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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 09:31 GMT
The buzz about Jerry Seinfeld
By Genevieve Hassan
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Jerry Seinfeld, best known for the US sitcom bearing his name, has remained fairly quiet in recent years on the big screen. He has spent the last four writing, producing and voicing his new animated film, Bee Movie.

Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld dressed up as a bee to promote Bee Movie

There are some lengths stars will go to in order to promote their new film.

For comedian Jerry Seinfeld it was dressing up in a gigantic bee suit, hoisted up on a crane and "flying" off a building across the Cannes sky during its film festival for Bee Movie.

"They told me Scorsese did the same thing last year for The Departed," he joked at the time to a crowd of press and paparazzi.

But with hindsight, did he still think it was a good idea?

"We rehearsed it in the middle of the night at 3am in the dark and it was loads of fun and we were going up and down the cable," Seinfeld recalls.

"Later that morning there were hundreds of press there and all of a sudden it became a different thing in the daylight with all those people watching.

"I couldn't help thinking if I did fall to my death at this moment, what a gruesome experience it would be for all these people to watch. That gave me a little spook."

Tiring questions

However, doing interviews for Bee Movie seemed to test the star after a while.

"There are some questions I'm getting a little tired of - do you want to know what they are?" he asks.

"'Why bees?', 'Did you make this movie for your kids?' and 'Tell me about the dinner with Steven Spielberg' - those are the three I've done to death."

It was at the famed dinner with Steven Spielberg that Seinfeld jokingly suggested the idea about making a film about bees, having always been fascinated by them, and calling it Bee Movie.

Comedy has to be in the bullseye every time or it's not very good at all
Jerry Seinfeld

The director loved the idea and took Seinfeld up on it.

What followed was four years of all-consuming work making a film about a bee who leaves the hive and decides to sue the human race for stealing honey and selling it for profit.

A movie, the comedian says, he had never thought of as a children's film.

'Authentic feel'

Seinfeld had a hand in all aspects of the film, right down to the casting and was present at every recording session.

"Every line in the movie is recorded with me. No actor recorded by themselves which is how these films are usually filmed because people have busy schedules and you can't co-ordinate them to all be together.

"But since I didn't, whenever someone recorded I would be there and we would record together and play with the lines and improvise so it was great fun and I think it gave the film a more authentic feel in conversation."

The comedian plays down the power he has when convincing stars to participate in his projects.

Actor Ray Liotta and The Police star Sting are both poked fun at in Bee Movie and agreed to voice themselves.

Jerry Seinfeld
Seinfeld married in 1999 and now has three children

"I have the ability to ask - people will take the call and listen to what I have to say, but not everybody says yes," he says.

"I called them and said we want to have some fun with you.

"I told them what the idea was and we were very fortunate that both of those guys have a great sense of humour and were only too happy to do it."

Once all the promotion for Bee Movie is over Seinfeld will be returning to his first love, stand-up comedy.

Family man

After the hugely successful US sitcom Seinfeld ended in 1998, the star decided to go back to the stage and has been performing across the US ever since.

During that time he also got married and now has three children, who are credited as "kid humour consultants" on Bee Movie.

His stand-up routine has changed too, to reflect his new family man status.

"I've had kids now for seven years so I've got quite a few things that I do on stage where I talk about that experience," he says.

And although he has been hailed a "comedy genius" by many, Seinfeld, 53, maintains there is no real secret behind good comedy.

"The problem is everything about it has to be right for it to work, or it's useless. You have to be very thorough and attentive to it or it just doesn't do anything.

"Most music or drama, if it's in the ball park, it's pretty good but comedy has to be in the bullseye every time or it's not very good at all.

"I test new material and always do new things in clubs or wherever I perform, and that's how I develop it."

Funny men

Scene from Bee Movie
Chris Rock plays mosquito Mooseblood (right) in Bee Movie.

So who does Seinfeld consider to be his contemporaries in the field?

"I'm a big fan of Eddie Izzard. I think he has a fantastic mind and a very analytical approach - in fact he has a whole routine about bees now!

"And Chris Rock is one of the most brilliant I've ever seen on a stage in terms of his mental acuity. His sheer intelligence level is so high."

Seinfeld asked Rock to cameo in Bee Movie for a part as a mosquito that was only scripted as a few lines.

But after an improvised recording session, the part grew into arguably one of the best characters in the film.

Seinfeld reportedly turned down $5m (2.5m) an episode to keep his sitcom going and doesn't seem to feel the lure of Hollywood again.

For the time being, he is happy just being a New York stand-up.

"I don't really have many conversations with Hollywood. There's not much that suits me as I'm a writer as well as a performer, so you can't plug me in so easily into a lot of products," he says.

"I try to make choices because I think it would be an interesting or a fun thing to do, but I don't feel like that's my career.

"My career is performing as a comedian and that's what I love to do."

Bee Movie opens in cinemas on 14 December.

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07 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
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27 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
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11 Mar 99 |  Entertainment
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14 Jul 98 |  Entertainment

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