February 23, 2020

SNEAK PEEK: Seinfeld’s apartment gets an open house in West Hollywood

It’s a Festivus miracle: a West Hollywood storefront on Melrose Avenue has been transformed into an exact replica of Jerry Seinfeld’s New York apartment from the sitcom “Seinfeld,” opening to the public Dec. 16.

“Seinfeld: The Apartment” is hard to miss – look for the mural of George Costanza posing in his tighty whities – a shrine to all things “Seinfeld” that recreates the comedian’s kitchen and living room. The online television company Hulu organized this touring show after it acquired exclusive streaming rights to all of the “Seinfeld” episodes.

Visitors are greeted by Jerry’s booth in Monk’s Restaurant from the show’s set, flanked by other memorabilia, such as the leather couch from George’s undies shoot. Around a corner is the corridor to apartment 5A, which guests are invited to enter Kramer style – suddenly and out of breath.

The apartment itself is furnished down to the details, with cereal boxes stocked above the kitchen sink and a green bicycle hanging from the wall through the doorway.

Just outside, a concrete patio serves as a Festivus pole lot (think Christmas tree lot, but for Festivus). The first 50 fans at the exhibit each day will each get a desktop Festivus pole to honor a holiday invented by George Costanza’s cheapskate father as a rebellion against the commercialization of Christmas – don’t forget to notify your boss that you’ll be out celebrating on Dec. 23.

Behind the apartment, a canvas styled as a brick wall bears dozens of signatures from guest stars, who scrawled their farewell messages during the taping of the show’s finale.

On Dec. 15, the day before the exhibition opened to the public, Larry Thomas, better known as the Soup Nazi (“The Soup Nazi,” Season 7, Episode 6), pointed to his mark on television history: a poorly drawn heart on the canvas sheet with the words, “No Soup For You!” scrawled in capitals inside.

“I don’t know how many actors can tell you they were on their favorite TV show,” said Thomas, who described himself as a religious watcher of the show during its original NBC run.

Sporting a mustache and a long white apron, Thomas described how he rocketed into unexpected stardom as perhaps the show’s most famous guest star.

Barely a day has gone by since he taped the Soup Nazi episode when Thomas is not asked to repeat the famous line from his six-minute appearance on the 180-episode show, he said.

“Starting the next day, I was no longer the same guy – I was now the Soup Nazi,” he said.

The show’s cultural influence has exhibited remarkable staying power, despite the fact that the final episode first aired in 1998. Thomas has sold nearly 19,000 autographed pictures of himself in Soup Nazi garb to fans all over the world, and this year published a book titled, “Confessions of a Soup Nazi: An Adventure in Acting and Cooking.”

“Now that Hulu is streaming the whole series, it’s going to reach a whole new generation of young people that don’t actually watch [regular] television,” Thomas said.

Like Seinfeld’s character, the exhibit is native to New York. After a successful run there, Hulu decided to bring it to Los Angeles to promote its service.

“It was such a great hit in New York that we had to bring it to the fans in Los Angeles,” said Hulu publicist Mitchell Squires. “Perfect timing for Festivus.”

“Seinfeld: The Apartment” is located at 8445 Melrose Ave. Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 16-Dec. 20.