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Something Or Nothing?

With the last installment of 'Seinfeld' being completed today, everyone from fans to cast members has ideas about how the series should end.

April 08, 1998|LAURA ACCINELLI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

So, Jerry marries Elaine, George comes out and Kramer gets Eastern religion and hits the road--a doofus in a dhoti, ministering to a troubled world. Or, in a fit of collective self-pity, they all drive Jerry's odor-free European sedan off a pier and into the Hudson. Or, they don't do anything at all.

Most everyone is clueless about the last "Seinfeld" episode, which is completing filming today for its May 14 airing; the plot is as closely guarded as the Coca-Cola recipe. Secrecy, of course, has spawned speculation, which falls into three main schools. Romantics want a happy ending and pessimists anticipate some offbeat cataclysm. Both are hoping that finally, illogically, something will come out of TV's most celebrated nothing.

The third alternative is stasis. No changes from within or solutions from without, just more of the same. Yada-yada-yada.

Liz Carey, an American Airlines employee from Marina del Rey, wants Elaine and Jerry to be together. "That's how the show started and that's how it should end." Like most romantics, Carey is resigned to disappointment. "I know they'll probably go their separate ways," she says, "but it breaks my heart."

Alex DeOcampo favors a flame-out. "My friends and I, we talk about 'Seinfeld' all the time," says the Cal State Northridge business student. "Basically, we think they should all die. They should all drive off a cliff together, then it will be easy to remember what happened--'Seinfeld'? Oh yeah, they all died. That's a shame."

While a road-movie ending would be an unlikely conclusion to stationary lives, romantics have reason to be nervous. After all, Jerry Seinfeld and co-creator Larry David have killed before. Remember George's fiancee, Susan, who died licking the toxic glue on Costanza's cheap wedding invitations?

Some fans worry that "Seinfeld" will end in gory closure. "You can't say Elaine, gone; Jerry, gone; George, gone; Kramer, gone," says custodial worker Tina Brauner, who won a trip to a recent "Seinfeld" filming from her local radio station in Louisville, Ky. "People can't accept that. That would be the wrong thing to do."

"I want no sadness," says George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees--the real Steinbrenner, that is, not the cranky solipsist who gave George--bald, loser George--a Yankee job. Killing Susan was "sick," Steinbrenner says. Killing anyone else would be "very sick."

"I don't want anything to happen to Costanza," Steinbrenner says. "I don't want to see anything happen to any of them. I don't want to see anything but a smile and a laugh, because the show has been one damn big laugh after another." Yes, Mr. Steinbrenner. "I want a smile and a laugh. That's the way I want to remember those people, happy and with a laugh." Right, Mr. Steinbrenner.

Fans know that "Seinfeld" is capricious. They're also aware that the biggest threat to TV Jerry comes from Real Jerry. The "Seinfeld" writers can do anything to the "Seinfeld" characters.

"I would be very angry if they hurt these people," says Carl Reiner, writer, director, comedian, sitcom veteran. "I don't want to see them dead in reruns. They killed off Archie Bunker's wife in 'All in the Family' and it was one of the dumbest things I've seen."

Reiner riffs on a final story line: The gang's in Vegas; Jerry and Elaine, "not being in their proper minds," find themselves at a wedding chapel and think, "Hey, let's try it"; the ever-suggestible Kramer promptly marries the first girl he sees; George is left, everybody's uncle.

"You leave a tag on it at the end," Reiner says. "Elaine is questioning. Jerry didn't say forever. There could be a reunion show two years later."

Jay Leno dismisses this scenario. "Jerry Seinfeld doesn't think that way," says Leno, a longtime fan. "Look, you don't go this far and turn down gazillions of dollars and suddenly wind up doing what all the network executives want.

"No one is going to get married or have a baby, none of the usual tricks," Leno predicts. "It will end the way it began--very funny--and whatever happens will be in character."

*

No alien abductions, then, or spontaneous combustions. Nothing too preposterous like personal growth, for example. What Seinologists of the realist school want from the Last Episode is an imagined future consistent with the neurotic history of the show's main characters.

"Life will go on for the four of them," says Liz Sheridan, Jerry's mother in "Seinfeld." "I think they will grow old together, unhappily. They'll all move to Florida and buy condos next to each other so they will always end up at each other's door."

As for Newman, actor Wayne Knight thinks that it would be "fitting that in the end Newman gets Jerry's apartment."

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