Seinfeld's back and ABC's got him.
ABC confirmed that it has cut a deal to make a pilot for a comedy series based on the "Letters From a Nut" books--collections of sophomoric letters written to corporate bigwigs, politicians, celebrities and others easily skewered, and the targets' equally ridiculous responses.
The three "Nut" books--"Letters From a Nut," "More Letters From a Nut" and "Extra Nutty! Even More Letters From a Nut"--were written by one Ted L. Nancy, who is described on the jacket of one of the books only as "a citizen" in Thousand Oaks.
Each book has an introduction by Jerry Seinfeld, a fact ABC noted in the first sentence of its news release announcing the deal.
It is widely thought that Nancy is Seinfeld. Various reporters who have tried to track down Nancy since the first book was published in 1997 have located only a post office box.
Though Seinfeld has repeatedly denied being the pseudonymous author, he also claims that he, for no financial gain, got the letters published. He says he found them on a friend's coffee table while watching the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon in 1995, an explanation that sounds suspiciously like a rejected story line from a "Seinfeld" script.
And Seinfeld has compared his relationship with Nancy to that of Clark Kent and Superman.
And during the pitch meeting at ABC, network Senior Vice President Andrea Wong confirmed, Seinfeld was present.
And Ted Nancy?
"Oh yeah, and Ted Nancy, I guess," she added.
But Wong insisted that Seinfeld has no commitment to the show and attended the meeting only because he's "very supportive of the project" and a pal of one of the executive producers, Barry Marder.
ABC says Nancy will be one of the show's executive producers. But Marder, not Nancy, is writing the pilot script.
Among Nancy's published letters was one he wrote to the Baseball Hall of Fame asking if it was interested in Mickey Mantle's toenail clippings. He wrote a Vegas casino asking if he could gamble there dressed in his lucky shrimp costume, asked Coca-Cola Co. if he could market a beverage called Kiet Doke, and wrote to the Los Angeles Lakers asking if he could attend games in pants that had the back seat cut out for medical reasons. They all responded: yes, no, no, yes, respectively.
ABC says each episode of the new show will open with the voice of the real Nancy composing a new letter, though viewers will never see him. Nancy's "lovable, idiotic friends and relatives," whom the real Nancy--assuming you believe there is a real Nancy--will send out into the world to see what responses his letters have elicited, will be cast actors, the network acknowledged.
Wong says she's met Nancy, but when we asked coyly if he was "Seinfeldesque," she replied cautiously, "I can't say what he looks like; he is a very unique individual with a very interesting take on the world."
So we asked point-blank if Seinfeld is Nancy.
"I cannot tell you that," she said. "A lot of people think he is."