A Date with George
Never in history has a man who proposed incest with his cousin, accidentally killed his fiancée and ate pastries out of the trash been so admired -- nay, worshiped. But Americans love them some George Louis Costanza, perhaps the greatest weasel of all time, played brilliantly from 1990 to 1998 by Jason Alexander on Seinfeld.
It may be a little disappointing to fans of "the show about nothing," however, that Alexander is almost nothing like his most famous alter ego. He's an accomplished performer-writer-producer-director; he's won Tony and Emmy awards; and now he's even penned a children's book called Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy?. The tale is based on a real-life conversation that Alexander had with his son, Gabriel. Alexander concocts a story about dodo birds and unicorns (how un-George is that?) to assuage Gaby's concerns that the tooth fairy is a sham. He'll read from Dad when he visits Houston for the 33rd annual Jewish Book & Arts Fair, which runs through this weekend.
"I didn't set out to write a children's book," he says. "I really was just patting myself on the back for having a good parent day." (Now that sounds like George.) "I realized I wanted to share this with parents," he adds. "And it needed to have truth in it to say to the parent, 'think about this.' " Alexander, who's quite the fan of politics, is also working on a book in which he's assassinated while running for president. "It's a question of who did it, because I would've offended so many people, they all would've wanted me dead," he says with a laugh.
He'll also close out the Jewish Book & Arts Fair with an hour-long program called "An Evening with Jason Alexander." In a decidedly Seinfeldian twist, this too may turn out to be a "show about nothing." "Can you tell me what it'll be like?" he asks. "I'm not sure what'll happen, but I can say it will be very loosey-goosey, with some meaningless stories about my life that, hopefully, are amusing. I guess I have to actually speak for a while. But I'd rather just say to the audience, 'Hey, what do you want to talk about?' "
No doubt, they'll want to talk Seinfeld. Like, does Alexander hang out with co-stars Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards and Julia Louis-Dreyfus? (He sees Louis-Dreyfus the most.) Or, is he surprised at the show's insane popularity? ("I'm surprised the show ran," he admits. "Once I got over my shock that we actually became a hot show, nothing else shocks me anymore.") Or hey, isn't there some George in Jason?
"The people who spend time with me anticipating the kind of energy level and histrionics and neuroses of a George would be sorely disappointed," he says. Darn. "But what I would love to be able to do -- if I didn't have shame issues -- would be George's behavior, you know, to stand up and say 'You idiot!' -- and you're the dumbest guy in the room. But to have that kind of conviction is an amazing ability. I wish I could do it sometimes."
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