Featured in The Daily News, Batavia, NY, November 5, 2015
Featured in The Daily News, Batavia, NY, November 5, 2015
If you have been living in some sort of time warp, trapped in 1998, you don’t know that Hulu recently paid a lot of money for exclusive streaming rights to everyone’s favorite show about nothing: Seinfeld. Longtime fans and first-time viewers have been able to watch since this past Wednesday, June 24, a date that also saw Hulu welcoming the public to their own recreation of Jerry’s iconic apartment here in New York.
On West 14th Street, 67 blocks from Jerry’s fictional Upper West Side address, fans are treated to the full Seinfeld experience. For those of us who do not live in New York and couldn’t be here on weekdays, much of our time was spent in line. The line wrapped one block three times, and a second line formed the next block over. The weather was in our favor for a long time but eventually gave way to a light rain with nary an umbrella twirler in sight.
Once inside, the experience splits in two. To the right is a collection of props from the series, including the booth from Monk’s and George’s Frogger machine. Here is also the opportunity to shoot a George Constanza-style boudoir photo and try your hand at standup comedy. To the left is our main attraction, the apartment itself. There is only one way in — bursting through the door like Cosmo Kramer.
Stepping inside is like stepping into your television. The apartment, carefully researched, and refined over the past few days after fans pointed out a few errors, is an almost perfect replica of 5A, a set I studied for hours in preparation for LEGO Seinfeld. The designers got small things right, such as Jerry’s movie shelf including Nintendo games as well as movies. Though the apartment changed over the course of the series, the essence is intact in this recreation. Hulu did leave out one important detail, which may be the most important of them all: Not once did I see anyone exercising the gaskets in Jerry’s toilet.
The time spent inside seems like nothing after the four-hour wait to get in, but for a Seinfeld fan, a lover of pop culture or a historian (because Seinfeld is a part of history), it was well worth the wait.
Fans came from all around. I traveled from Rochester, New York, (my travel expenses can be a write-off), while those around me in line came from as close as Jersey City and as far as Toronto. Fans were of all ages, as well, thanks to the timelessness of the series’ situational and social conflicts.
I spoke to two young fans, Tyler and TJ from New Jersey, 10 and 8. They watch Seinfeld with their dad, and despite being born seven and nine years after the series ended are big fans. TJ’s weirdest moment is the presumed death of George, when his car is in the Yankees’ parking lot but George is nowhere to be seen. Tyler has different priorities, choosing Sue-Ellen Mischke’s choice of apparel as his weirdest moment. The differences between the world they are growing up in and New York in the 90s don’t matter to them.
Visitors to the Seinfeld experience were all thrilled to here. For most, if not all, it is the only chance to see this television icon (even as a replica), and, for just a few minutes, feel like you’ve come home.
Hulu’s Seinfeld apartment and experience will open for the last time at 10:00 Sunday morning at 14th Street and 10th Avenue in New York. Arrive early to beat the crowd.
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Despite the water shortage here in Southern California, I am pleased to report that most people I have encountered seem to have showered between yesterday and today. So far, day two of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim is off to a good start. After an early swing through the LEGO Play Area
(to assert my dominance as a LEGO builder)(to pick up the second set of posters and free mini-build), it was back to the autograph hall.
Anthony Daniels, the man who has been inside C-3PO for nearly four decades, was in a surprisingly good mood, but the big surprise of the morning was the literal marriage of sci-fi and sport. Ashley Eckstein, better known as Ahsoka Tano, star of The Clone Wars, was escorted by her husband, World Series MVP David Eckstein.
Always eager to learn something new about the movies I love, the next stop was the Secrets of the Mos Eisley Cantina panel. Over the course of 39 years, Star Wars scholars have managed to give a name to each actor who appeared in the iconic scene, which was filmed on sets in England and in California. One lucky audience member had the chance to name one of the cantina patrons who survived a quarter-century of Expanded Universe novels without an identity.
Speaking of the Mos Eisley cantina, which seems to be a recurring theme of my week so far, it was packed this afternoon, with alien and human patrons celebrating… something. Maybe it’s the newest LEGO Star Wars TV series, Droid Tales. This new mini-series, premiering in July on Disney XD, follows the adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO through the timeline of Episodes I-VI, and the comedy antics that made two unsuspecting droids the greatest heroes the galaxy has ever known.
Five episodes cover the events of each movie, as well as parts of The Clone Wars and Rebels, and are littered with happenings that took place off-camera. I won’t say the writers are pandering to adult fans, since it is meant for children, but I watched Jar Jar Binks die twice in the five minutes of clips we saw here today. I’m not sure if this series was announced here in Anaheim, but the first I heard of it was yesterday, when it was featured on the back of the LEGO Star Wars posters.
I had one more encounter with Dave Filoni, but a dry marker and eager chauffeur left me without an autograph yet again.
Boba Fett – 6
Wolverine/Boba Fett mashup – 1
If you haven’t been watching Star Wars Rebels, it might be time to catch up before the Season 2 premiere this fall.
The trailer for the upcoming season, which has certainly leaked or been posted officially by now, shows a series that, despite airing on Disney XD, had a room of adult fans cheering. With the return of some old friends — both from the original trilogy and Star Wars: The Clone Wars — and the appearance of many original trilogy and prequel-era vehicles, no one can deny that this is Star Wars.
There were a few surprises, with one particular character introduction bringing the crowd to its feet and tears to some eyes.
More on Star Wars Rebels coming later today with the Season 2 premiere.
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To say that the Star Wars Celebration convention is huge would be an understatement. After seven hours here, there is still an entire exhibit hall of vendors and artists that I haven’t seen. Somewhere in the vast sea of George Lucas beard doubles, dazed parents who thought this would be a quiet place to take their young children and stormtroopers who are taking their uniform a little too seriously, there is an exhibit of costumes and props from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I haven’t seen it. I’m not sure if I want to see it, as someone who has gone the past few months without seeing the first teaser for the movie, and the past few hours without seeing the second.
The second half of the first day of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, the seventh event to be held in the United States (and second in California) was equally eventful. I walked into another Star Wars director, this time the man with an Indiana Jones-like devotion to his hat, Dave Filoni, supervising director of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series and executive producer of Star Wars Rebels (I’ll be reporting on the second season premiere on Saturday). I didn’t get a chance to speak to him, or have him sign my Ahsoka Tano action figure, but he seemed relieved when told by a young boy that Rebels is “getting better.”
There are a few food vendors inside the convention center, a line of food trucks outside and a small bar tucked to one side selling beer. The highlight of the food scene here in Anaheim is not the Wookiee Fries advertised on one of the food trucks, but this replica of the Mos Eisley cantina I mentioned earlier as the site of the JJ Abrams sighting. Perched on the opposite side is everyone’s favorite space yeti, known to the fans here as Muftak. Personally, I’m hoping to see autograph guest John Ratzenberger perched next to him at some point discussing the rigors of interplanetary postal service.
Ewoks (humans in costume) — 7
Ewoks (dogs in costume) — 1
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Anaheim Convention Center — We are hours into the first day of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, and there is an entire galaxy worth of Star Wars fans in attendance. The main event, with Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm president and executive producer of the next installment to our saga, The Force Awakens, and JJ Abrams, the film’s director, stole the show. From the sunny sidewalk, I saw photos of BB-8, the spherical astro droid, and heard a rowdy line, waiting to be let in to the building, fall silent as the second teaser trailer for the movie made its way online.
If you wanted to see that panel in person, the line for the main stage — the Anaheim Convention Center Arena — was full at 11 o’clock last night. Four additional rooms were available to view it live, simulcast to another few thousand people.
As is the case with these events, much of it has been down to luck, contrary to Ben Kenobi’s beliefs. Turning a corner to a life-size replica of the classic Mos Eisley cantina, I found myself face-to-many-faces with the fourth director of the Star Wars saga, Mr. Abrams himself, along with a legion of his shiny new troops and a Princess Leia who shared the same bushy mustache as Nintendo’s Mario. You really never know what is going to happen on the convention floor.
Han Solo — 4
Sexy Han Solo — 12