Steven Spielberg’s ‘Seinfeld’ Fandom Inspired the Inappropriate ‘Schindler’s List’ Storyline

The legendary director inadvertently inspired Jerry’s controversial make-out session.
Steven Spielberg’s ‘Seinfeld’ Fandom Inspired the Inappropriate ‘Schindler’s List’ Storyline

Baffling allusions to the January 6th riots aside, Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy these days is about as edgy as a Nerf body pillow. But back in the ‘90s, Seinfeld wasn’t without its button-pushing moments. In addition to the masturbation contest and the abortion debate/couch-defiling episode, Seinfeld risked stirring controversy with “The Raincoats,” in which Jerry is caught making out with his girlfriend during a screening of Schindler’s List.

Even Jerry Stiller, who, of course, played Frank Costanza, was worried that this storyline went too far. “I almost wanted to say to everybody, ‘You can’t have them necking in the balcony while they’re watching Schindler’s List,’” Stiller once admitted. “I just felt they had gone over the line with that one.”

As you may recall, the same episode guest-starred Judge Reinhold as Elaine’s “close-talker” boyfriend Aaron, who becomes disconcertingly attached to Jerry’s parents Morty and Helen.

As part of the promotional push for Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, Reinhold recently stopped by The Rich Eisen Show and shared some behind-the-scenes tidbits about his brief time on Seinfeld. For starters, he revealed that the real Jerry Seinfeld was genuinely “terrified” by all the close-talking, owing to his Howie Mandel-esque germaphobia. 

Also, Seinfeld and Larry David decided to “send-up” Schindler’s List specifically because they’d heard that its director, Steven Spielberg, was a fan of the show. “Larry and Jerry found out that Spielberg was watching Seinfeld episodes while he was shooting Schindler’s List,” Reinhold told Eisen. “So he’d go home and watch Seinfeld just to take a break from the awfulness.”

Seinfeld has previously admitted that they went ahead with the provocative storyline because “at that point, we felt there was nothing we couldn’t pull off” (other than an episode where Elaine shoves a gun in her friends’ faces and jokes about dead presidents, of course). “We also knew that Steven Spileberg was a fan of the show and thought he would get a kick out of it,” Seinfeld explained. 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus recalled that Spielberg even asked Castle Rock co-founder Alan Horn to send him copies of every Seinfeld episode ever made during the production of Schindler’s List because “he was so depressed while making the movie that he needed to go back to his hotel room and laugh at night.” Seinfeld has said that learning this fact was “one of the great moments in the history of the show.”

Spielberg himself has also gone on the record stating that Seinfeld helped him out during the shoot, as did phone calls from Robin Williams. “He would call and do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone. He never said bye. He hung up on the loudest laugh you gave him,” Spielberg told Variety.

Less clear is how Spielberg felt about Jerry getting handsy with his girlfriend during the Oscar-winning Holocaust drama. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).


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