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June 2007
BEE MOVIE PREVIEW: An Interview with Jerry Seinfeld

BEE MOVIE PREVIEW: An Interview with Jerry Seinfeld

By Wilson Morales
June 25, 2007

On June 19, 2007, Paramount Pictures held a sneak preview of their latest animation film, BEE MOVIE, in NYC at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Hosting the 45 min preview were Dreamworks honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg and the director Steve Hickner (The Prince of Egypt). While certain clips were show, 4 of the main cast were introduced, starting with the star and co-producer of the film, Jerry Seinfeld, followed by Renee Zellweger, Matthew Brokerick, and Chris Rock. Judging from the clips that I saw, this film will be hit. One of the highlights of the clip reel is a very funny scene involving Ray Liotta. As the story goes, Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld), a bee who has just graduated from college, is disillusioned at his lone career choice: making honey. On a special trip outside the hive, Barry's life is saved by Vanessa (Zellweger), a florist in New York City. As their relationship blossoms, he discovers humans actually eat honey, and subsequently decides to sue us. Once the preview was over and folks, along with the talent, headed downstairs for the reception, Jerry Seinfeld spoke to blackfilm.com, about his experience working on the animation film and being heavily involved with it.

When you were finished with show, and had plenty of time to come up with something next to do, did you say, “I’m going to do animation and keep it under the radar?”

Jerry Seinfeld: No, no. Katzenberg kept pushing me. He kept saying, “I got a part for you in this movie. I got a part for you in that movie”. I’m a comedian. I can’t do other people’s stuff. I can only do my own stuff. That’s one of the curses of being a comedian.

In wanting to do something different, why not try something dramatic for a change?

JS: That’s not different. There are so many great straight actors; brilliant straight actors. How many great comedy people are out there? There’s like four. Why would I defect to join a group where there are millions of guys, and they are some who can’t even get work. They sit at home. How many great actors do you see in movie and ask, “What ever happened to that guy?” But a funny guy, that’s a special job. You have to do your job. That’s what the movie about, do you job; and so my job is to be funny.

How challenging is it to balance the comedic aspects of the film for both the kid and the adult?

JS: The kids won’t notice it, and maybe their parents will get a laugh out of it. To me I just think of what’s funny.

Were you somewhat a co-director on this film? (Jeffrey) Katzenberg doesn’t always give this much control to writers. He’s been involved with this genre for a very, very long time. The directors work with him and with the actors, he gets the big names. You seem to have a lot more involvement in this film. Would you have done it otherwise?

JS: Nope and he knew that. I said that there was one way we are working together and that was the deal.

How true has he been to it?

JS: Absolutely 100%. My manager went to him and said, “There’s only thing you can’t do. You can’t tell Jerry what’s funny. And so, he never does. He knows he doesn’t need to.

Did you have a hand in casting Renee Zellweger, Chris Rock, Matthew Brokerick, and others on the film?

JS: I was involved with every aspect of the film. I fell in love with the whole thing. I got into the architecture of the buildings, and the colors that we should use; and I just got into it. They have amazing people over there and I would go from room to room. I would work on props, and voices, and actors. “How about this person and this person….” I just got into the whole thing.

How do you feel now that it’s coming together?

JS: It feels good. The hardest part is the story in any movie I’ve learned. In a TV show, it’s sort of the extension of a stand-up bit. A stand-up bit has to be funny for two reasons. A TV show story has to be funny for a lot of reasons, but a movie is an hour and a half. To keep the comedy going that long, that was a challenge for me. But eventually, we figured it out.

How long has it been since she started shooting this?

JS: Some 3 years. It sort of overlaps because you start shooting it as you are writing it; and you are doing both at the same time. So I would say, three years to write it and three years to shoot it but they overlap.

With Katzenberg overseeing the many sequels of the Shrek franchise, does he have you lined up for Bee Movie 2?

JS: No. I’m not committed to that.

Would doing a sequel interesting to you?

JS: I don’t know.

At this point, every animation film that makes money eventually has a sequel in store down the road.

JS: I guess. I wouldn’t want to make one that’s not as good. That’s the reason I don’t go back to doing serious television. I know the next show would not be as good as the last one and I wouldn’t want to do that.

What else are you working on?

JS: Being a comedian is what I love to do and these other things just seem to fall into my lap.

What else do you want to fall on your lap?

JS: Nothing. To be honest with you, I just want to spend time with my kids while they are little. That’s what I really love. Especially after having this ride, which has been an amazing ride, I feel that I have had a wonderful show business experience, and now it’s time to do other things.

How was the experience of promoting the film in Cannes?

JS: Great. It was funny.

Whose idea was it for you to wear the costume?

JS: It was Jeffrey’s.

What was your initial thought?

JS: He must be kidding……

BEE MOVIE opens on November 2, 2007



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