Public stoRytelling

“Seinfeld’s” George (Jason Alexander) and Susan (Heidi Swedberg)

In a week filled with sex scandals (Dennis Hastert, Josh Duggar) and sex change (Caitlyn Jenner), a bit of public storytelling by a former “Seinfeld” star was just a blip on the radar, but it resonated strongly with “Seinfeld” fans. Jason Alexander, a.k.a. George Costanza on the ’90s’ number one sitcom, may have gotten too comfortable during a live radio interview with Howard Stern.

If you’ve watched “Seinfeld,” you know that the George character was reluctantly engaged to Susan, played by Heidi Swedberg. As the wedding approached, George bought the cheapest wedding invitations he could find, so cheap that Susan became ill and died after licking the toxic glue on the envelopes.

Alexander told Stern that cast member Julia Louis Dreyfus and others had difficulty acting with Swedberg. “And Julia actually said, ‘I know it’s, just, don’t you just want to kill her?’ ” Alexander said. “And (Seinfeld co-creator) Larry (David) went, ‘Kabang! Now we’ve got to kill her.'”

Social media exploded with this fascinating slice of “Seinfeld” backstage trivia. While her acting career never took off much past “Seinfeld,” Heidi Swedberg had a dozen or so roles since and is a working musician and ukulele teacher today. Alexander’s comment could have bordered on slander.

Jason Alexander quickly regretted what he said and apologized. “She was generous and gracious, and I am so mad at myself for retelling this story in any way that would diminish her,” he wrote on Twitter. He also tweeted that the decision to kill off Susan was only because Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld wanted an inventive way to keep George Costanza from getting married.

My mother used to tell me, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I would add, “…or else you’ll create a public relations problem.” This is especially true when you’re in a position where millions can hear or read what you’ve said. Any public forum is a place where your words can potentially hurt others–and yourself. So be nice when telling stories, or maybe don’t tell them at all. Your thoughts?

6 thoughts on “Public stoRytelling

  1. torisucci

    When in a position of importance, when you have a fan base or people to look up to you it is extra important that you don’t say anything that could possibly offend or set people off. Sometimes it is just a matter of thinking before you speak but obviously in this situation the comments made were not received well by their audience. Personally I think rightfully so but when in the public eye like that you need to make sure that everything that you say is politically correct or else word gets out fast and that could potentially mess your career up.

    Reply
  2. Tianna C.M Johnson

    I agree! People sometimes seem to forget that once you say something theres no taking it back. Even though Alexander “quickly regretted” what he had said there was no apology or tweet that could take back his comments. (I couldn’t agree more with your mother) In the Public Relations world it is very important to be cautious of what you say.

    Reply
  3. molliealexandra

    I think that too often people forget the dangers and power of the media. Though it can be used in a positive way, it can just as easily cause problems. Knowing how to use it and use it positively is a huge part of being a public relations professional.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.