Jerry Seinfeld on Bee Movie

During the Seattle stop of the promotional tour for the upcoming “Bee Movie”, I got the chance to watch a few completed scenes and speak with the producer, star, and writer of the film, Jerry Seinfeld.

The festivities opened with a warm welcome and some witty jokes where Seinfeld took aim at erectile dysfunction drugs, the lack of fashion sense for fathers, and having three children. Up next were two very entertaining shorts that will be used to promote the film. The first one followed Seinfeld as he walked through the halls of DreamWorks animation while cots of sleeping animators lined the halls. Then he took a few questions from members of the press who were in attendance, but they mainly followed how he liked working on 30 Rock, will there be any new Seinfeld outings, and so on. Seinfeld was clearly here to talk about his film, but he graciously pointed out that he had a great time doing 30 Rock and that there are no plans to do any more Seinfeld work, or work with Larry David. He did say that on the pending final set of Seinfeld there would be a bonus feature where the cast interview each other about each episode that can be played along at the bottom of the episodes.

A series of clips roughly 10 minutes in length were then shown, punctuated by Director Steve Hickner who was in attendance and set up each scene perfectly. The scenes were amazingly good and were highly entertaining and captivating. The film has a charm to it that blends the emotions of the characters well with great visuals and pop culture references which bodes well for the film when the full version is unveiled in a few weeks.

After the sneak peak, we were able to ask Seinfeld a series of questions in a round table forum with seven other journalists. What follows is a summary of the interview.
Seinfeld again greeted us and mentioned how happy he is with the reaction to the film as he found it a funny and endearing film. Seinfeld mentioned how he always loves coming to Seattle for his comic act as he finds the people “sharp” and able to pick up the subtle “nuances”. He joked that DreamWorks often wants to screen films in less sophisticated regions. Seinfeld mentioned that he writes for people he knows will like it and that the Directors both mentioned how they had ended the press tour on a great note as they were still buzzing over the reaction from the screening crowd.

When asked how the process of creating the movie compared to a television show, Seinfeld mentioned that the process was “long, so long” as a joke takes roughly a minute and a half, a television show 22 minutes, while a film is 90 minutes. He also mentioned the big challenge was not to run out of gas in the final third of the film as so often happens in films today.

The next question was about the likely “Bee” puns that will be used in reviews for the film and if he was ready for them. Seinfeld laughed and mentioned that “stings box office, “sweet”, and “buzz about it” may happen if they are lucky.

John Kerli of Christian Hot Spot then asked if the lack of adult language in his work was by design. To that Seinfeld mentioned that to him it has always been a point of professionalism as while he is not offended by profanity and does not believe it damages society, he believes that he does not need to use “knee jerk” words to get laughs. He acknowledged that for many it does work well, but for him, he believes that in using them, he would not be doing his job. Seinfeld also mentioned how back in the day, many comedians would have what was known as the “TV. act”, and the “nightclub act”. And for him, this was just too much work.

I asked if it was difficult writing a film that was aimed at both adults and children, and how did he find a balance. Seinfeld replied that he wrote it as he saw it and that he avoids the corporate mentality of trying to make sure a film covers all sorts of demographics and interests as this leads to a mediocre work. He then went on to say that he gets twelve year olds who come up to him and mention how much they enjoy the show. He said that when he was writing the series, they did not consider young viewers when they created it and that if you do your best work, someone will find it.
Sara Fetters of Moviefreak asked if he felt any extra pressure with the film to which Seinfeld said that he did have a bit of pressure, but mentioned that life is pressure and that he is pretty good at dealing with it. While making the film was fun, it was a lot of work, that he set his alarm for and was on the lot often during the nearly four years of making the film, as he did not want it to bomb.

A follow up question was asked that after winning Emmy awards, is he ready for an Oscar. To which Seinfeld laughed. He was also asked if he watches his past work, and he said rarely, perhaps when flipping channels, but he does not like to watch his work as he is uncomfy with it, and compared it to being like mirrors.

A question was then asked about Ray Liotta being in the film and how this came about. Seinfeld mentioned that during a break from his writing in New York, he took a walk to get some fresh ideas. He bumped into Ray and the conversation turned to the film and Ray said he wanted to be in it. Two years later they thought he would be ideal for the court scene with Sting and added him. The funny thing is that Ray thinks he is in the film as he belongs in it when in reality he is there as they wanted a scary heavy who would not belong.

Sara Fetters than asked about his experience on 30 Rock and the old buy NBC joke. Seinfeld mentioned that he loved being on 30 Rock and that Alec Baldwin was very funny. He enjoyed his experience since he only had to come and do his part, and did not have to be involved in putting the final product together as he knows the pain of making an episode and it was not his pain. As for the matter of buying NBC, he mentioned that he has been offered many production deals and even the chance to have his own night on a network, but doing so would require having an office, meeting writers, pitches, and he would rather be telling jokes to a live audience.

The conversation then turned to Superman and Seinfeld mentioned that when he did his commercials he liked showing the Man of Steel in everyday settings like trying to find a dry cleaning ticket. When asked what his take on a film would be, Seinfeld said he would not get to do what he wanted as since D.C. holds the character in great sanctity they would spend 4 hours just trying to get them to see things the way he does.

The event closed with a question asking if he was close to the Seinfeld cast which he said he was and letting us know that when the DVD eventually comes out, there will be a ton of stuff as he had enough for two more films, and many scenes had to be cut.
enjoyed my time with Jerry Seinfeld as he was a very likeable and straightforward person, who based on what we have seen, has crafted a wonderful film. I was with Look for “Bee Movie” in theaters on November 2nd.