04/02/2002 at 01:00 AM EST
Ever since the news came out that Julia Louis-Dreyfus would be the third member of the "Seinfeld" cast to try her own sitcom -- after the splashy failures of Michael Richards's and Jason Alexander's shows – there has been talk of a so-called "Seinfeld" curse. Even Jerry joked about it, saying on the Carnegie Hall stage that as soon as the curse ran its course, he and his former cohorts could all gather for a TV reunion. But Louis-Dreyfus, 40, and starring in her own Tuesday night series on NBC, "Watching Ellie," ain't down yet. "It's a 'Seinfeld' blessing," the actress told The Washington Post. "Without 'Seinfeld,' I wouldn't have been able to do this show." And there's been a reprieve: NBC has decided to extend "Ellie" by two additional episodes, to air April 9 and 16, the network said last week. A modest improvement in the previous week's ratings for the closely watched (but not necessarily widely watched) new sitcom is responsible for this second chance, which means that the heat is on. "My answer to pressure is to focus in on the work and hope it pays off," Louis-Dreyfus said. "If it doesn't, at least I can say I did my best."