Just as the NAACP assails the Big Four networks for excluding minorities from their new shows, the black actor could very well end up as the star of the first spinoff from the program many say was the "whitest" on television--Seinfeld.
Morris is, of course, Seinfeld's Jackie Chiles, a fast-talking, Johnnie Cochran-lampooning lawyer who represented Kramer (Michael Richards) in a number of frivolous lawsuits. (Morris appeared in six Seinfeld episodes, including the finale, where he defended the whole gang.)
According to Morris, he's working with Seinfeld producer Castle Rock on The Jackie Chiles Show, a sitcom they'll pitch to NBC. Morris says the show will feature Chiles as the only black lawyer in an otherwise all-white firm.
Meanwhile, Castle Rock has confirmed the Seinfeld spinoff is in the early development stages, according to Variety. NBC, however, has gone on record saying that it doesn't know anything about the project yet. ("News to us," said a network spokesperson.)
No one knew a thing about the possible show until Morris revealed the plans Thursday at the annual Television Critics Association conference in Pasadena, California.
Morris was appearing with Black Entertainment Television network executives, who, while fielding reporters' questions on the network-minority issue, brought up the example of Seinfeld.
"Seinfeld and its creators were taken to task about not having adequate black representation on a show that takes place in New York City," said Morris. "The first spinoff, hopefully, from Seinfeld, will be The Jackie Chiles Show. Not The Kramer Show. Not The George Costanza Show. But my show.
"So, what that says is, if you're funny, if you're good, if you're strong, you cannot be denied. And Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld will be the executive producers/creators of this show."
A possible point of contention: Castle Rock has indicated Seinfeld and David merely gave their approval for the spinoff, as they did for Morris' turn as Jackie Chiles in a recent Honda commercial. (Seinfeld and his costars--Richards, Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus--all balked at the notion of a spinoff when the show went off the air.)
And what about repercussions from the real Cochran? "I go to the same barber shop as Cochran, and he's given me his full support," Morris said.
Chiles is Morris' best known role, but he appeared regularly on UPN's Love Boat redo, and he had small roles in such films as Wag the Dog and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
His name was in the news recently when producers of Fox's The PJs revealed that he had done a seamless job filling in for the disgruntled Eddie Murphy as the program's lead voice role.