50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays: Sam Henry Kass

This is just what the name implies: Each week, I ask someone interesting a question and request that she/he respond in 50 words or less.

Or somewhere in the ballpark of 50 words. That’s why there’s an “-ish.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this site isn’t exactly a bastion of rigidity.

Sam Henry KassThis week I’m pleased to be joined by Sam Henry Kass, writer/director of the cult classic film The Search for One-Eye Jimmy featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Sam Rockwell, and Jennifer Beals. He is also writer/director/creator of the Web series Star-ving, which starred David Faustino and Corin Nemec and had appearances by Ed O’Neill, Christina Applegate, Ed Asner, and Gilbert Gottfried, among others.

As a playwright, Sam’s works include the long-running Off-Broadway hit Lusting After Pipino’s Wife, SIDDOWN!!! (Conversations With the Mob), and Welcome Back, 29ers. And in television, he was an executive consultant on a little show you may have heard of called Seinfeld.

Now if you’ve visited my site before (maybe for Fred Stoller’s 50 Words or The Great Seinfeld Watch), you can probably guess where I was going to go with Sam’s question, especially considering his time on the greatest TV show of all-time (my words) included a writing credit on one of its most seminal episodes.

You wrote “The Switch” episode of Seinfeld, in which we finally learn Kramer’s first name. What was it like working on a script charged with revealing such a big piece of information?

At the time, “The Switch” episode was treated like a C.I.A. operation—at least by everyone but me. Hush, hush all around. Every draft of the script that went out to NBC had Kramer’s first name xxxx-ed out. We wouldn’t even tell the network what the name was.

I never really followed rules much; perhaps that’s why school didn’t quite work out. …  So basically, I spilled the beans to everyone back in Brooklyn concerning the “name” being Cosmo. This was pre-social networking luckily, or I probably would’ve been arrested for entertainment treason.

When the episode was actually shot, we used a few decoy names. Larry David must’ve thought he was the Jewish version of J. Edgar Hoover the way he had security monitoring the stage. The one thing he forgot to do was to keep an eye on my then-seven-year-old son. During filming he yelled out to me from the audience:

“His name is Cosmo, right Dad?”

Indeed it was. And I believe the French pronounce it “ménage à trois.”

Sorry—wrong line. But amazingly, it’s from the same episode and the storyline that actually gave it its name, “The Switch.” You know it was an unbelievable half-hour of television when Cosmo didn’t even get top billing.

Huge thanks to Sam for stopping by this week. If I’m not careful, my site is going to become a hangout for former Seinfeld writers.

Which would be the best thing ever.

Interested in being featured in “50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays” or know someone who should be (Seinfeld alumni status not required)? Let me know. Also, feel free to check out the archive of past guests. But no pressure.

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