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Orem • It was a testament to the ongoing appeal of "Seinfeld" that several hundred college students many of whom weren't born when the sitcom debuted in 1989 turned out Tuesday night to see second-banana Jason Alexander at Utah Valley University.
The students gave three standing ovations to the self-proclaimed "reluctant and befuddled celebrity," who said he's never quite understood why actors get that kind of reaction from people.
Astronaut John Glenn, yes. Actors even Robert DeNiro no. And particularly not actors who became famous playing someone like George Costanza, his arrogant and insecure character on "Seinfeld."
And Alexander is definitely not George.
"How much is my personality similar to George's? Oh, God, I hope not much," he said.
Alexander, sporting a pretty good hairpiece, was in the midst of a three-day visit to UVU to work with acting students. He's teaching the "master classes" he's been doing around the country for the past 10 or 12 years, and he said he was a bit taken aback to be speaking to the large crowd that gathered Tuesday night.
"I said, 'Oh sure,' and then prepared absolutely nothing," he said to much laughter. "You think I'm kidding. I have no idea what I'm going to say next."
So he launched into an autobiography, with particular emphasis on the year 1989. That's when he ended up in a show he "did not want to do" "Jerome Robbins' Broadway." For which he won a Tony.
"The Tony somehow led to me being cast in 'Pretty Woman' " even though director Garry Marshall "categorically" did not want him for the film. And that film led to him auditioning for and being cast in "Seinfeld" which changed his life forever.
"The point of it all being if I tried to engineer the right choices in my career, I would not have been able to do it," Alexander said.
"I fell into a career," he said. "So the one thing I cannot talk about is how to go from an amateur career to a professional career because the way it happened to me was just a miracle.
"And I have been so surprised by where it has taken me."
Including UVU, where his presentation included acting exercises with students who volunteered to participate. Which is when the audience started to get restless. But he managed to bring them back.
And he gave them what they wanted.
"People go, 'Are you tired of talking about 'Seinfeld?' " Alexander said. "Yes, but I'll do it for you."