KRAMER ON KRAMER
Michael Richards may be forever re membered as Kramer ó the wackiest of the four friends on “Seinfeld” and the originator of countless get-rich-quick schemes ó but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t drive a hard bargain in real life.
There was some very tough negotiating involved before the beloved “show about nothing” could finally come out tomorrow on DVD, where it is expected to be one of the top sellers in the medium’s history.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
As of last December, Richards was holding out for more money to film new on-camera appearances and record commentary tracks ó as were former castmates Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) and Jason Alexander (George).
Seinfeld himself and the series’ co-creator, Larry David, were already assured the lions’ share of DVD residuals.
“At the last minute they came through,” Richards told The Post, referring to compensation offered by the DVD’s distributor, Columbia/Tri-Star, as well as its producer, Castle Rock Productions.
“We’re cutting new ground for residuals on DVD, just as we did [for syndication] when we signed contracts to renew for the series in 1997.
“We knew that if we put up a united front, eventually they would come through with what we wanted,” Richards said with a laugh.
He wouldn’t give specifics on the deal, but Richards, Louis-Dreyfuss and Alexander reportedly received $13 million apiece for the show’s last season.
There’s plenty of yada yada ó both audio and on-camera commentaries ó on the DVDs. The season-three set also includes a documentary devoted to Richards’ development of the Kramer character, as well as an interview with Kenny Kramer, the real-life neighbor of Larry David who inspired the TV Kramer.
Recording the commentaries ó which fans expected for the DVD release ó “was kind of fun, and it was kind of like a reunion,” said Richards, who confessed he had never seen most of the episodes before.
Richards was recruited for the show by David, with whom he had worked on a late-night series called “Fridays,” over the initial objections of Seinfeld. Jerry wanted another actor to play Kramer, who was called Kessler in the pilot because of legal concerns.
During the series’ nine seasons, Richards always wore the same pair of shoes ó which were constantly resoled ó and demolished three copies of the door to Jerry’s apartment during his energetic trademark entrances.
Perhaps the most serious actor of the four leads, Richards admits he sometimes lost his cool after his co-stars blew their lines, which was often ó but in a large selection of bloopers, Richards is never, ever seen breaking character.
By the end of the show’s fourth season, Seinfeld-mania had reached such heights in the U.S. that Richards decided to get away from it all and took a trip to Bali.
“But even when I went deep into the tropical jungle, they were calling me ‘Kramer, Kramer.’ ” he says with a laugh.
KRAMER ON KRAMER