- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2002

While Michael Richards, Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus scramble to forge careers post-"Seinfeld," the show's eponymous star appears in no rush to reinvent himself.

Jerry Seinfeld has not signed any three-picture deal or penned a tell-all tome about his days on the NBC smash sitcom. Instead, he settled down with public relations executive Jessica Sklar and became a father to 1-year-old Sascha. Occasionally, the stand-up comic performs his routine at tony venues around the country.

The Kennedy Center is the latest stop on his casual comedy tour. He will give four sold-out performances, two per evening tonight and tomorrow at the performing arts center in Northwest.

Before "Seinfeld," Mr. Seinfeld toiled in the stand-up trenches, pelting audiences with amusing and clean asides about airline food and relationship woes.

Like fellow comics Drew Carey, Roseanne and Brett Butler, he eventually landed his own television show. "The Seinfeld Chronicles" began in 1989, drawing critical praise but few viewers. Producers lopped off the "chronicles" tag, and slowly fans discovered its intricately interlocked tales of neurotic Jerry, pathetic George, manic Elaine and the hyperkinetic Kramer.

The "show about nothing" prevailed as something special for millions of viewers, culminating in 76 million glued to its final episode.

"Seinfeld's" impact upon pop culture is undeniable. From "yada yada yada" to "the Soup Nazi," its slogans and characters remain etched in our collective consciousness. Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream even named one of its flavors Festivus, a tribute to a made-up holiday from a "Seinfeld" episode.

Since "Seinfeld" went off the air in 1998, the show's supporting players all sought and were granted sitcoms of their own. Two failed miserably (Mr. Richards' "The Michael Richards Show" and Mr. Alexander's "Bob Patterson"), and Miss Louis-Dreyfus' attempt, an untitled sitcom already gaining sour buzz, has yet to debut.

Mr. Seinfeld's past three years have been far less busy, professionally.

He bade farewell to his old material with an HBO special and a compact disc release, "I'm Telling You for the Last Time." He popped up in a few commercials, provided a guest voice for UPN's now-canceled "Dilbert" and appeared in spots for pal Mr. Alexander's doomed sitcom.

Little is known of just what kind of career Mr. Seinfeld aspires to, now that his show resides in rerun perpetuity.

He doesn't talk to the press much these days.

Perhaps the comic's professional road post-"Seinfeld" will be less bumpy since he does not have an image with which to compete. On "Seinfeld," he essentially played himself, while his colleagues concocted distinct personalities from which they must distance themselves.

Time, and audiences, will tell if Mr. Seinfeld can forge the kind of enduring stand-up career his boyhood idol, Bill Cosby, crafted in between television and film projects.

Despite Mr. Cosby's wealth, the affable entertainer continues to resonate with audiences as a family man who struggles with common challenges.

Mr. Seinfeld drew gossip hounds last year when he bought a Long Island home from Billy Joel for just less than $40 million.

Will audiences buy airline quips from a man who likely hasn't flown coach in a decade? More important, his challenge is to reconnect with audiences since he became a sitcom icon, a mantle no amount of snappy jokes will ever be able to hide.


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