Jerry Seinfeld

AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Jerry Seinfeld is wondering how a show about nothing has turned him into an "actor."

Lawyers for the former sitcom star have asked that a defamation lawsuit brought against him by a steamed cookbook author be tossed out on First Amendment grounds, arguing that any statements she perceived to be derogatory were made while he was in comedian mode.

"Nobody who was listening to Jerry Seinfeld thought he was doing anything but making very funny jokes," attorney Orin Snyder told E! News Monday. "Nobody believed him to be stating facts. Everyone understood him to be doing what he has done so well for so many years, which was telling jokes and entertaining. So the claim against him is frivolous and we have asked the court to dismiss it too."

Missy Chase Lapine, author of The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals, has accused Jessica Seinfeld of copyright infringement for swiping her methods for getting kids to eat vegetables and Jessica's funny hubby of slandering her during an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in October.

"There is not a single recipe in the two books that even share the same ingredients," Snyder said. "Jessica Seinfeld did not copy anything from anyone. When you compare the two books, it is clear that there is not a single recipe that shares the same ingredients and that these two books are completely different."

Noting that the plaintiff was accusing his wife of committing "vegetable plagiarism" in her book Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, Seinfeld told Letterman that Lapine being a "three-name woman" worried him.

"If you read history, many of the three-name people do become assassins. Mark David Chapman and, you know, James Earl Ray. So, that's my concern."

None of which Lapine took lightly when she added a defamation charge to the copyright-and-trademark-infringement lawsuit she filed against the Seinfelds in January (after Jerry made those comments).

But while she referred to Seinfeld as a comedian in her original complaint, in a revised suit filed several weeks Lapine stated: "Jerry Seinfeld is an enormously wealthy and well-known actor."

Seinfeld's lawyers beg to differ, considering he was expected to be funny when he was a guest on the Late Show.

"No reasonable viewer could have thought that Seinfeld really meant that Lapine...might become an 'assassin' simply because she has three names," state court documents filed Tuesday in response to Lapine's suit.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Seinfeld's camp argued in a separate filing that the hide-vegetables-in-food idea was hardly invented by Lapine and that the two books have nary a recipe in common.

"This is a bogus lawsuit," Snyder said. "It is absurd that this plaintiff would try to take credit for the idea of hiding healthy food in kids' meals. People have been using this obvious cooking technique in their kitchens for generations. Not surprisingly, it is easy to find countless other cookbooks and articles using this age-old idea that were written decades before this plaintiff claims to have invented it."

—Additional reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum

Originally published Wednesday, June 18, 2008, at 4:30 p.m. PT

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