The Buzz About Bee Movie
Jerry's hit television show, Seinfeld, made America laugh for nine seasons. Now, he's bringing his comedy to the big screen with his first animated film, Bee Movie. Not only did Jerry write this moviehe also produced it and starred in it!
In the movie, Jerry plays Barry B. Benson, an ambitious bee who wonders what life is like beyond the hive. Barry ventures out on his own and encounters some sticky situations. He also beefriends Vanessa, a Manhattan florist, while buzzing around town.
As Barry's relationship with Vanessa blossoms, he makes a stinging discovery on a store shelfjars of "stolen" honey! Outraged, Barry decides to take on the honey industry and end the exploitation of beesonce and for all.
Jerry was involved in writing every line, song lyric and scene in this film, which may be why it took him four years to complete! "I don't know if I'll ever do something like this again, so I wanted to really give it everything I had," he says.
Oprah says Jerry's hard work paid off. "There's something in this movie for everybody," she says. "You can take an 8-year-old or you can take a 78-year-old."
"I had called Steven Spielberg to direct this thing I was doingI think it was a commercial for American Express," Jerry says. "I asked him if he would do it, and he said no. We live in the same neighborhood out in Long Island so he said, 'Why don't we have dinner?' So of course I said yes."
The day of the dinner, Jerry says he got very nervous. "I'm Jewish. I grew up on Long Island. [Having dinner with Spielberg] is like having a second bar mitzvah," he says.
Jerry says he sat in the same chair all day and waited for dinner time to roll around. Finally, after hours of anticipation, he and his wife, Jessica, left for the restaurant.
"We're sitting at the dinner getting along very well, and as dinners can go when you're with new people, sometimes a conversation can stall," he says. "There's a little lull and, I don't know, I had a thought the night before. I was performing in Nashville, and I had this thought that it would be funny to do a movie about bees called 'bee movie.' That was itit wasn't, 'I want to make this movie.' It was nothing. It was just a funny idea for a movie title."
After telling Steven his movie title idea Jerry says the Oscar-winning director looked at him and said, "That's a movie. We have to make that movie."
"The next thing I know, I'm on a plane out to DreamWorks in California, and [DreamWorks CEO] Jeffrey Katzenberg is dazzling me with this unbelievable technology that they have," Jerry says. "I thought, 'This is a new sandbox to play in. I wonder if I could be funny in this kind of medium.' I started to get excited about it."
Jerry asked three Seinfeld writers to help him create a bumblebee world, complete with rules like, "No buzzing after 6 p.m."
"We sat together in a room, and we just made up this universe," he says. "When you make one of these movies, there are no laws. [We asked], 'What do the bees know or what do they have? Do they have cars or do they fly everywhere? Or do they walk?' You've got to make all that stuff up, and it was really fun."
If Jerry had the chance, he says he'd like to impose a few new rules on humans. "I feel like sometimes these technologies kind of happen to us before we figure out, what are the rules of this thing?" he says. "The BlackBerry, for example, is a fantastic device, but there are no rules."
Jerry's perplexed by people who check their BlackBerrys while they're in the middle of a conversation. "People go into BlackBerry comas," he jokes. "They just go, 'I think I'll go elsewhere.' And they just leave you."
In Jerry's world, cell phone users would also follow new rules. "Caller ID and star-69 and caller ID blockremember there was a time like the phone would ring and somebody in the house would go, 'I'll get it.' I haven't heard that in 20 years," he says.
Although he likes to complain, Jerry says he has learned to appreciate life's little pleasures, like a good meal or his wife's brownies. "As cranky as I am, at the same time, I enjoy life," he says.
Although Oprah was the voice of Gussy, an animated goose in Charlotte's Web, she says she had a hard time playing Judge Bumbleden. "I asked to redo it because I didn't think I was good the first time at all," she says. "I was really nervous with [Jerry] in the roomI was so intimidated!"
Jerry says Oprah's performance was fine the first time, but when she came back for round two, she was great. "She really did make it so much better," he says.
Even though the movie has wrapped, Oprah and Jerry both say they still have bees on the brain. One day, Oprah says she was sitting on her porch, eating tomatoes with fresh basil, when two bees began buzzing around her plate.
"I think they were after the basil," she says. "Instead of swatting them away, I just allowed myself to be there with the bees. I am not going to swat the bees because I'm now thinking they have families!"
"It's true," Jerry says. "I watch [bees], too, now. I look at them and I think, 'You have no idea what I did for you.'"
Comedian Chris Rock makes a cameo as Mooseblood the Mosquito, while Will & Grace star Megan Mullally plays it sweet as a honey factory tour guide. John Goodman gets animated as a larger-than-life lawyer, and Ray Liotta playshimself!
Bees may be busy, but they still watch the news! Broadcast journalist Larry King brings the headlines to the hive at "Bee-N-N."
Renée says Jerry first told her about the movie at a charity function. "He said, 'Well, I'm thinking about this thing about this bee that sues the human race when he finds out that we're exploiting the bees for their honey,'" she says. "And I said, 'Wow, that sounds really great. Tell me about it. He goes, 'Well, that's really kind of it.'"
A few years, numerous 4 a.m. rewrite "epiphanies" and a few hairstyles later, Renée says she is happy to finally be able to tell her friends to check out the film. In the time it took to finish Bee Movie, Renée says she made three other movies!
Jerry has nothing but praise for Renée's talents. "She has got one of those amazing voice gifts that she can put her whole performance into her voice," he says. "It comes on that screen, it's just, like, boom. It's like the character comes to life. In animation, the hard part is to make this thing seem like it's alive. She brings life with just her voice, and not a lot of actors can do that."
Eventually, Renée says she and Jerry started going off-script and improvised a scene where her character tries to give Barry some coffee. "We're facing each other at the mics, and I see this look come over his face and I just knew that this is when he was going to serve the ace ... and I was going to have to be ready to hit back," she says.
Jerry also improvised his scenes with Chris Rock. "I said, 'Why don't you come in tomorrow? I'm recording. Let's fool around. We'll make up a character for you.' So he came in and we just ad-libbed most of his stuff," Jerry says. "I just interviewed him as a mosquito—so, what's it like out there as a mosquito? And he started saying all this stuff, and we put it in the movie. That was the fun of performing with the people."
"They're both taskmasters," Matthew jokes. "No, it's very similar. It was such a pleasure to be in the room. I know it's nerve-racking. But I found it less nerve-racking because he was right there and we got to do the scenes together. And he was so funny and he laughs and he's a nice, very supportive person as a friend and as a co-worker."
Matthew says Jerry did a great job with Bee Movie. "The guy has incredible stick-to-it-tiveness," Matthew says. "He kept at it and every moment in the movie is great. I love the movie so much."
Among those who laugh at him? Jerry Seinfeld. "He goes to a gym where they have a ping-pong table. He says, 'I'm going to the gym to work out,' and he ends up playing ping-pong!" Jerry jokes.
When he isn't playing ping-pong, Matthew is spending time with his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, and their 4-year-old son, James Wilke. "I learn so much from him every morning walk[ing] to school," he says. "I love him madly."
Matthew loves him so much that he's even dressing up for Halloween to take James Wilke trick-or-treating. "He wants to be Batman," Matthew says. "And he said, 'What do you want to go as?' And I said, 'I don't know. Maybe I'll put on a top hat.' He said, 'Oh, like a magician.' And I said, 'Okay.' So I'm going to try to go as a magician."
In Oprah's interview with Jerry for the November 2007 issue of O, the Oprah Magazine, Jerry gave a tribute to his wife that made Oprah's eyes water. "I love my wife Jessica. I just always want to be with her. Even if she's talking to someone on the phone, I want to be there. I enjoy her aroundness."
Jerry says that marriage is work, but he doesn't mind. "You've got to clean up the messes, you know," he says. "People are lazy and I'm tired of it. Everything's work. There's nothing wrong with work."
It's her husband's work ethic that Jessica says she most admires. "He's just the best," she says. "He's such a great role model. He's a great role model for our children, and he's a great role model in the world because he gives 150 percent to our marriage, to our children, to this movie, to his stand-up every weekend, to all of his friends."
Watch the heights Jerry went to in order to promote his movie!
Now that he knows what it's like to obsess over every line of a movie, does Jerry feel fulfilled? "Yeah, I do," he says. "I did something different and I had to learn to do new things, so that's great."
During filming Jerry says he had to cut back on his stand-up comedy showsbut he is ready to get back on the stage. "That's really my life. These things happen to me and I do the best I can with them, but my life is being a comedian. That's what I'm good at."
Although he loved making the movie, Jerry says something very important was lacking from the experience. "There's something about the intimacy about the contact with humanity that you get with an audience. I'm thrilled I was able to make this movie, but it's not an intimate interaction with the public. It's more of a gift that you kind of leave at their door," he says. "I love feeling the life and the warmth and the unpredictability. I love audiences."
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