Seinfeld’s coming to Netflix.
In a far-reaching deal that could represent Jerry Seinfeld’s first return to scripted series since “Seinfeld” ended in 1998, the streaming service announced Tuesday that he’ll also produce two stand-up specials. In addition, his short-form series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” will join later this year.
Netflix sought to emphasize the “Comedians in Cars” news — significant enough in itself — but what’s momentous here is the small print. According to the Netflix release, “Seinfeld will help develop scripted and non-scripted comedy programming for Netflix, with additional elements of the deal announced later.”
Other than a short-lived unscripted series for NBC from 2011 — “The Marriage Ref” — and “Bee Movie” from 2007, Seinfeld may well be the world’s most famous underemployed working comedian.
Not — ahem — that Seinfeld isn’t working. He, of course, maintains an active stand-up career and has a series of shows at the Beacon Theatre from mid-February through April. But “Comedians in Cars” essentially represents the bulk of his TV output — or online output, if you will — since “Seinfeld” ended nineteen years ago this April.
Other than “Comedians” — which launched on Crackle in 2012 — the Netflix specifics were rather vague, and largely comprised a series of statements:
“When I first started thinking about ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,’ the entire Netflix business model consisted of mailing out DVDs in envelopes,” Seinfeld said. “I love that we are now joining together, both at very different points. I am really quite charged up to be moving there.”
Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content boss, said, “Jerry is known the world over as both a great TV innovator and beloved comic voice. We are incredibly proud to welcome him to the Netflix comedy family.”
Meanwhile, there are questions, and tantalizing ones, all: Could Seinfeld perhaps create a series in which he would indeed star? And what kind of series? Would it be about nothing or — for a change of pace — about something this time?
Would he write the series? Or — like Louis CK — create something for a pal, like “Better Things” for Pamela Adlon?
“Comedians” has been a notable success for Seinfeld, and a prestigious close-up for those lucky enough to get asked out for a cup of coffee with Jerry. Indeed, recent editions suggest if you get asked, you don’t decline either. Guests from last season included fellow Long Islander Judd Apatow, J.B. Smoove, John Oliver, Margaret Cho, Jim Gaffigan and “SNL” czar Lorne Michaels.
Episodes from all previous seasons will also stream on Netflix. The ninth season launched in early January.