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An Interview with Fred Stoller, Writer of My Seinfeld Year

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2012

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Your Amazon Kindle single (isn't there a better word for it?) My Seinfeld Year - in a few words, what is it about?

 

It's about my season as a staff writer on Seinfeld, and the aftermath after being brought back to do a guest star appearance on the show.

 

Your stint as a writer on Seinfeld dates back to 1994/95, right? Why write about it now?

 

I suppose the technology caught up with me. Kindle Singles are very successful and a way to tell a story that doesn't quite add up to a book, but is larger than a magazine article. I'm amazed at how Seinfeld still holds up today. I always wanted to write my version of My Favorite Year, a film about writing on the biggest show on Television, but my version is much more dizzying.

 

How would you describe the creative process of writing an episode of Seinfeld - and were there instances where you had to give up good ideas or were censored just to stay in tone with the overall concept of the series?

 


It was for the most part not at all collaborative. It was very isolating. Writers were not encouraged to help others. Everyone was trying to get their own stories approved. One time I heard another writer was struggling to fit in a missing piece, so I offered her a storyline. She thanked me, but I never got a story credit for my contribution.

 

Like Jerry's character on Seinfeld, you have a background in standup comedy. Did that at all help to relate to the scripts you were working on?

 

It helped in the sense my act was about being socially inept, so my story ideas always leaned toward George's character. I think stand-up comedians always have an innate sense of timing that always translates to other forms of writing they pursue.

 

Without giving away too much of My Seinfeld Year, what was the backstage atmosphere like when working on the series?

 

The actual actors were all very cordial to each other. Jerry and Larry kept everyone in order. There was an incident after the table reading of the episode I wrote I went to Michael Richards and told him sorry that some things for him were cut by Larry David. Richards pleaded with me to put back the physical comedy. It was obvious he was intimidated by David.

 

You have written for TV or movies only very sporadically since leaving Seinfeld - did the work on the series actually have a discouraging effect on you (or am I seeing something that just isn't there)?

 

It was a combination of doing a guest star on Seinfeld, which led to a lot of guest star roles and I thought that was the path to take, all these jobs coming to me for a while fairly effortlessly. And yes, the staff writing experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

 

After having left Seinfeld as a writer, you did return to the series as an actor for one episode, right? What was it like to return to the series, and did you notice any change since your departure?

 

It was a lot less stressful returning as an actor. You're only there to do your part, so you don't get wrapped up in the chaos of the show.

 

You started your showbusiness career doing standup comedy, right? How did you get into that, and how would you describe yourself, the standup comedian?

 

with Selena Gomez from

Wizards of Waverly Place

I got into stand-up comedy mainly because it seemed accessible. All you had to do was hang out at comedy clubs and hope someone would put you in a TV show or something. Of course it wasn't that easy. And then I got caught up in the comedy boom of the 80's, started getting gigs although I was a very low key comic and my jokes were subtle. I never loved being on stage. I just saw that as a means to breaking into other areas of show-business.

 

For the last 2+ decades, you have guest-starred in pretty much every sitcom there was, from Seinfeld, Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond via My Name is Earl, Scrubs and Til Death to Wizards of Waverly Place and Hannah Montana. Do you have especially fond memories of any of the series you've been on, did you hate any in particular?

 

I loved Wizards of Waverly Place because it didn't have the uptight self-importance of some higher caliber shows. It knew it was a silly kids show and it didn't take itself too seriously. Everyone was so down to earth. For cache, no show lives on like Seinfeld. Raymond sort of comes close.

 

In a phrase, how would you describe yourself as an actor? And how do you usually approach your roles?

 

I try to not complicate things. I know I have this misfit persona that comes naturally and understand I don't fit into puzzles well.

 

You have also done a lot of voicework of late. What can you tell us about that aspect of your career, and how does it differ from acting in front of a camera?

 

Voice work is great, a very low stressful job. It's very concentrated on you and they make sure they get what they need and get it right there. It's not hurried or frantic. I was a series regular on Handy Manny, a kid's show and it afforded me to not be desperate and chase the buck going on miserable cattle-call auditions for parts I know I'm not right for. This desperation away, allowed me to be more creative and write the kindle single and other projects.

 

Not too long ago, you have written and starred in the film Fred & Vinnie - you just have to talk about that movie for a bit!

 

Fred and Vinnie was one of those labor of love projects I did. It was based on a true quirky friendship I had with this friend who I describe as the adoring patent I never had. Since He stayed in his home, he loved hearing any story I had about venturing to the outside world. Soon though he visited me, and that's where things got strained and sort of sad. We won some festival awards, but still are trying to get distribution.

 

According to my information you are currently working on your memoirs called Maybe We'll Have You Back as well as a one-man show based on it. Would you care to talk about that project of yours?

 

That's actually a whole book about what it's like being a guest star actor looking for a home in showbiz and in life. I'm trying out portions in little theaters.

 

Other future projects you'd like to talk about?

 

Writing other screenplays hoping to get produced.

 

Feeling lucky ?
Want to
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Find Fred Stoller
at the amazons ...

USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

Looking for imports ?
Find Fred Stoller here ...

Thailand  eThaiCD.com
Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Fred Stoller at adultvideouniverse.com

Your advice for aspiring writers, actors, comedians who want to make it in the business?

 

Don't do what I did and try things out on people and ask if they're what people are looking for. Read and write every day. Don't hold onto one thing as your thing. Put it aside and move on and keep being creative.

 

Writers, actors, comedians, whoever else who inspire you?

 

Quentin Tarantino, Louis C.K., Steve Buscemi

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Shawshank Redemption, Hair, Dog Day Afternoon.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

Bromance films with stereotypes.

 

Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

Twitter: @Fred_Stoller 

http://fredstoller.tv

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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