For Millennials. By Millennials.
When it comes to the financial side of Hollywood, things can get a little messy. And it can cause a lot of rifts between co-stars and staff members. Sadly, NBC’s hit sitcom Seinfeld was no different when co-stars learned how much Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David made out of the show.
Seinfeld did benefit everyone on the show, which includes Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards. But, it may have benefitted creators Larry and Jerry more than the others. Quite a lot more.
How Seinfeld became such a huge success
Now that we have the benefit of hindsight, we know why Seinfeld turned out to be such a huge success. But back at the time, there really wasn’t any show like it. It was a huge gamble to make a show about nothing, that revolved around 4 incredible characters and their day-to-day lives. For it to be a success, they had to make those characters extremely likable. And the co-creators Seinfeld and David delivered in that department.
What’s even funnier is that the two conceived the idea of the show while making fun of people as they were sitting in a restaurant. That itself sounds pretty much like a Seinfeld episode. And so came into existence a revolution of television.
Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David made huge profits from the show!
Now, Seinfeld and David were the co-creators of the show. That meant that the two would continue to earn hundreds of millions in royalties for many years to come. However, this led to some bitterness among the rest of the cast members of the show. Jason Alexander, who played George Costanza, said, according to The Globe and Mail:
“Julia, Michael, and I, during our big renegotiation 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. We make very little, standard Screen Actors Guild residuals for the reruns.”
How the rest of the cast renegotiated their contracts
Now, because they were denied royalties, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards decided to renegotiate their contracts for the final season of the show. They demanded $1 million per episode, which may sound a lot, but it pales in comparison to what Jerri Seinfeld and Larry David made in royalties. So, NBC agreed to the contracts. As Alexander said:
“We made a deal that was acceptable to us. We got paid very handsomely for our final season. It was in the pool of profit for NBC to give us those salaries.”
Despite the increase, Alexander and the cast still felt that it wasn’t enough. And when you compare it to $400 million Jerry Seinfeld earned in royalties, it does feel like it isn’t enough. As Alexander said:
“I’m not ashamed to talk numbers. 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.”