Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Seinfeld is a jerk
So I tuned into David Letterman on Monday night because former Yankees manager Joe Torre was a scheduled guest. As an added bonus, Jerry Seinfeld was also on the show. Wow, I thought, this is great! I've been a fan of Seinfeld since the beginning. Since before the beginning—when he was just a stand-up comedian on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Seinfeld was there to promote his new animated movie, Bee Movie, about a Seinfeld-esque bee who leaves the hive and has adventure in the human world.
At one point during the interview, I was surprised that the subject of Jerry's wife's alleged plagiarism came up. Jessica Seinfeld has a cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, just published by HarperCollins, that gives recipes on how to slip healthy food into your childrens diets by mashing up veggies and such and putting them into other foods that a child is more inclined to eat, like a brownie. The problem is that The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals, a very similar book by an author named Missy Chase Lapine is already in print, published by Running Press in April 2007. At one point Lapine even submitted the book to HarperCollins, who rejected it. So when Jessica Seinfeld's book hit the shelves with a big splashy promotion budget and an appearance on Oprah, Lapine cried foul. Or more accurately, plagiarism. Which is understandable.
But on Letterman, Seinfeld explained the situation by repeatedly calling Lapine (who he didn't mention by name) a "wacko." He said "So this woman says, `I sense this could be my wacko moment.' So she comes out ... and she accuses my wife. She says, `You stole my mushed-up carrots. You can't put mushed-up carrots in a casserole. I put mushed-up carrots in a casserole. It's vegetable plagiarism.'" He even compared her to the "wackos" who have stalked David Letterman. It was actually uncomfortable to watch.
What an asshole. I realize he was going for the easy laughs, and that most people watching probably weren't aware of the specifics of the case. So they took him at his word. But fuck shit, if I submitted a book that was rejected, and then Seinfeld's wife published a very similar one with the same publisher that had rejected mine—I'd definitely point it out too. Unfortunately, that's how publishing works. People steal ideas, and yes, people also come up with the same ideas independently. But it doesn't make you a "wacko" if you want the situation looked into.
Lapine didn't deserve to be attacked so viscously on such a public platform. Isn't it enough that her idea was (allegedly) stolen by a celebrity's wife? That her book will never match the sales of someone who had the good sense to dump her husband right after the honeymoon to marry Jerry Seinfeld? Does she deserve to be labeled a "wacko"? I don't think so.
"It was painful to be called names on national TV," Lapine said, "when I am just a mom who wrote a cookbook to help parents get their kids to eat well."