It’s been 17 years since Seinfeld ended its run, and there are still things about the series lore that some of us don’t already know. Last year, via a Mike Ryan interview with Larry Charles, we learned about an episode that Larry Charles wrote, but it was so dark that the director Tom Cherones and Julia Louis-Dreyfus nixed it. It was called “The Gun,” and the script for that episode also revealed Kramer’s original first name, Conrad.
Now, thanks to this New York Post piece this about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt today, we know about another nixed script, this time by the network itself:
NBC censors pretty much let Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David get away with whatever they wanted on “Seinfeld.” One of the few exceptions was a proposed episode in which George got in trouble for observing, “You know, I have never seen a black person order a salad.”
Uh-uh, said NBC. An entire episode on masturbation? Fine by us. But there will no joking about the dietary habits of African-Americans on this show. The script was nixed.
I had no idea, but as Kyle Schmidt argued on behalf of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and David Free argued her on behalf of Tina Fey’s other sitcom, 30 Rock, it’s exactly the kind of joke that the two Fey sitcoms can get away with because they have black representation in their casts while Seinfeld did not:
But the one taboo that Seinfeld conspicuously didn’t take on was race. Unlike 30 Rock, the show had no permanent black cast members. It was therefore poorly positioned to defy America’s ultimate no-no. Students of Seinfeld lore will know that the staff writer Larry Charles once pitched a storyline in which George got himself into trouble by observing that he’d never seen a black person order a salad. But the idea was deemed too controversial to proceed with.
I was also able to track down the presumed source for that bit of fascinating but arcane trivia. It surfaced in Dennis Bjorklund’s Seinfeld Reference: The Complete Encyclopedia, first published in 2010. Interestingly, that book also reveals that Carol Leifer — another Seinfeld‘s regular writers — also had two storylines nixed, one in which Kramer sued a bar over Ladies’ Night, and another in which Kramer played a guinea pig in a medical lab.
According to the book, there were at least three other unused ideas for scripts, including an all-claymation episode, a musical episode (pitched by Jason Alexander) and a subplot in which Paul McCartney was hiding in Newman’s apartment for no apparent reason.
Source: Seinfeld Reference: The Complete Encyclopedia with Biographies, Character Profiles & Episode Summaries