Hit NBC sitcom ‘Seinfeld’ might have been a show about nothing, but as we see it, the cast made a lot more than nothing. With the show still going strong on-screen, are the ‘Seinfeld’ actors still getting royalties? Let’s see what the report says!
It’s no joke that ‘Seinfeld’ had given the first nudge to the pop-culture phenomenon ‘Friends’. The NBC comedy about four friends just hanging out is still running strong even after a decade and more. Given its popularity, then and now, it could be assumed that NBC as well as the actors have earned quite a few dollars from the show. Keeping in mind that the ‘Seinfeld’ reruns have not dropped but raised the show’s bar, we arrive at the question: Are the ‘Seinfeld’ actors still getting royalties?
- ‘Seinfeld’ actors made big off the show
- Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David made more clams
- Are the ‘Seinfeld’ actors getting royalties for re-runs?
‘Seinfeld’ actors made big off the show
Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David together created the pilot for NBC’s ‘Seinfeld’ (originally named ‘The Seinfeld Chronicles’) in 1989. The show was picked up, and what the 20th century received was a pop-culture icon that ran for nine seasons with unfailing popularity and support. Over its long course of runtime, ‘Seinfeld’ stood out as one of the most successful shows in the history of the Hollywood syndicate, bringing home over four billion dollars. The lead actors had also pocketed an insane amount of the show’s profits.
By the time ‘Seinfeld’ had reached its final season, the actors were getting royalties that were unimaginable at the time. Jerry Seinfeld, being the show’s goose that laid golden eggs, was receiving 1 million dollars per episode by the final season. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, and Jason Alexander were making about 600,000 dollars per episode.
In fact, it seems that Jerry Seinfeld had turned down projects worth a hundred million dollars, just so he could continue doing his sitcom for another season. If you haven’t got it by now, Seinfeld turned down such projects because he was already covered financially, perhaps, a little too much. Rather, he had made so much off the show that he would never have to work for his life. EVER!
Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David made more clams
While everything might look sweet and warm about ‘Seinfeld’ to the naked eye, the truth is that a rift had formed between the actors regarding the differences in the royalty amount each of them was getting. Things grew nasty among the ‘Seinfeld’ stars regarding payment disparities since Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, being the show’s creator, made significantly more than the others. It meant that Seinfeld and David would be making a royalty amount close to millions or more for probably the rest of their lives, given the show’s popularity. This did not sit well with the other members of the cast leading to some complications.
Jason Alexander, the actor who played Seinfeld’s best friend, George Costanza, said,
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.
Inevitably, a rift was created between Seinfeld and the other three actors. Jason Alexander even confirmed telling Seinfeld,
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.
However, because the actors barring Seinfeld were kept from getting the royalties, they renegotiated their contracts for the final season that made sure they were paid 1 million dollars per episode.
Are the ‘Seinfeld’ actors getting royalties for re-runs?
Since actors Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards do not own stake in ‘Seinfeld’, they are kept from getting royalties from reruns. The trio receives a cut from the DVD sales and the SAG-AFTRA residuals. However, that is not even half of what Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David make from the reruns, which is close to about 400 million dollars per year.
A CNBC report said,
“Seinfeld’s cut comes to about a whopping $400 million over that time period. Even if we only count the seasons for which we know Jerry’s salary, that means that “Seinfeld”, has earned him at least $440 million, or about $30,000 for every line he ever delivered on the show”.
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