the show's creators.
"The reaction to the Seinfeld program has been tremendous from both our employees and our customers," said Hoskins. "They're absolutely delighted with the recognition. And the wonderful thing about this is that it was free."
Even though more and more companies pay filmmakers to place their products or logos in their movies, Bridgestone/Firestone didn't pay a cent.
It did, however, lend them a Firestone sign that hung in the meeting room.
Even though Firestone was purchased by Tokyo-based Bridgestone Corp. in 1988, the company believed it was OK to use the Firestone name in the Seinfeld context.
"We were once a leading tire company in Akron," said Hoskins. "And we chose to give them the Firestone sign because it fit better with Akron and the origins of the company. When a program of the quality and popularity of Seinfeld calls up, we wanted to do whatever we could."
Seinfeld's writers contacted Bridgestone/Firestone about using the company for the episode about three weeks ago, said Hoskins. However, the company did not let its employees know about the mention ahead of time.
"We didn't advise anyone that we were going to do it because you never know if it will happen until it does," said Hoskins.
The result, Hoskins said, was a load of calls from thrilled employees and customers yesterday.
"It's generated more phone calls and good will than projects that involved much more planning," said Hoskins.
Even at NBC affiliate WKYC (Channel 3), where a lot of energy is going into preparations for next weekend's NBA All-Star Game, the Seinfeld-Akron connection caught some people by surprise.
And they weren't the only ones.
Thursday's Seinfeld was seen in 23.9 percent of Northeast Ohio homes on Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC (Channel 3), according to overnight Nielsen ratings. That's about par for the series, which had a 22.5 rating the previous week, and was not even the most-watched show on Channel 3 that night; ER had a 30.3 rating.
And it was also well behind the 35 rating for The Drew Carey Show on ABC affiliate WEWS (Channel 5) on Wednesday.
But former Clevelander Carey's show -- which showcased other Cleveland mainstays, among them Mayor Michael White, former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar and comic Martin Mull -- was promoted so relentlessly on Channel 5 that one wag dubbed it "DrewsChannel 5."
Seinfeld added to a week's worth of evidence that Northeast Ohio has become the center of the television universe.
Both Carey's show and NBC's hit 3rd Rock From the Sun are set here, and Carey was a guest star on Tuesday's episode of Home Improvement.
Carey's show, which also featured several Akron references, was another feather in the city's cap, said Williamson.
"You have people mentioning Akron on two of the most popular TV shows in the country at a time of year when a lot of people are watching TV," he said. "That's great.".

No comments:

Post a Comment