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Seinfeld's Finale: the 'Internet Scripts'

Dateline: 04/08/98

Will all the cast members die, or will they move en masse to Los Angeles? (Is there a difference?) Will Jerry and Elaine get married, or will the latter finally "come out" as a lesbian? Will George get his "dream job" as a TV critic? Will Kramer go bicoastal?

Any or all of the above may happen in the final episode of Seinfeld, if we can trust information currently circulating on the Internet.

Which is as much as to say: none of the above are likely to happen.

As the May 14 finale of the most popular American TV comedy of the '90s approaches, the only authoritative information to leak out of NBC so far is that viewership is expected to be so huge that 30-second commercial spots are being sold for a record-breaking $2 million each.

"The Super Bowl happens once a year," NBC Entertainment President Warren Littlefield told USA Today. "A show like Seinfeld going off the air is once in a decade."

Promotional hype aside, NBC has had very little to say about the one-hour special episode itself, least of all its story line.

By contrast, fan newsletters, the New York tabloids, and, of course, the Internet have been awash with hearsay about the contents of the last episode ever since the show's demise was announced in January. Flouting NBC's "Pentagon-style secrecy," individuals claiming to be in the know are even circulating allegedly authentic plot outlines via email and Internet forums. At least one of these so-called "Internet scripts" found its way into the mainstream media last month when Howard Stern "exposed" it on his radio show and the New York Daily News published parts of it verbatim.

The L.A. scenario – the one that fooled Howard Stern – has the entire cast moving out to the west coast, where Jerry becomes the host of a TV variety show, Elaine moves in with her new boyfriend, George lands a job as a TV critic, and Kramer is signed to star in a TV sitcom.

Although it doesn't exactly sparkle with wit, the outline of the L.A. story is just clever enough and sufficiently sprinkled with recognizable Seinfeldisms to seem vaguely authentic on first reading, which may explain why network publicists and Seinfeld staffers have gone to the trouble of publicly trashing it. NBC called the scenario "way off the mark." Series co-creator Larry David added that it was "obviously the result of a mental patient with time on his hands."

In Internet postings concerning the scenario, Seinfeld fans haven't been much kinder in their evaluation of it. The consensus so far is that the story feels more like a setup for the continuation of the series than a final curtain, plus it lacks the one feature everyone seems quite sure really will be part of the series finale, namely the return of several minor characters who have appeared in past episodes.

A rival plot line [via DejaNews] has Jerry winning $10 million in the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes and buying Cadillacs for the whole gang. Following various complications (including a jaunt to Paris!), Jerry realizes he's still in love with Elaine, proposes, and the two end up getting hitched at a ceremony presided over by George, who has become an ordained minister by mail-order.

This scenario is amazingly detailed, considering it's based on secondhand information. "My barber is Len Lesser's (Uncle Leo) barber," reads the preamble, "and this is what Len told the barber. (I also heard somewhat of a similar story from a friend at Columbia, so it's got to be close.)"

Presumably, said barber spends more time taking notes than cutting hair.

In yet another story outline, this one making the leap from the tabloids to the Internet instead of the other way around, we find George on the verge of committing suicide by jumping out a first-story window... only to back out when a bird defecates on his head. Things go downhill from there, as: Elaine announces she is marrying a woman; Kramer becomes Merv Griffin's butler; and Jerry is stalked by all of his ex-girlfriends at once.

Or how about this contender: Elaine eats some bad fish at a restaurant where George is about to propose to her, then dies. "But in a strange plot twist," the story continues, "George sees Kramer with both Susan [George's former fiance who died from licking stamps] and Elaine and they are alive. 'Amazing!' George yells. 'I drive them to death, he brings them back!'"

The author who posted this notably disjointed and unfunny scenario in the alt.tv.seinfeld newsgroup claimed to have heard it from a cousin who "has a friend whose wife is friends with one of the writers of Seinfeld."

As we all know, there's no more reliable source than a friend of a friend.

All this speculation will become moot on May 14, of course, when the actual final episode (which began filming today) airs on NBC. Unlikely as it is that the network will release the story line in advance, it's safe to assume that "authoritative" rumors will continue to fly, yet we'll still be without a single, reliable clue as to what's really going to happen in the episode right up until air time.

Count me among those who prefer it that way.

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