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The familiar face from the extremely succesful and popular mainstream comedy hit "Seinfeld". During the 9 season run of the show, Alexander earned six Emmy nominations, four Golden Globe nominations and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. His other television credits include the series "Everything's Relative" and the television movie "The Man Who Saved Christmas," on CBS, the series "Bob Patterson" and "E/R," the mini-series "Favorite Son," musical versions of "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Cinderella" and the upcoming television movie "A Christmas Carol." He also guest-starred in "Malcolm in the Middle" and earned his seventh Emmy nomination for a guest spot in "Dream On." His many feature film credits include "The Burning," "Brighton Beach Memoirs," "The Mosquito Coast," "Jacob's Ladder," "White Palace," "Coneheads," "Blankman," "The Last Supper," "Denial" and the Academy Award-nominated live-action short "Down on the Waterfront." His most memorable roles include those in "North," "The Paper" and "Pretty Woman." He also starred in "I Don't Buy Kisses Any More" and "Dunston Checks In" and garnered exceptional reviews for his performance in the film version of Terrence McNally's Tony Award-winning play "Love! Valour! Compassion!" More recently, Alexander appeared as Boris Badenov in "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle" and in "Shallow Hal." He has also executive-produced "Agent Cody Banks" and its recent sequel, "Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London." He directed "Just Looking" and directed and starred in "For Better or Worse." His first effort as a director, an episode of "Seinfeld," was nominated for a DGA Award.
Alexander's voice has also become famous in animated features and television series. For four seasons, he starred in the critically acclaimed adult animation series "Duckman" and has provided voices in "Aladdin," "The Return of Jafar," "Hercules," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "101 Dalmatians II." Recently, Alexander played the leading role of Max Bialystock in the Los Angeles production of the hit Broadway musical "The Producers." His other theater credits include "Merrily We Roll Along," "Accomplice," "Broadway Bound," "The Rink" and "Jerome Robbins' Broadway," for which he won the Tony, Outer Critics and Drama Desk Awards for Best Actor in a Musical. Alexander also wrote the narration of the show, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical. In Los Angeles, he portrayed Harry Truman in the one-man play "Give 'Em Hell, Harry" and also starred in "Promises, Promises" and "Defiled."
Alexander's first children's book, Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy?, will be published in 2005. Jason Alexander ( Jay Scott Greenspan) was born on September 23, 1959, in Newark, NJ. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Daena Enid Title, actress and writer, and their 2 sons, Gabriel ( born 1992) and Noa ( born 1996.
Jason's Quote: "Physically, you know, I can't do those leading-man sort of parts. I'm actually much more brooding and sensitive than the comic, cocky parts I usually get offered. But as short as I am, as bald as I am, and my weight added into that, you naturally get typed as the jolly guy. But I'm not whining. When it's between my career or a Twinkie, the Twinkie always wins."
Jason Alexander lends his voice to portray the title role as the irascible family man/private eye with a personality part Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners and part Maxwell Smart of Get Smart in Duckman, the new USA Network animated adult comedy series from Klasky Csupo, Inc. and Reborn Productions in association with Paramount Domestic Television.
Born and raised in New Jersey and a longtime New York resident, Alexander focused his efforts early in entertainment by joking with classmates to steer them away from teasing him about his chubbiness. He amused them with impressions, comedy album bits and film dialogue. From that display of comic flair, Alexander broadened his scope by taking singing and dancing lessons. By 13, he performed at his Bar Mitzvah, which he considers his "first paid gig." And at 17, he earned his first professional job when he was spotted in a childrens theater group and invited to perform on a local New York kid's program.
His first role came while studying at Boston University when he took a part in a horror film entitled The Burning, which also featured newcomers Holly Hunter and Fisher Stevens. Subsequent films have been more auspicious, including Brighton Beach Memoirs, Mosquito Coast, Jacob's Ladder, White Palace, and the attention-grabbing role as Richard Gere's friend and villianous lawyer in Pretty Woman. In 1991, Alexander landed his first film lead in I Don't Buy Kisses Anymore, a romantic comedy with Nia Peeples about a man who loses weight to win over the girl of his dreams.
Alexander is continuing his success in feature films with three very different characters in recent films. He can be seen in a small but significant role as a beleagered commisioner of parking in Ron Howard's The Paper with Michael Keaton and Glenn Close. In North, directed by Rob Reiner, he portrays the father of a boy (Elijah Wood) who takes his parents to court in hopes of trading them in for new ones. And in Blankman starring Damon Wayans, Jason has a cameo as a hard-crusted TV
Alexandre's equally impressive Broadway credits began with a debut in Merrily We Roll Along, a Hal Prince/Stephen Sondheim collaboration. He has also starred in Rupert Holmes' Accomplice, Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, and The Rink with Liza Minelli and Chita Rivera. His crowning theatrical achievement came with Jerome Robbins' Broadway, giving him the 1989 Tony, Outer Critics and Drama Desk awards for Best Actor in a Musical. Beyond his acting abilities in the show, he also wrote the narration for the musical, which itself nabbed the Tony for Best Musical. More recently, Alexander has appeared on the Los Angeles stage, portraying Harry Truman in the one-man play Give'Em Hell Harry, which garnered unanimous rave reviews from theatre critics and audiences alike.
Alexander has collected two Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations, as well as two American Comedy Awards for his current role in Seinfeld. He also starred in his own series, Everything's Relative, was a series regular on the Elliot Gould sitcom E.R., and co-starred in the lauded Harry Hamlin miniseries Favorite Son.
Alexander also aspires to direct theater, and received a Directors Guild Award nomination for helming a Seinfeld episode in the 1992-93 season. Jason Alexander played George Costanza on the popular NBC comedy series, Seinfeld (1989-1998).
Jason Alexander's 'no-win situation'
Actor hosting the People's Choice Awards Sunday Jason Alexander has it on good authority that his job as co-host of the People's Choice Awards on Sunday is unlikely to have a big payoff.
"My good friend Jerry Seinfeld had the greatest quote, and it's so true. He said these things are a no-win situation: If you really screw it up, you're a complete jerk. If it goes brilliantly, all you get is they ask you to do it again," Alexander said.
He'll share the adventure of hosting with Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who stars with Alexander in the new CBS sitcom "Listen Up."
Scheduled presenters at the ceremony airing 9 p.m. EST Sunday on CBS include Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Ellen DeGeneres, Josh Duhamel, William Shatner and Prince.
Alexander ("Seinfeld") said he and Warner ("The Cosby Show") have roughed out an approach but know it's the awards that count, not the hosts. Unexpected reactions from winners are welcome.
"The more spontaneous and real that these things (awards shows) become, the more memorable they are," he said. "I think part of the burnout the audience gets with these shows, having so many of them, is they tend to be repetitive unless you get moments like that."
There may be a side benefit for him and Warner, Alexander said.
"I'm on CBS (with 'Listen Up'), it's a CBS show, and with Malcolm and I doing it together it's a wonderful chance to potentially reach an audience that hasn't found us," he said, adding jokingly: "Again, we could screw it up."
The awards' 31st ceremony will include new categories, including favorite movie, movie drama, smile and cartoon star.
Among the nominees in the film categories are "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Fahrenheit 9/11," "The Incredibles" and "The Passion of the Christ."
Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts, Charlize Theron and Reese Witherspoon are up for favorite actress and George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington for favorite male actor.
The nomination and awards process, formerly based on a national poll, has been revised to be compiled by Entertainment Weekly, the People's Choice production team and pop culture fans. The public chose the winners online.
''Listen Up'' star Jason Alexander answers People's Choice Call
Every week, more than 10.2 million people choose to tune in to the CBS comedy "Listen Up." In January, to return the favor, that show's stars, Jason Alexander and Malcolm-Jamal Warner will return the favor by hosting the People's Choice Awards.
Airing live (if you don't live on the West Coast) on Sunday, Jan. 9 from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, the 31st Annual People's Choice Awards can be seen on CBS.
The show, which lets fans select their favorites from the world of film, television and music, will also feature appearances by Ellen DeGeneres, Poppy Montgomery, Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Josh Duhamel and Jeff Foxworthy with future performers still to be announced.
Fans can still vote online for the winners in two categories -- favorite new TV drama and favorite new TV comedy -- which will be announced during the show's live broadcast.
Interestingly, "Listen Up" isn't nominated in the new comedy catetory, though the already cancelled "Father of the Pride" and ratings starved "Complete Savages" are (NBC's "Joey" is the third and highest rated nominee). In the drama category, CBS' "CSI: NY" will face off against two Golden Globe nominated ABC shows in "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" (a comedy in the Globes' estimation).
Seinfeld Seasons 1-3 on DVD now
Before its release Nov. 23, this first batch of DVDs from the modern-day classic comedy made some unwanted headlines for the show's namesake and co-creator late last year, when co-stars Julia-Louis Dreyfus, Michael Richards and Jason Alexander threatened to sit out on the commentary for these first-season rounds. Eventually, all sides kissed and made up, allowing viewers additional insight on episodes such as "The Chinese Restaurant" and "The Phone Message." Both loaded to the gills with bonus features and documentaries, a "Special Limited Edition Gift Set," made up of the three seasons, playing cards and salt-and-pepper shakers, also is available for holiday shoppers
Jason Alexander speaks against animal cruelty
Bound to a wheelchair and repeatedly crossing the road in front of a local KFC, an activist in a giant chicken costume will lead a protest against KFC suppliers’ abusive treatment of chickens. Other PETA members will pass out leaflets and hold signs that read, "The Colonel’s Secret Recipe: Live Scalding, Painful Debeaking, Crippled Chickens." One activist will wear a body screen TV showing shocking undercover video footage of chickens on factory farms and in slaughterhouses:
The protest is part of an international campaign to pressure KFC to crack down on cruel treatment of chickens by its suppliers, including a slaughterhouse in Moorefield, W.Va., where workers were caught kicking, throwing, and stomping live birds in a widely distributed video.
PETA attempted to work with Yum! Brands executives prior to launching its "Kentucky Fried Cruelty" Campaign, but despite assurances made long ago by Senior Vice President Jonathan Blum that KFC would "raise the bar" on animal welfare, the company refuses to eliminate the worst abuses. Seinfeld star and ex-KFC pitchman Jason Alexander had his contract with KFC canceled after PETA enlisted him to speak to company execs about the suffering of chickens. PETA has had additional high-profile support from Nobel Peace Prize winner His Holiness the Dalai Lama, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, comedian Richard Pryor, rock icons Sir Paul McCartney and Chrissie Hynde, actors Pamela Anderson and Bea Arthur, and civil-rights leaders Alice Walker, Kweisi Mfume, Dick Gregory, and Dr. Cornel West.
PETA is calling on KFC to make basic improvements based on the best available scientific research and the recommendations of members of KFC’s own animal welfare advisory panel. Other undercover investigations like the one in Moorefield have turned up exactly the same abuses that KFC denies having to address—including crippled chickens kept in crowded, filthy conditions and sadistically tortured. The widely read British newspaper The Sunday Mirror led a report on an investigation into a U.K. KFC supplier with the headline "Distressed and Dying in a Cramped Shed … Nobody Does Chicken Like KFC."
"KFC stands for cruelty in our book," says PETA Director of Vegan Campaigns Bruce Friedrich. "If Yum! executives treated cats or dogs the way they treat chickens, they could go to prison on felony cruelty-to-animals charges."
Charming Jason Alexander
Some actors light up the screen, but meet them face to face and you'd think you were at Madame Tussaud's. Not Jason Alexander. At a corner table in the lounge of Manhattan's Four Seasons Hotel, he is animated, entertaining - and as charming as the immortal George Costanza was boorish.
The New Jersey native, larger than life at 5-foot-5, tells funny anecdotes, and does dead-on impersonations of both Penny and Garry Marshall (who now plays his TV dad). Alexander even reminisces about the "odd night" when he learned there was another headline-making Jason Alexander.
"I wasn't following the entertainment news, and I signed on ... I got 100 e-mails from people who don't know each other and they're all talking about, 'Hey, you married Britney Spears?' I thought, is this some big elaborate practical joke?" These days, he is once again the Jason Alexander whose name is everywhere.
While in New York last week, he appeared on "Late Show With David Letterman." He then flew to Chicago to tape an "Oprah" with his "Seinfeld" co-stars - to promote today's release of the first three "Seinfeld" seasons on DVD. (The "Oprah" appearance airs today.) On Thursday night, NBC will air "The Seinfeld Story," a clips special hosted by Jerry Seinfeld.
"A lot of people are confused and call it a reunion special. To me, a reunion is when you put all four of us together and we're actually there. That is not happening," Alexander says. "Not to be crass about it, but I think, more or less, it's a big infomercial for the DVDs."
Next Sunday, Alexander can be seen as the ghost of Jacob Marley to Kelsey Grammer's Scrooge in NBC's "A Christmas Carol: The Musical." "I'm really in it for about five minutes. Just like in the movie, he comes and he goes, 'You will be visited,' and he kind of takes off," he says.
Alexander is mainly in town to talk about his Monday-night comedy "Listen Up," which CBS recently picked up for the entire season. CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves first called to ask if he'd be interested in doing TV again while Alexander was playing Max Bialystock in the L.A. production of "The Producers." When they met, Moonves gave him a script for "Listen Up."
"I liked it. It was a nice script, and I thought, 'This could be something, but I wasn't blown away by it," he says. "My wife read it, and she went, 'This is what you're doing.' And then I gave it to my best friends, and they said the same thing."
Alexander remembers what his wife told him: "There's enough of George in here to satisfy people, but it will allow you to be eventually a different character, and allow you to be a human being." "Listen Up" is loosely based on sports commentator Tony Kornheiser's columns about suburban life in the Washington Post.
Alexander plays columnist Tony Kleinman, who also co-hosts a sports talk show, "Shut Up and Listen," with a former football player played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Alexander especially likes the depiction of their characters' friendship. "They do know that one's black and one's white, but they're so comfortable with each other that they can kid about it," he says.
At home, Kleinman has a supportive wife (Wendy Makkena), an easygoing teenage son (Will Rothhaar) and a 14-year-old daughter, played by Daniella Monet, who thinks every single thing her dad does is wrong. "What's great about Dani is, from the moment I met her, she was very healthily unimpressed with me ... she was like, 'All right, come on buddy, you diss me, I'll diss you.' From the minute she came through the door, she had the part."
This is Alexander's second attempt at post-"Seinfeld" situation comedy. He did the short-lived "Bob Patterson," in which he played a motivational speaker. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards also had comedies that flopped, which led to stories about the "Curse of 'Seinfeld.'Ÿ"
"It would really be a curse if none of us could do anything, but, it seems to only apply to doing another network television series, so it's a limited curse, at best," Alexander says, chuckling. As for why those three shows failed, he thinks they were, in different ways, all trying to be "out of the box," and non-traditional comedies tend not to do well. By comparison, Alexander's CBS sitcom is an old square - "warm-hearted family fare," as he calls it.
"It's a genre, family comedies. Unless you're doing 'Arrested Development,' which is about a highly dysfunctional family, they kind of resemble each other, so, it takes awhile for them to distinguish what makes them unique," Alexander says.
Jason Alexander is hopeful about his new sitcom "Listen Up"
"It's very sweet, and it's starting to really find itself now." On "Listen Up," Jason Alexander plays a sitcom version of real-life TV sports talk host and newspaper columnist Tony Kornheiser. His character, Tony Kleinman, is a sports fanatic. Before taking the role, was he familiar with Kornheiser? "No, not at all," the actor admits. "I really follow sports very minimally."
Maybe that's why they call it acting. Of course, Alexander got famous acting the part of hothead single guy George Costanza on "Seinfeld." But on "Listen Up" (airing Monday at 8:30 p.m. EST on CBS), he's a family man with a knowing wife (Wendy Makkena) and two precocious teenage kids (Daniella Monet and Will Rothhaar). Malcolm-Jamal Warner plays the sidekick on his talk show, "Shut Up and Listen."
Remove the laugh track, and Tony Kleinman seems all too similar to Tony Kornheiser, a Washington Post and ESPN fixture whom Alexander dutifully researched before filming began. "I read his columns, watched his show. A funny man! I didn't know what he was talking about, but I enjoyed the hell out of him."
"Listen Up" is Alexander's second try at a sitcom comeback. Three years after the groundbreaking "Seinfeld" ended, he landed on ABC in 2001 playing a self-help guru on the eponymous "Bob Patterson." It quickly flopped. "I was always interested in trying again, because I do like doing a sitcom," says Alexander.
Doing his new sitcom, he is borrowing from his past as George. But it's an early phase of the evolution process, "in the same way that I was doing a blatant Woody Allen impression when I started playing George -- until I really understood that he was (`Seinfeld' co-creator) Larry David's alter ego, and the character could take on his own life. Tony Kleinman is in the nascent stage of becoming someone who isn't George." Astute "Listen Up" viewers can already detect a softening of Tony's behavior from his cartoonish excess in the pilot episode.
"I look forward to growth in this character, of finding something uniquely different from where I started," Alexander says. "If you have the luxury of time, something really fresh and interesting can develop." He notes that Kleinman is closer than Costanza to who he really is.
"I was never George," says Alexander. "I never had friendships like his. I never dated; I met (wife) Daena when I was 19." He has two sons. "Now I can go to work and offer suggestions to a writer: `A teenage boy wouldn't do that.' This is a world that I understand a little better, and that's kind of neat." Not that anyone would confuse the actor with any of the sitcom characters he's played.
"The truth is: The real me is pretty shy, sober and serious about stuff," Alexander says in his typically quiet manner. "I don't have the sort of ego that makes me prone to those kind of outbursts. To do that, you have to feel, at least in the moment, INCREDIBLY right" -- he is revving into moderate George-mode -- "and to look at the world and go, `YOU are wrong, and not only are you WRONG, you're INSANE, and the madness has to END. And I'm here to END it!'
"I usually see the gray of everything," he sighs, "so it's hard for me in real life to make that kind of bold stand. But it's fun to play those guys!" It was certainly fun to play George during the phenomenal 1990-98 run of "Seinfeld."
Although an uncertain starter, "Seinfeld" hit its stride with "The Contest" (which in November 1992 unveiled a new meaning for "master of his domain"), says Alexander. "But, not to be coy about it, we never truly either felt or expressed among each other any acknowledgment of the full impact the show was having." Alexander doesn't count on starring in another series that will rise to "Seinfeld's" stratospheric heights. That's fine. At age 45, he says he embodies a more mature approach to success.
"True happiness occupies a very even, middle keel," he declares. "That's my experience of this show: even, constant joy and rewards. It will never burn as bright as the one that came before it, and there was a time when I would have said, `Oh, that's disappointing to me.' Now I go, `That's real to me, and just fine.'
"But it will be arguably less fine to people who haven't made that journey with me," he hastens to add, and its lukewarm ratings thus far ("Listen Up" is ranked 31st in viewers) may bear him out. "For the people who hold on to `Seinfeld' and George, they may want to live those highs that `Seinfeld' gave them every week -- and the subtle joys of this show will probably elude them.
"So I must actually find a completely different audience for this show," he muses. "Who knows if I can do that?"