Seinfeld writer says ‘it’s pretty galling’ that Steve Bannon still earns royalties

Peter Mehlman is aghast that Bannon, who helped run Donald Trumps campaign, continues to mint a fortune from royalties from the sitcom

As a writer and producer on Seinfeld, Peter Mehlman enshrined shrinkage, yada yada and the ethics of double-dipping into comedy lore.

He savored the sitcoms success all the more because it was, famously, about nothing and broke network rules about likeable characters and punchlines.

But now the joke is on Mehlman and other liberals who worked on Seinfeld.

The shows billion-dollar revenues enriched and empowered Steve Bannon, an investor-turned political guru who ran the campaign for Donald Trump, another rule-breaker who according to critics knows nothing, and will be his chief White House strategist.

Mehlman is aghast that Bannon continues to mint a fortune from Seinfeld royalties.

The writer told the Guardian that he felt Bannon had proven himself to be a raging antisemite, and the fact that hed made all this money off a show thats associated with Jewish humor thats pretty galling.

Bannon has rejected claims that he is antisemitic. Breitbart News, which he ran before taking over Trumps campaign, is strongly pro-Israel.

But under Bannons stewardship one headline branded the conservative commentator Bill Kristol a renegade Jew. Another article called Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum a Polish, Jewish, American elitist.

In July, Bannon boasted of turning the right-wing site Breitbart News into a platform for the alt-right, a far right movement. Two weeks after the election, a group of self-described alt-right leaders met at a conference where they mimicked Nazi language, spoke angrily about Jewish people and said the US belonged to white people.

During a contentious divorce in 2007 Bannons ex-wife, Mary Louise Piccard, said in a court declaration that he objected to their daughters attending a certain school with many Jewish pupils. He said that he doesnt like the way they raise their kids to be whiny brats and that he didnt want the girls going to school with Jews, Piccard wrote. Bannon denied he made the remarks, saying through a spokeswoman that he proudly sent the girls to the private school.

Mehlman believes there is ample evidence. If hes not antisemitic what do you have to do to be considered antisemitic? Shoot Woody Allen?

The writer said colleagues in Los Angeles were still absorbing Trumps victory. People are just starting to rouse from an incredible funk. A few sitcom writers in my neigborhood were walking around in a daze for a couple of weeks. It was pretty shocking.

Bannon, a former financier at Goldman Sachs, acquired a share of the royalties from Seinfeld in 1993 as part of the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to Turner Broadcasting System. The NBC show, which ran for nine seasons from 1989 to 1998, subsequently became a cultural and financial phenomenon. Bannons wealth smoothed his path from finance to media and politics.

He made a ton of money. It was a smart decision, said Mehlman, who worked with Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David on the show about four neurotic New Yorkers. It doesnt make him any less miserable as a human being.

Most of the shows writers and actors have remained silent on Trump, with a few exceptions. During the campaign Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played Elaine, and Jason Alexander, who played George, mocked his claims that the Emmys were rigged. After Trump won, Alexander tweeted: Sorry, world. Pray for us.

Almost two decades after the final episode aired, the show remains a cash cow with a record-breaking series of syndication cycles. The size of Bannons stake is unclear but just half a percent makes you pretty wealthy, Mehlman said.

Affection for Seinfeld seemed undimmed, said the writer. In a strange way its a tribute to the strength of the show. Its not like anyones saying lets boycott Seinfeld or stop watching the reruns. I think if [Osama] bin-Laden had said he was a fan people wouldnt be upset.

Bannon did not respond to an interview request but family and friends defended him, saying media bias had smeared him.

A lot of things have been twisted and it hasnt been very pleasant, said Martin Bannon, the strategists father. A lot of the stuff coming out they just want to kill the messenger.

John Sullivan, an LA-based documentary maker, said Bannon had Jewish friends and colleagues: The antisemitic thing is ridiculous. I dont recognise this stuff.

Bannon had no creative role in Seinfeld but Melhman said he had joked to a Seinfeld veteran that he had written the Bubble Boy episode. Its generally accepted that words with Bs and Ks are very funny. Except, maybe, Bannon.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/09/steve-bannon-seinfeld-royalties-peter-mehlman-trump

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