Seinfeld's all the buzz
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Stand-up favorite and mega TV star Jerry Seinfeld has been quiet since his hit TV series, "Seinfeld," ended in 1998. Having worked the comedy circuit, then getting married, Seinfeld has become quite the family man. However, the famous entertainer could only stay out of the spotlight for so long. On Friday, audiences will be able to see his first venture into feature films with DreamWorks Pictures' "Bee Movie." Seinfeld contributed as a writer, producer and voice talent for the animated feature. I had a chance to talk with him about this film, his life and much more.
Adam Burnham: What really challenged you on this film?
Jerry Seinfeld: First of all, good question.
What challenged me probably the most was to hang in there for four years. You know we'd do an episode, probably write in three or four days, shoot it in another four days, edit a couple of days. I mean it was no more than two weeks for the whole show, and this [movie] was four years. I mean I could have done -- you know, this was almost half of the length of the entire TV series to tell one story. So that was a little bit different for me to focus on that, but that's what the movie business is. And I learned a lot about that, too, along the way that this is what it takes to make a movie is you have to nurture this little baby along through a lot of things; a lot of changes, a lot of people's opinions and the studio and you show it to test audiences. So I guess hanging in there was the big difference.
The TV show is like putting out a newspaper. You just keep moving on.
A movie is like sculpting in granite. It's just one piece of granite, but it's going to take a long time.
AB: I was just wondering if the fact that you're a father now had anything to do with you wanting to do an animated movie and how they may have influenced you.
Seinfeld: You know, I really wasn't thinking about kids when I started making it, although lately I'm really getting excited about the fact that I'm about to give this great gift to kids. But for me, as a comedian, what's happened to me that I found that making kids laugh is the greatest joy that I've ever felt.
I mean when I get my kids to laugh at something, it's even more fun than when you make grown-ups laugh. Because a kid laugh has like this pure sound to it. It's like birds in the morning or something. It's just one of the most prettiest sounds I think you can hear.
Burnham: This is your first principal role in a film. Why have you waited so long to explore movies and are you going to continue to explore that aspect of your career in the future?
Seinfeld: I really didn't wait that long. It just took a long time to make it. So, I really -- this could have been out four years ago if it didn't take so long to make these things.
And I haven't really -- I've never planned anything in my career and I'm not going to start now. So I don't know what my next thing would be or where I'm going to go. I never give that a moment's thought until the opportunity presents itself.
Burnham: So, Jerry, with this big step in a motion picture, why bees?
Seinfeld: Because bees are funny. A lot of animals are not funny. I think they try and make them funny, but I don't think they're so funny. To me bees are funny.
Burnham: What particularly about bees is funny?
Seinfeld: They're fat. They fly, which is very difficult when you're fat. They wear very loud clothing so people can see them struggling with the flight that they have to make, and they make honey and they deal with flowers and those are wonderful things.
And they have a very complicated sophisticated society and so it reminded me of Manhattan. It's very crowded and everybody is very busy and running around and there's just not enough moments in the day to get all the work done. It just seemed like this is like a little tiny version of Manhattan.
Burnham: Did you see your work with any of the other actors who played voices in the film or were all separately working?
Seinfeld: No, that's one of the thing that's a little different about this movie is I recorded with every single actor and every line in the movie, even if someone had only one line I would meet them in the recording studio and record with them. Yeah, because things would always happen when I was there that don't happen when you just have technicians there. And ... to me that's the fun of it. It's kind of like making stuff up as you go along. I mean there's a scene with me and Chris Rock and we meet on the windshield of a truck. We're insects that slam into a windshield and we get into this whole conversation and the whole conversation Chris and I just ad-libbed right there on the spot in the studio.
Burnham: Can you relive your first dinner with Steven Spielberg and were you able to choke down your dinner?
Seinfeld: It wasn't easy. It was really like, you know, kind of that first date feeling as a grown-up. We kind of did an episode like that of the show where I became friends with Keith Hernandez, who was an idol of mine.
It was similar to that. It's fun when you're a grown-up to feel like -- have that youthful feeling of doing something scary for the first time or just being around somebody that you're so excited about. But, you know, he's a very regular guy. And after a few minutes, it was very comfortable.
Burnham: Back to the movie, are there any lessons that you think kids or parents can take away from the film?
Seinfeld: The big lesson in the movie I think that people seem to be getting is that small things can play a very big part in nature and that nature is a very complicated system where a lot of little things make a big difference. And bees are one of the smallest things and they make one of the biggest differences in the world.
And then the other theme, which is similar to that, which is that small jobs mean a lot in the world when they're done well; that everything done well means a lot.
Burnham: I was just wondering if you have a funny anecdote about fatherhood that you'd like to share with us.
Seinfeld: Let's see. You know what I think I found is another really great thing is looking at your kids underwater. My daughter just learned to hold her breath and go underwater. And it's really fun to see your kid underwater because they can't talk to you on the way and they can't ask you for anything. And they just look so cute. You know how parents love to look at their kids sleeping? Because they look so perfect and they're not bothering you and they're not whining about anything, they seem so perfect when they're sleeping and I found that they also are very nice to look at underwater. You can't hear them.
Burnham: Jerry, as a big fan of your stand-up and your show, I have to be reminded of a quote you gave once about how you didn't want to get into movies because of the length of time you're involved with it and how a lot of movies end up being bad.
Seinfeld: Yeah. ... Somebody reminded me of that quote.
Burnham: So our expectation -- this has got be a great movie, right?
Seinfeld: It's got to be or I'm in deep trouble.
Burnham: Four years is a long time to spend on a bad movie.
Seinfeld: That's right. It sure is. That's why I spent so much of my time on it just to make sure, but of course anything could be bad. We never know until it comes out.
Burnham: We'll be anxiously awaiting it.
Seinfeld: Thank you. Thank you. It's not bad. Don't worry.