Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jason Alexander Hates You

I've spent the past three days running all over the Los Angeles region doing interviews and digging up public documents for what may turn out to be the most significant magazine piece I've done since I slept on the floor of a central China hut next to the puke pan of a woman infected with HIV by illicit blood sellers for this Poz piece.

Certainly, these conditions are far better. I've been crashing on Vegas travel freelancer Eric Gladstone's couch and taking down time in adorable cafes where that ubiquitous California species, the aspiring screenwriter, appear in great number.

So I should be sleeping right now because I have another crucial interview in five hours in Riverside, but I had a run-in tonight and can't get something out of my head.

Jason Alexander hates you.

You might recall that the Seinfeld star came to Vegas to perform his one-man show, "The Donny Clay Experience," in the Peepshow theater at Planet Hollywood. On media night, I was introduced warmly by Vegas-based publicists hired to promote the show as a significant journalist with several major outlets. Alexander's co-producer was friendly and told me we'd arrange a phone interview in the coming days.

Then it didn't happen. The Vegas-based publicists asked who I'd be using the interview for. I'd already run the question by editors at a few major national papers and websites but, quite frankly, Jason Alexander isn't of all that much interest anymore.

My answer: We'd do an episode of "The Strip" and some blogging here and, depending on what came out of the conversation, it was totally possible that it could go farther. Take it from Smokey Robinson, Joan Rivers, Hal Prince, Dennis Miller and Lily Tomlin, to name a few from the past eight months or so who have submitted to a thoughtful conversation with me only to find it used in a list of publications and venues around the world. There's no reporter in Vegas capable of attaining as wide exposure but sometimes, like when you're Jason Alexander and you're not that big a deal anymore, you have to do the interview first so I know what the story is.

A few days later, I finally heard back from the Vegas-based publicists: Jason Alexander doesn't do podcasts or blogs.


It was such a bizarre notion that anyone would simply dismiss any medium out of hand that I didn't believe it could seriously have come from Jason Alexander. I presumed it was his personal publicist or partners or something; the level of arrogance and ignorance it takes to say such a thing rarely comes from the celebrity himself.

It was also a demonstrable lie. Jason Alexander has been interviewed by poker bloggers and podcasts and Jason Alexander was interviewed by at least one Vegas journalist whose primary publication outlet is a blog, Robin Leach. Not to mention the publicity shot above? Found it next to an interview for a blog.

Anyhow, my interview never happened. The Vegas-based publicists asked me for data related to the reach of this blog and the podcast, which I provided. But the size of this audience didn't matter. Jason Alexander finished his run in Vegas and that seemed like the end.

Except then, tonight, it wasn't.

A good friend is starring in "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum" at the Freud Theater at UCLA. The show's run begins officially today, but on Monday was a full dress rehearsal. Serendipitously I was in L.A. and was one of my friend's guests. It's a fabulous production that features several Vegas-related actors including ex-"The Producers" star Larry Rabin and ex-"Jersey Boys" star Erich Bergen, so if you're around, totally take it in.

And guess who the show's Artistic Director is? Why, that fine thespian, Jason Alexander. What were the odds?

I had to talk to him. I really had to know whether the actor himself has killed our interview or if it was an overzealous publicity person's doing. And so, as my friend and I were parting, I spotted Jason Alexander putzing around on one of these scooters in the parking garage near his car. (Odd, I know.)

I approached. I reminded him that we'd met at his "Donny Clay" reception. I reminded him that I had been promised an interview.

"Yeah," he said. "I don't do that."

Do what?

"I don't do the blogs, the pod, any of that," he said. "I don't even like doing print anymore. They fuck it up even more than any of them."

Now I know you think what Jason Alexander is saying is that he hates me and my journalist ilk. Which is why I'm going to explain to you what he's really saying, and it's that he hates you.

Jason Alexander doesn't even know what a podcast is. Or, at least, he clearly doesn't know what mine is. We have in-depth, lengthy, serious conversations on "The Strip" that are posted virtually unedited. It's really hard to "fuck it up" -- by which someone like Jason Alexander actually means he'd be misquoted or taken out of context -- when the entire discussion is published.

No, no. All Jason Alexander knows is that it happens on the Internet. That's the only thing podcasts and blogs have in common. And the people who write blogs or publish podcasts couldn't possibly be competent professionals. As for the people who read blogs and listen to podcasts? Why, you're simply unworthy of the mighty Jason Alexander's attention altogether. Never mind that you're the people who care so much about Vegas and Vegas entertainment that you seek out such information, that you will go through the trouble of downloading a podcast, synching it and spending hours taking it in. You're precisely his potential ticket-buyer and he has no respect for you.

The anti-print-journalist bias is a bizarre extra. Once you've ruled out podcasts and blogs and all print media too, what's left? Television! And we all know how celebrity reporters on TV obsess over keeping everything in context and having serious, revelatory conversations!

Another peculiar thing about all this is that I can't figure out where his antipathy for the media started. Lousy reviews for his two post-Seinfeld sitcom bombs? Really? He's turned on all media because critics rendered their opinions? So far as I can recall, Jason Alexander has never had a scandal, never appeared in tabloids, never had to apologize for something that only celebrities ever have to apologize for. The media has had a lovefest for all things Seinfeld forever. When has he even been wounded in such a mortal way?

Oh well. I'm sure that if Jason Alexander ever reads any of this, he'll use it as proof that bloggers, podcasters and print journalists are all evil-doers out to attack and harm their prey. It won't matter that he lied about not doing blogs or podcasts, it won't matter that he's not basing his choices on the quality of the journalist or the size of the audience. He's a media bigot, and no sort of bigot comes to their bigotry rationally.

One more little thing. In the "Forum" program, Jason Alexander's blurb indicates that he will be bringing his "Donny Clay" show to Vegas "for an extended run." Except that his run is over and no future dates are scheduled.

In that UCLA parking garage, I asked him whether he'd be returning to Vegas.

"That is still yet to be determined," he answered with a doubtful look before scooting away. (Odd, I know.)

Hmm. If Vegas doesn't work out for him -- and as I've been told by P-Ho execs that they have no itch to have him back any time soon -- I'm sure Jason Alexander will have a Seinfeldian explanation.

It's not him, it's us.


Anonymous said...

Lisa and I were in Las Vegas when Donny Clay opened, pretty sure we could have gotten free tix. Decided we'd rather hang at the Riviera and Circus-Circus. Thought it would be more entertaining. It was.
Jeff in OKC

Dan in Vegas said...

He spoke to Robin Leach. That tells you all you need to know about whether he is interested in being substantively interviewed or looking for having smoke blown up his ass. Don't bother with him, Steve. He probably would've stopped the interview when you mentioned that he's not conventionally handsome.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess you have your angle for a Jason Alexander article after all! What a putz is he...

Anonymous said...

Am a little on the fence about this. If he isn't returning to Vegas at PH, then why bother doing the interview? He is allowed to say no thanks or even just no for whatever reason and get on with his life. Do I like your interviews? Generally, I do. Would I have listened to it? Probably some of it. Would I ever go to see Jason Alexander perform? Honestly, no. He had his turn at the wheel and it's over. He should enjoy the money, the fame, etc., and call it a day. Is he really talented? I kinda don't think so. Did he do well on Seinfeld? Very. Does he have to give interviews even to very credible folks like you. Actually, no he doesn't. Does he deserve to be cut up for saying no? I don't think so as that seems a bit vindictive.


Michael said...

Too bad, I would have liked to see him interviewed especially considering a podcast by you would most certainly give him a chance to give people a view into him that he lacks in the media coverage. I.E. always be known for being "George".

But I'm with the others who posted above, it truly is his loss, and in thinking about it, perhaps it's better for him that he didn't do it, as we might have discovered that his only true talent was being 'George' which is sort of sad if you think about it.

Anonymous said...

Knew there was a reason that I didn't see that show. Seems like kind of a twat.

Anonymous said...

We got free tickets to Donny Clay and could only take about 15 minutes before we had to leave. There was six of us, and never have six people so collectively wanted to get the hell out of someplace.

I would have felt extremely embarrassed for Alexander, had he not been charging people real money to watch that crap of a production he called a show.

Alexander had a great run with Seinfeld. It's obvious from what's happened since then that he caught lightening in a bottle. And that's great for him, but he should do any sort of press he can (especially thoughtful media like yours) to keep his name out there and the connection to the Seinfeld memories alive, because he's got no other legs to stand on.

Dave Lifton said...

Jason Alexander has never had anything interesting to say unless Larry David put it in his mouth.

Anonymous said...

Attended Donnie Clay last week and loved it -- as did our whole group. Jason came out after the show and posed for photos. He looked wonderful; we laughed a lot; and loved seeing and hearing a first-rate actor.

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of on Jason's side on this one, mainly because of Steve's rancor. Steve, I love your stuff and yes, you may be right that journalism is moving towards a blogger/podcast focus. But just because you have pride in what you do doesn't mean Jason owes you an interview. This is a guy who made a million dollars an episode for "Seinfeld" and is still working pretty steadily. He has a right to think he's big time. I will admit it's funny that in his short lived series, "Listen Up," he played a journalist...


SG and Bri:

I never said Jason Alexander owed me or anyone an interview. I get turned down for interviews all the time and I don't write blog posts about it. But (a) when a celebrity says they will speak to you and then doesn't it's unusual and rude and (b) when a celebrity declares that he has no use for entire segments of the media for reasons that betray his lack of understanding of any of those media forms, that's strange and deserves to be called out.

This matter was already out there for weeks and I didn't write about it. It was when I saw him AGAIN and he persisted with the same ridiculous response that I realized who he has contempt for. Sure, it's journalists. But it's also our audiences. You couldn't get a more unfiltered media venue than a podcast like ours. So it's not REALLY that he thought something would be perverted. It was that he doesn't connect online media consumers with real people who might buy tickets.

And SG, you have no idea how often people write after listening to interviews of people they didn't think they cared about deciding they wanted to see their shows. Happens pretty much every day.


EC Gladstone said...

Thx for the plug, Steve. My couch is yours ;-)
FYI, my blog link is www.orbitz.com/vegasblog

P.S. Saw the Alexander show. I had a very George Costanza-esque response ;-)