Kramer vs. Kramer is an Oscar-winning film about divorce.
Kramer vs. Stoller was a case of art imitating life imitating parody masquerading as reality. At any rate, case dismissed.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe exonerated Fred Stoller and Skyhorse Publishing with her ruling Monday, dismissing the defamation claims of Kenny Kramer and Kramer’s Reality Tours over the use of a famous Seinfeld quote: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
In Stoller’s book, “Maybe We’ll Have You Back: The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star,” he writes about his various life and career experiences — which included parts on Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends, and Seinfeld, where he not only guest-starred but also wrote on the sitcom for a year (which he recounted in the 2012 Kindle Single, “My Seinfeld Year”).
“I never thought anyone would be upset,” Stoller told The Comic’s Comic. “Some who read the book thought Kathy Griffin would be because I discussed our salacious one-night stand, but she loved it. Norm Macdonald didn’t care that one of my chapters was called “Norm Stole My Jacket” when he had me on his podcast. It’s just a quirky memoir. Hopefully my accuser will not be so upset at some point.”
That accuser was the real Kramer who inspired the Seinfeld character.
In Stoller’s chapter, “Kramer’s Reality,” he described going on Kramer’s Reality Tour in 1996. Two bus trips, actually. Per Kramer’s request. Stoller noted that the employee leading the bus tour shouted several catchphrases from Seinfeld and encouraged passengers to do likewise.
“I just shook my head, amazed that a show as brilliant as Seinfeld could be so lamed down,” wrote Stoller. “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!'”
Kramer alleged his buses don’t even go through Greenwich Village, let alone have their tour operators shout out that line. And claimed Stoller’s depiction of the tour in his 2013 book had hurt Kramer’s business and his reputation.
Never mind how many times you may have spoken or heard “Not that’s there’s anything wrong with that” in the 21 years since the Feb. 11, 1993, episode, “The Outing.”
Justice Jaffe noted how ubiquitous that phrase had become. Jaffe wrote in her ruling: “On its face, the phrase expressly conveys the notion that there is nothing wrong with being gay. In that respect, it cannot be considered homophobic. That the phrase is not expressly homophobic, however, does not mean that it is not reasonably susceptible of a homophobic meaning. In other words, is there really anything wrong with it?”
So she was left with the quote itself.
You can read the entire ruling here.
To wit, Jaffe ruled that no matter if the quote is repeated sincerely or satirically, Stoller wasn’t ascribing it to Kramer personally, nor was he defaming him in doing so.
Stoller issued this statement to his Facebook friends yesterday:
Today is a wonderful, long awaited day. I have been granted the news that the New York County Supreme Court has dismissed the defamation lawsuit against me and my publisher for my memoirs, “Maybe We’ll Have You Back.” Though the last few months have been nerve-racking to say the least, I am heartened by the scores of you who have lent your support. So many people, some I didn’t even know reached out so generously. I will appreciate you forever. First and foremost I want to thank David Albert Pierce and Mirzaian Azita of Pierce Law Group who represented me and patiently answered all my questions, some I still don’t understand. Thanks to all who generously attended or supported my fundraiser, and to those who reassured me to be patient and that eventually sanity will prevail.
Having my book published was a labor of love ten years in the making, the thing I’m most proud of in my career. In my quest to be published it was never my intent to upset, anger, or “get” anyone. I just wanted to tell my story, and hopefully amuse, connect to, and inform people. Never did I think anyone would be so disturbed by my story that they’d need to file a lawsuit. Now that this burden has been lifted, I can spend my time more productively going back to being annoyed by the kids running around and screaming at Farmer’s Market and the pushy Kiosk vendors at The Grove. Again, thank you all!
So why not buy Stoller’s book here! Now!
And here’s a long talk between Fred Stoller and Jerry Stiller to promote the book, from last year at The Strand: