The One About Michael Richards

Michael Richards chasing us out of his house
Michael Richards chasing us out of his house
Michael Richards chasing us out of his house

Have I told you my story about Michael Richards?

In 2001, the British Comedy Awards gave the Seinfeld show their award for best International comedy. The show was scheduled to air in December, 2001, tragically just months after the Terror attacks in New York, D.C and Pennsylvania, so naturally people were still a little shaky about flying, and so in lieu of traveling halfway around the globe, Michael Richards decided to send a short film, which I was asked to make, and in the process found out the naked truth: that life truly can be stranger (and funnier) than fiction. The piece was inter-cut by the BCA with an interview someone else shot with Jerry Seinfeld. here is the video the way it was broadcast in jolly old England.

The story of what really happened, I think is much more ridiculous and funny than that, as real life can sometimes spiral out of control into a realm few could imagine would ever really happen. This really happened. Really.

When I was first contacted by his management company, I was simply going to Mr. Richards house and taping his acceptance. Time was very tight and I barely had enough of it to get my gear together, go to his house, record his speech and get the tape into DHL in time for the last flight to London, a day before the awards show. Then they called me back and said Michael has decided he wants to do a skit. Can you pretend to be a camera crew from the BBC? So I enlisted the help of my british friend Tony Walsh to play the BBC Reporter and we trundled up to Michael Richards house to “break in” and ask him how he feels about being honored by the British Comedy Awards.

Unfortunately Vimeo no longer has the reel of our uncut version streaming but trust me it was very entertaining, however the best part came after we finished shooting.

In the film, Mr. Richards chases us out of his house after we find him in the shower. Naturally he is buck naked. He pushes us out of the house, threatening to call the cops, out through the yard and into the street. It was very funny. Only after we cut the camera does he realize he has closed the big, heavy wooden front door and locked us all out of the house. Tick tock… I have barely enough time to get the tape to the DHL office and cannot wait around for his assistant to show up with the spare key to let us in and gather my lights or our shoes (that Mr. Richards wouldn’t let us keep on in his house), so Tony and I decide to go to DHL and leave my assistant there to get our stuff once the door has been opened.

On our way to the office we, of course, had a laugh talking about how odd it must be for my Assistant to be sitting in the backyard with a naked Kramer waiting for the keys to unlock his house. Only later did we find out that before his assistant would make it to the house, a gentleman arrived to deliver the Christmas tree Mr. Richards had ordered.

So, there was my assistant and Michael Richards, literally hanging out in his yard when who shows up but a guy with a giant Christmas Tree, who is likely equal parts surprised at the fact that his delivery is to a naked man, as he is that said naked man is Kramer from the Seinfeld show. Naturally, he blurts out the first thing that must have popped into his head, which was, “Cosmo!”

As I’ve mentioned, I wasn’t there, but I imagine he said this with as much dignity as he could muster considering the circumstances, but Kramers’ reply was reportedly, “I prefer Michael… or Mr. Richards.” I can’t tell you whether or not he gave the guy a tip.

Author: Jeff Gatesman

I am a Cinematographer and still photographer. My favorite places are behind a camera or in front of a big screen.

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