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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

Kramer v. Kramer:

Michael Richards, on national radio program, says he is 'shattered' by tirade at comedy club

Comedian Michael Richards said Sunday he did not consider himself a racist, and that he was "shattered" by the comments he made to two young black men during a tirade at a Los Angeles comedy club.\nRichards appeared on the Rev. Jesse Jackson's nationally syndicated radio program, "Keep Hope Alive," as part of a series of apologies for the incident. He said he knew his comments hurt the black community, and hoped to meet with the two men.\nHe told Jackson that he had not used the language before.\n"That's why I'm shattered by it. The way this came through me was like a freight train. After it was over, when I went to look for them, they had gone. And I've tried to meet them, to talk to them, to get some healing," he said.\nRichards, who played Jerry Seinfeld's wacky neighbor Kramer on the TV sitcom "Seinfeld," was performing at West Hollywood's Laugh Factory last week when he lashed out at hecklers with a string of racial obscenities and profane language. A cell phone video camera captured the outburst, and the incident later appeared on TMZ.com.\nRichards told Jackson the tirade was fueled by anger, not bigotry. He said he wanted to hurt those who had hurt him.\n"I was in a place of humiliation," he said.\nRichards' publicist, Howard Rubenstein, said Saturday that Richards has begun psychiatric counseling in Los Angeles to learn how to manage his anger.\n"He acknowledged that his statements were harmful and opened a terrible racial wound in our nation," Rubenstein said. "He pledges never ever to say anything like that again. He's quite remorseful."\nJackson, who has called Richards' words "hateful," "sick," and "deep-seated," said the comedian's inclusion on the show was a chance for a broader discussion about "cultural isolation" in the entertainment industry.\nRichards noted that the racial epithet he used is frequent in the entertainment industry--- and acknowledged that it could have consequences.\n"I fear that young whites will think it's cool to go around and use that word because they see very cool people in the show business using that word so freely," he said. "Perhaps that's what came through in that ... the vernacular is so accessible."

Star tarnishes his own reputation

6 degrees of 'Seinfeld':NYC's 'real Kramer' and Richards

The first call came from the Midwest. Before long, the phone was ringing, and ringing, and ringing again: Satellite radio. Fox News. Extra.\nYada, yada, yada.\nFor Kenny Kramer, role model for the "Seinfeld" character who shared his surname, each call was a reminder of the intersection between his real life and his sitcom doppelganger. Actor Michael Richards -- the on-air Cosmo Kramer -- made headlines with a racist rant last week in a Los Angeles comedy club.\nSuddenly, everybody wanted to know what Kramer -- despite the degrees of separation -- thought about the man who played the character based on his life.\nConfused? So was Kramer.\n"I did at least 15 to 20 interviews," says Kramer, talking to interviewee No. 16 or 21. "All hell broke loose. There were lots of E-mails. They were about 9-1 positive. A guy who wrote a story in the Daily News said, `I hope this doesn't hurt your business.'"\nAh, the business -- where Kramer has enjoyed the merger of man and myth for nearly 11 years. Kramer, now 62, launched the "Kramer Reality Tour" to take Sein-fans on a tour of Manhattan locales featured in the Emmy-winning NBC comedy series.\nIt remains a brilliant concept, bringing together New York real estate and Hollywood surreality. There was the real New York Health and Racquet Club, where the fake Kramer met a bogus Salman Rushdie. Or the Midtown office building where the fake Kramer discovered a publisher for his coffee table book about coffee tables.\nThe real Kramer, who initially lobbied to play himself on the program, subsequently met with Richards on several occasions. His insight after the actor's meltdown during a stand-up comedy appearance: Richards had little in common with his off-kilter "Seinfeld" persona.\n"I know the guy," Kramer said of Richards. "He's not this outgoing ball of fun that people would expect Kramer to be. They think he'd be exciting, lovable, laughable. But he's quiet, introspective, even paranoid. He's a very wound-up guy. But I don't think he's a racist."\nThe real Kramer lived 10 years in a Hell's Kitchen apartment across the hall from "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David, and his life became the framework for Richards' quirky, bumbling Seinfeld sidekick, right down to the location of Kramer's apartment.\nThere was even a slight physical resemblance.\nBut Richards' repeated use of a racial epithet in shouting down two hecklers on Nov. 17 had the genuine Kramer gently reminding folks of the difference between inspiration and imitation -- even after Richards apologized during a television appearance with Jerry Seinfeld.\nThe real Kramer said in an interview that he's most annoyed by commentators' statements that "Kramer is racist." He notes, "Kramer is a fictitious character. Michael Richards is an actor who played that character."\nKramer says he wasn't too worried though that people would confuse Kramer, the character, with Kramer, the person.\nJust in case, however, he issued a statement drawing the distinction: "I know the public is smart enough to realize that Michael Richards' personal actions in no way reflect on the character he portrayed on television or me, Kenny Kramer, the real person that the character was based on."\nKramer managed to find a silver lining in the confusion.\n"You know what the good news is?" he asked. "Judith Regan is now on a plane to California, trying to sign Michael Richards to a book deal: `If I Were a Racist, Here's What I Would Have Said."

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