Oprah Talks to Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry: Oh, right! I forgot. [Laughs] In the middle of dinner, we're chatting away, and it's all going nicely. When we started talking about kids we were off to the races, but then the conversation ground to a halt.
Oprah: I know—there's that awful moment...
Jerry: It happens to the best of us. As an entertainer, that's when I kick into gear and say something witty to jump-start the conversation. The night before, I was sitting with a couple of friends, eating a Twizzler, and I said, "What if somebody did a film called Bee Movie, and it was about bees?" So during the dinner with Steven, I said this to relieve the lull we'd just crashed into. I figured, he's a director, he'll relate to the term "B movie." But he didn't laugh; he fixed his eyes on me and said, "We're going to make that movie." I was like, "What do you mean we, Kemosabe?" He said it was a great idea, and when he gets excited, it's almost scary. He can get everyone else in the room excited! You don't meet older people like that too often. It's wonderful.
Oprah: Is Steven considered "older" now?
Jerry: I don't want to shock you with a calendar, but it's 2007.
Oprah: When I did The Color Purple with him, I never thought of him as older.
Jerry: That's because he wasn't then—that was over 20 years ago!
Oprah: Thanks for reminding me. After four years of working on this film, do you feel as though you can breathe again?
Oprah: Does it feel like a burden off your shoulders—
Oprah: —like you have a new self?
Jerry: Keep going, honey! All that. Now, I'm a guy who did a show that was pretty well received, and—
Oprah: That's how you think of Seinfeld, as "well received"? Not as a cultural phenomenon?
Jerry: I'm just happy people liked it. I think of it as a gift: When you give someone a gift, you don't call him up every day and say, "How do you like it today?" You enjoy the moment of giving, and that's the end of it.
Oprah: Earlier today, you told me something that resonated so deeply with me.
Jerry: Really? This is making my day!
Oprah: I was saying that I have just one last week before I have to start working on the next season of the show. You said, "It's yours to design." Your decision about the right time to end your show was one of the best designs I've ever seen.
Jerry: Thank you. That means a lot to me. My managers and I still wonder: Did we stop at the right time? Before we ended the show, Jack Welch [former CEO of General Electric, which owns NBC] told me, "Your ratings are still rising." "Yes," I said, "but the only way to see the end of a hill is to go past it and realize you're going down."