Originally created 05/15/98

'Seinfeld' fans bid show adieu

New York couldn't get it together, but Augusta did. The city where the popular television show is set tried to have a last hurrah to say sayonara to Seinfeld, but its plans fell through.

Augusta's didn't.

More than 1,200 people packed downtown Augusta's Jessye Norman Amphitheater on Thursday evening to watch the last show of the series on a 10 1/2 -by-14-foot screen.

"Something good is going to be gone," said Max Townsend, 18, a warehouse engineer at Returns Inc. on Wheeler Road.

To ease the parting pain, Augusta's NBC network affiliate WAGT gave away hats, T-shirts, mugs, autographed pictures of series star Jerry Seinfeld and a 31inch television and videocassette recorder for watching Seinfeld reruns. Keith Barany, a former Seinfeld writer, performed a 15-minute standup routine.

Then there was a look-alike contest with four Elaines, two Jerrys, two Georges, a Newman and a Kramer.

It was an exciting night for Sheila Moore because she got to see a new episode of Seinfeld, but she was sad because it's the last one.

"What am I going to do now?" asked Sheila, an 18 year-old Evans High School senior. "I'm mad. I'm very angry."

She'll just have to keep screaming "Serenity now!" because there's no more puffy shirts and no more Puddy -- Elaine's going to have to move the bureau by herself. No more Newman, no more close talkers or low talkers. No more of Jerry's girlfriends who carve their Snickers bars with a knife and fork and eat their peas one by one.

Erin Erwin, 17, a junior at Midland Valley High School, nearly cried when she heard the show was canceled.

"We're hoping it's going to be a big psych-out," said her friend Nancy Chafin, a 17-year-old homeschooled student who lives in North Augusta.

"That it's not really the end," Erin chimed in. "They're just tricking us. We're obsessed."

"Seinfeld addicts," Nancy said. "We're going to be so depressed it's gone."

Folks brought Junior Mints, marble rye bread and mangoes -- all foods that have figured in plot twists during the show's nine years.

After an hour medley of Seinfeld moments, the final episode started with Jerry at the mike, something the show hadn't done in a couple of years. Then Jerry and George were back at the coffee shop and George wanted ketchup, but the waitress was ignoring him, so he was griping. Nothing new.

Then, big happy news for Jerry and George -- NBC's new president decided that their idea for a sitcom about nothing was a good idea. Maybe people would talk about it at the water cooler, they thought. NBC gave Jerry and company the private jet to fly to Paris. But they stopped off in a tiny town in Maine and witnessed a carjacking. Standing around making fun of someone and not helping violated the town's good Samaritan law, so the four were carted off to jail.

The trial was very O.J.-esque, with Geraldo Rivera as the lead news anchorman. To attest to the foursome's terrible, selfish, shallow natures, they brought back a parade of characters including Sidra ("they're real and they're spectacular"), Babu, the Bubble Boy, the Virgin and the Soup Nazi.

Yada, yada, yada -- George's mother offered herself to the judge, and the four got locked up in jail.

"It had everything in it all at once," said Harris Weinstein, a 24-year-old janitorial supply salesman in Augusta.

"They did their job," Mr. Barany, 35, said after the show. "They had to bring everybody back and have closure."

Mr. Seinfeld pulled the plug on his comedy about four neurotic New Yorkers at the height of the show's popularity, turning his back on NBC's offer to pay him $5 million an episode for another year.

"They did smart," said Jerry Wren, 70, a retired electrical engineer who lives in Augusta. He didn't want to see the show lose its edge like Murphy Brown, he said.

Mr. Wren has been a loyal Seinfeld fan for nine years. If he doesn't stay up late enough to watch the show's nightly reruns, he tapes them, he said.

Still, not everyone's as sad or mad as Sheila. Half the people who watch Seinfeld said they wouldn't miss it much when it's gone, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

But it will never truly leave. Seinfeld will continue in perpetual reruns. It has been sold in syndication through at least 2006.

"They'll be replaying this for years and years," Mr. Wren said.

But that's no consolation for Nancy. She wants more.

"All the jokes are going to eventually get old, and you're not going to have anything else to say," she said.

Associated Press reports were used in this article.


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