Much of the inspired lunacy on "Seinfeld" does not translate as comically in print. After all, how do you capture in words and still photos Kramer's rubber-limbed entrances into Jerry's apartment, the slow boil behind "Hello, Newman," or the rumba-swinging scene in which Kramer helps the fleshy Mr. Costanza slip into a "manssiere"?
But as the staff of Entertainment Weekly was thrilled to learn last week, all things Seinfeld can be captured and published with award-winning respect. Managing editor James W. Seymore Jr. accepted one of EW's two National Magazine Awards for its 26-page viewers' guide last May on the first 148 episodes. The judges said that EW's "obsessive-compulsive report" on the show proved that "Seinfeld's" "about much more than nothing."
The project had so consumed the staffers, Seymore told the audience, that they "counted the number of times that Kramer came to the door" (252).
Now, there's much more "Seinfeld" mania in print, besides Newsweek's recent account of the final taping and Vanity Fair's May cover story ("Jerry's Last Stand"), as the popular sitcom prepares to offer its concluding episode next week.
Kramer will have swung through that door to Jerry's apartment a total of 284 times by the end of tonight's next-to-last episode (No. 167), EW notes in a special stand-alone issue on the show ("So Long, Seinfeld! The Definitive Viewer's Guide") that went on sale this week. Kramer's entrance is a plot device only slightly less familiar than the 286 times that cast members have met at Monk's Cafe for sandwiches, coffee and at least one hostile order of clams casino.
Ford Motor Co. is the sole advertiser in the special issue, which will remain on sale for three months. EW guaranteed the car maker that the stand-alone would have a paid circulation of 1.5 million--150,000 more than a regular issue--because of heightened interest expected at newsstands and supermarket checkouts that should bring the total of single-copy sales to 263,000.
TV Guide also is staking a claim as "Seinfeld's" Boswell with "Seinfeld Forever: The Ultimate Fact-Filled Farewell Guide to America's No. 1 Comedy," a special edition that the digest-sized publication has published in a standard-sized format. Distribution: 800,000 copies.
TV Guide shows its own obsessive-compulsive tendencies beyond the requisite episode-by-episode synopses. It gathered 23 of Jerry's TV girlfriends for a couple of drop-dead-gorgeous group shots and 11 of "The Usual Suspects" from the show, including Sue Ellen Mischke (played by Brenda Strong) and the annoying Kenny Bania (Stephen Hytner), in a funny prison lineup. Plus, there are recipes for black-and-white cookies (episode No. 74) and a loaf of marble rye (No. 115).
In addition, TV Guide's regular weekly issue (dated May 9-15) comes in four different covers--of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer, each of them drawn by the artist Al Hirschfeld. (Collect all four, watch them grow in value as a complete set, and make the down payment on a retirement condo in Del Boca Vista West, Fla.)
People magazine, which counts the show's Julia Louis-Dreyfus n this week's annual "50 Most Beautiful People" roundup, may cover the "Seinfeld" countdown in the weekly issue that comes out Friday. People then plans to follow next Thursday's final episode with a "Seinfeld" tribute issue that will be available on newsstands only, competing with the stand-alone of sister mag EW.
Among the books positioned to take advantage of "Seinfeld" mania are David Wild's "Seinfeld: The Totally Unauthorized Tribute (not that there's anything wrong with that)," published by the Three
Rivers Press division of Crown Publishers, and Greg Gattuso's "The Seinfeld Universe: The Entire Domain," from Citadel Press. Wild is a senior editor with Rolling Stone; Gattuso is editor and publisher of Nothing: The Newsletter for Seinfeld Fans.
Inside the TV Guide special, an ad says: "There's still a reason to go on living." It's for Jerry Seinfeld's own "Seinlanguage" (Bantam), a collection of comic observations that became a longtime bestseller after its release in hardcover five years ago and set in motion the ceaseless trend of comedians as book writers. (Next up, also from Bantam: Ray Romano, the star of CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond," who is doing a book for the fall.)
Bantam reports that it has shipped an additional 350,000 paperback copies of "Seinlanguage" since March, raising the total number in print to more than 2.1 million.
Keeping Score on Mag Awards: The fabled fact-checking department of the New Yorker has amended a figure that was announced at last week's gathering for the National Magazine Awards.
Correction: The number of awards given for work edited by Tina Brown, who became editor of the New Yorker in September 1992, is now 14. Four of those awards were earned during her earlier stint as editor in chief of Vanity Fair.