For a guy with a hit show on Crackle of all places, Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t seem very interested in making friends with the creator community. At an Upfronts presentation hosted by Sony for its digital video platform Crackle, Seinfeld was asked to elaborate on his relationship with the web and why he chose comparatively little known Crackle as the home for his Emmy winning Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee rather than a host of other networks. The comic was quick to praise the internet, and his partners at Crackle, for offering him a higher degree of support and creative freedom than television. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before from creators who dabble in the web after a long career in television. What was more surprising was Seinfeld’s surprising declaration that the creative freedom he’s enjoying shouldn’t be extended to everyone.
When asked about the future of user generated content on the web, Seinfeld was less optimistic. The internet may be the future of television, but in his estimation, that future should be left to the professionals. “The less the better.” Seinfeld said in a transcript recorded by Tubefilter. “I don’t want to see this crap. We have a giant garbage can called YouTube for user-generated content. We’re trying to generate a little higher level. I think show business is for talent, that’s who should be in it. But let’s keep it in its hierarchy. And I like being at the top of the pyramid.”
The comments are a fairly significant reversal for Seinfeld who, just last year, described YouTube star Miranda Sings as “fantastically talented.” In fact, Seinfeld was so taken with Miranda’s comedic talents that he made her a guest on the most recent season of Comedians In Cars, placing her in the company of legendary talent like Mel Brooks, Chris Rock, Larry David and Amy Schumer. It’s a move that would seem to contradict his stated desire to enforce a strict hierarchy in show business. However, perhaps Seinfeld feels that his place “at the top of the pyramid” gives him the privilege to pick and choose.
Jerry Seinfeld describes YouTuber Miranda Sings as “fantastically talented” during an appearance on the David Letterman Show.
In truth, Seinfeld’s seemingly inflammatory comments probably have less to do with his feelings about YouTube and its content creator community and more to do with Crackle’s desire to rebrand itself. This year Sony’s platform pulled out of the Newfronts, the annual event in where digital platforms present their upcoming projects to advertisers, in favor of joining television’s similar but more glamorous Upfronts presentations.
It’s clear that Crackle, with Seinfeld as their chosen spokesman, would like to distance themselves from what they see as the digital content ghetto. “We feel that our content, which is long form and premium, is akin to what brands are looking for from TV Networks,” Crackle General Manager Eric Berger told the Wall Street Journal. Of course given how quickly the worlds of television and digital content are converging on platforms like Netflix and HBONow, it may soon become a distinction without a difference. When that time comes, it’s likely that Crackle, and Seinfeld, may regret issuing this slap in the face to their digital peers.
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