ON T H
Classmates of the graduating class of 9:15 a.m., Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld),
right, and best friend Adam Flayman (Matthew Broderick), left, tour Honex, a division
of Honesco, a part of the Hexagon Group, in DreamWorks' Bee Movie.
Jerry Seinfeld flies onto the big screen in new animated film.
Special to the Jewish News
ere's the buzz on comedian Jerry
Seinfeld's Bee Movie, opening
Friday, Nov. 2, in Detroit area
During a nationwide tour to promote
the animated film, the master of obser-
vational comedy made a beeline for the
Emagine Novi Theater last month, along
with directors Simon J. Smith and Steve
Hickner, and spent part of a day thrilling
about 200 of his loyal fans — some even
dressed like bees — as he walked the yel-
low-and-black carpet, signing autographs
and posing for pictures.
It was Seinfeld's first local visit since
several sold-out stand-up comedy appear-
ances at Detroit's Fox Theatre in recent
Then Comedy Castle impresario Mark
Ridley introduced Seinfeld to the media,
recalling the future comedy icon's gig at
the Royal Oak venue 24 years ago. Seinfeld
joked with the reporters and photogra-
phers in attendance — about filming the
movie and his own life as a husband and
father. Then, director Smith showed and
explained clips of the film, followed by
mini-press conferences with Seinfeld and
From amusing Bee film clips, there's no
doubt this is a new type of animated film
— a real adult comedy with substance,
though the kids will love it, too. And the
With Seinfeld, 53, as the film's main
writer (three Seinfeld co-writers contrib-
uted), producer (with Christina Steinberg)
and lead actor, the movie bears his unmis-
takable comic stamp in every frame. (He
did painstaking research on bees over the
four-year project — and even got stung
There's a strong Jewish influence in the
film, too, ranging from Seinfeld himself to
some of the voice actors (Barry Levinson,
Matthew Broderick, Larry Miller) to the
film's New York City setting to some the
"bee-ish" characters in the plot.
When stopped on the "bee" carpet and
asked by JN Arts & Entertainment Editor
Gail Zimmerman if his character (Barry
B. Benson) and Broderick's character
(Barry's best friend, Adam Flayman) were
merely members of the hive or "members
of the tribe" as well, Seinfeld responded:
"They're bee-ish, not Jewish!"
Yet, in a scene in the film in which
Flayman tells Barry's parents that he
has fallen for a woman outside the hive
(human florist Vanessa, voiced by Renee
Zellweger), his parents respond in a dou-
ble entendre: "You met someone? Was she
bee-ish? She wasn't a wasp?"
(Later, when being photographed by
Jewish News Staff Photographer Angie
Baan, who identified herself as working
for this publication, he nodded in recogni-
tion to Zimmerman and said: "Tribe!")
For more than a decade, DreamWorks
Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg had
been trying to lure Seinfeld into the world
of feature animation.
It took dinner on Long Island with
Steven Spielberg to get the ball rolling.
Seinfeld called Spielberg out of the blue
four years ago and suggested they meet.
He hoped Spielberg would direct an
American Express commercial he was to
"I thought maybe he'd do it," Seinfeld
recalled thinking. "It's only a couple of
days, maybe he's got nothing to do ... but
he never has nothing to do."
In the course of the conversation,
Seinfeld related an idea for a film
— called Bee Movie, a spoof on the term
for low-budget movies from the 1930s and
'40s. He had no plot — only a name.
"[Spielberg] told me to do it," Seinfeld
recalled. nd when Steven Spielberg tells
you to do something, you do it ...,because
he's the king of the Jews."
Nice to know the rarely self-deprecating
multi-millionaire TV star looks up to at
least one other person in the entertain-
A lover of children's cartoons, especially
the Tom and Jerry series, which he regu-
larly watches with his children, Seinfeld
finally agreed and suggested a film about
bees, "with a hook on what happens to
the bees' honey:' he said. He immediately
called it Bee Movie.
"It's the hardest, but most fulfilling
thing I have ever done;' he declares. "I
Bee-lieve It! on page C8
November 1! 2007