First there was Tom Cruise decrying the use of anti depressant medications, chastising Matt Lauer (no relation to P’com’s Dawn, btw) on the Today Show and leaping around Oprah’s set like a hopped up frog on acid. Then came Mel Gibson lashing out at all things Jewish. Now, along comes Michael Richards of Seinfeld fame, going postal during a live comedy routine (video) and screaming racial epithets at two black studio audience members.
What’s with the rash of Hollywood meltdowns? Is Tinsletown merely reflecting the ills of the larger society? Many pundits believe Americans have never been more stressed or more depressed. And, when you factor in such stresses as rising gas prices, a brutal war, a lame duck government, Catholic priests running amok, and God knows what else, it sure does add up.
So, can "Kramer" come back from his moment of madness? Actually, since Seinfeld, Richards has been the ultimate role model of typecasting. Unlike Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Richards has been unable to shake free of the character’s shackles and convince audiences he can be someone else. And, maybe, just maybe, last week’s on-stage meltdown was the result of years of pent-up frustration.
Richards hasn’t been working much lately, so I don’t think the blow-up will hurt. In fact, who knows, it may just resuscitate his moribund act since he clearly demonstrated he can be more than the cool, hip and funny as hell Kramer character.
America loves to build up, tear down and then, in a few rare instances, give a broken down actor/performer a second chance. We’ll see what happens in Richards’ case. So, here’s hoping that one of my favorite characters in my all-time favorite TV show can bounce back and reinvent himself. As Louis-Drefus’ character might say, "He’s certainly sponge-worthy in my book."