The table-reads were a disaster, the network hated the scripts and the writers worried theyd ruined the whole show from the Chinese Restaurant to the Contest, heres the truth behind the sitcoms best bits
The Chinese Restaurant
Jeremiah Bosgang and his boss Rick Ludwin found themselves in a real bind after a table-read for a Seinfeld episode in 1991. The script theyd just heard had Elaine, George and Jerry doing nothing except waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant. There was no action beyond a pay phone call and an attempt to bribe the maitre d. The pair had championed many of the shows stranger moments, but now they were considering shutting it down.
Theyd been worried about the script from the get-go. Was this thing missing pages or something? There was no story! What would the other NBC executives say? To Bosgang, it confirmed the networks worst fears about Larry David and Seinfeld that they couldnt hack it making a sitcom long-term. They didnt think they could sell a concept this flimsy. Theyd gone to the table-read in hopes of seeing progress but thered been no change. Now they sat in Bosgangs car and agreed that killing the script was too provocative. David, especially, would not take this lightly. But they also knew how precarious Seinfelds future was. They had to say something.
Indeed, David balked even when Ludwin said gingerly If you feel passionate about this, which you obviously do, go do it, and well hope for the best. He took David for a walk around the lot and allowed him to vent. David was adamant it was a funny half-hour of television about lifes little frustrations. It was Seinfeld. If the network didnt like this, they didnt like the show.
In fact, the script baffled even the man who played the Chinese restaurant host. Actor James Hong expressed his confusion. The director Tom Cherones saw it as similar to his own early feelings about the show. That doesnt matter, he told Hong. Just go with it.