The New York Supreme Court has dismissed a $1-million suit brought by Kenny “The Real” Kramer, the inspiration for Seinfeld character Cosmo Kramer, against Fred Stoller, one of the show’s writers, and his publishing company, according to court documents dated July 4th.
In the suit, Kramer claimed Stoller wrote “malicious, false, and defamatory” things about him in his book, Maybe We'll Have You Back: The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star.
Kramer’s complaint points to Chapter 22 of Stoller’s memoir, titled “Kramer’s Reality,” a reference to Kramer’s Seinfeld-themed tour business, Kramer’s Reality Tours. Stoller wrote about two tours he took with Kramer’s company. From the court documents:
According to Stoller, [Kramer’s] employee ‘ran around the bus for over two hours, trying to keep the tourists excited by screaming out famous lines from Seinfeld (NYSCEF 8, Ehx. B). He recounts the employee crying out to the tourists, ‘Everyone, say it together, ‘No soup for you!’’ a popular Seinfeld catchphrase, and continues as follows:
Then [the employee would] point to a bum and say, ‘Everyone, he is picking his nose. Or as Jerry would say, ‘The Pick! The Pick!’
[The employee] had a slight lisp which caused him to spit on me when he led the crowd in a hearty chant of, ‘Hell-oooo, Newman!’
In spite of my distaste for the whole thing, Kramer prodded me to sit on the tour again. For the second day in a row, I had to hear [the employee] scream out all of the catchphrases by all of the same places. I’m sure the tourists were wondering why the Seinfeld guest star was covering his ears.
I just shook my head, amazed that a show as brilliant as Seinfeld could be so lamed down. In the gay-dominated Greenwich Village, I had to hear [the employee] make everyone scream out, ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that!’ Once wasn’t embarrassing enough, so he’d scream it out again like some sort of deranged cheerleader, ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that!’
Many of the bus riders had seen me on the show and seemed excited that I was on the tour. I was happy to tell them some of my stories before getting on the bus, but once the tour started, I just couldn’t hide the pain I was in. I rode with my hands pressed hard against the side of my head to drown out Kramer and [the employee’s] schtick.
In his suit, Kramer claimed his company’s tours “[do] not travel through Greenwich Village nor did [he] or his employees ever make such statements.” Kramer said Stoller’s description of the tours amounted to a false accusation that Kramer was “taunting persons from the gay community,” thereby “[damaging] his reputation in the gay community, negatively affecting his career as an entertainer and causing him emotional harm, and intentionally [damaging] Reality Tours’s business reputation, frustrating its ability to attract customers, and resulting in lost income.”
New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe disagreed. In order to prove that Stoller’s description of the tour amounted to an accusation of homophobia, the court said, Kramer needed to prove that “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” is a homophobic statement, either “on its face,” or that it is “reasonably susceptible of being interpreted” as homophobic. It was neither, the court found, and dismissed the case.
Kramer plans to appeal. He insists his suit isn’t just about homophobia. Rather, he told Newsweek in a phone interview, his complaint “was the entire seven pages of the chapter was filled with lies and derogatory information” about him. “Unfortunately, my representation was not adequate,” he said. “Turns out that the attorney who represented me...you know, ten people in the entire North America that have never seen an episode of Seinfeld, the guy that represented me was one of those ten."