No pop-up Seinfeld bar for you?
Fans of the hit nineties sitcom Seinfeld were ready to bust out their best Elaine dance moves when news of a Seinfeld-themed party spot was widely circulated online earlier this year. According to a Facebook page, the event was to happen on July 15, at a secret location.
The menu items were to include such sitcom-friendly snacks such as calzones, big salads and chocolate babka, and if the pretzels were making you thirsty, Hennigan's and schnapps would be available at the bar.
As it turns out, the event, which drew interest from some 34,000 Facebook enthusiasts, is in doubt. Mackenzie Keast, one of the original organizers behind the pop-up, told The Globe and Mail that his group was no longer involved with the project. "We handed it off a while back," Keast said in an e-mail.
Keast wouldn't say to whom the event was handed. Postings by Seinfeld enthusiasts on the event's Facebook page reveal a mixed sentiment of confusion and suspicion over the pop-up.
The idea behind the event was a room modelled after Monk's Café, the fictional drab diner where Jerry, George, Kramer, Elaine and sometimes Newman gathered for yadda-yadda-yadda conversations. Tickets were to go on sale on July 29 through Eventbrite, but they are currently unavailable.
According an Eventbrite spokesperson, the dubious nature of the happening was a cause for concern. "The Eventbrite Trust & Safety team was unable to confirm the event is taking place and therefore took appropriate steps to un-publish it from our platform at this time," the company's communications representative, Amanda Livingood said by e-mail.
To party-going nineties-sitcom fans, the frustration is reminiscent of a similar debacle earlier this year, when a proposed Friends-themed pop-up shop in Toronto was cancelled. Toronto organizer Joshua Botticelli had the notion of opening a place called Central Perk, a reference to the coffee shop where the Friends gang would regularly gather for banter and whatnot.
But after setting up a Facebook page that received wildfire interest from fans, Botticelli received a lawyer's letter from Warner Bros., the show's producer and distributor. "They told me that because of the scope of what I was doing, it no longer fell under the guidelines of parody," Botticelli told The Globe. "They would have sued me if I were to continue."
If Warner Bros. were to sue, they would have been on solid grounds to do so, according to a top entertainment and intellectual property lawyer. "Central Perk is a registered trademark in Canada," says Matthew Diskin, with the Toronto firm Gilbert's LLP.
The Seinfeld theme shop is a different matter, however, because it is inspired by the fictional Monk's Café, rather than using any specific Seinfeld iconography. "Monk's Café is not a registered trademark in Canada. It's just a feature on the show," Diskin says.
As for copyright infringement, Diskin described that kind of case as "very challenging" for Seinfeld producers Castle Rock Entertainment. "They would have a tough time with it."
In January of this year, for the Gladstone Hotel's Come Up To My Room exhibition, an artist recreated the bedroom from the 1986 cult-classic comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off. There would seem to be no end to the artistic inspirations and parody possibilities for films and television shows of the past.
Botticelli chalks it up to nostalgia. "It's that feeling that makes everyone pause and remember the good old days. Everyone wants that time machine, but unfortunately the DeLorean hasn't come out with the Marty McFly model just yet."
It could be simple nostalgia, but it might also be a longing for a time when a generation would bond over a piece of pop culture. That kind of monoculture is now mostly gone, the shared prime-time experiences splintered. Seinfeld was a show about nothing, but it was galvanizing television.