(photo credit: AP)
He's taken on the Soup Nazi, an annoying Chinese maitre d' and even an uncooperative puffy shirt, so when comedian Jerry Seinfeld faced the Israeli media Sunday in Tel Aviv, he was ready - ready with some one-liners and even a promise that the man from the show about nothing could perhaps even do something about terrorism.
In Israel to promote his new Bee-Movie, Seinfeld - who worked in a kibbutz banana field when he was last seen in these parts - explained that while "I don't think I can do much about terrorists, a successful movie by [Steven] Spielberg, [Jeffrey] Katzenberg and Seinfeld is annoying to terrorists. If we can't stop them, we can annoy them."
While he once could be ignored in Israel, the comedian said he'd now become family. "Today, out shopping, people looked at me as a son," adding that while he was recognized everywhere he goes, in Israel he felt a special warmth.
"When I was 15 and worked in a kibbutz, no one was interested in meeting me," he recalled. "No one wanted my autograph or to be photographed with me. They just let me hack away at the banana leaves."
He said he found Israel to be "a more mature country" this time. "It was more nervous then. Now I feel it's more permanent. It's forever. I think things will improve."
Asked if he had any funny experiences while in Israel, Seinfeld said: "I met Olmert. That was funny." "I loved meeting the prime minister and President Peres and [visiting] Masada and Yad Vashem and the Golan Heights an the Galilee," but mostly he loved meeting the Israeli people, he said.
Thanking everyone for coming to the press conference as it began, the comic said it was good to see them, magnificent to be back after 37 years, and joked: "That's it. See you later."
But here to spread some buzz about the movie, he quickly got into a description of the film and the making of it, alongside Dreamworks chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, who had come to Israel with him to promote the film.
Chefs at the Tel Aviv Hilton where the pair were staying prepared a sweet tooth buffet for the affair, which attracted some 80 journalists who had to pre-register for the event. The offerings included a large cake with a Bee Movie logo as its centerpiece, with honeycomb and icing sugar bees decorating the edges. Petit fours featured bee or honey motifs.
Introduced by Eyal Kitzis of Eretz Nehederet, Seinfeld said he chose the bee as the main character of his animated film because it is hard working and productive, "just like Israelis."
Seinfeld was involved in creating the actual character of the bee, and it took a long time to come up with the final result, he said. Initially it was a human-looking bee, but eventually it began to look more like an actual bee.
The movie, he explained, came about almost by accident. Seinfeld was dining in the Hamptons with Katzenberg's partner Steven Spielberg. As sometimes happens, they ran out of conversation, and to break the embarrassing silence, Seinfeld came up with the idea of making a movie about bees called the Bee Movie. Spielberg loved the idea, and immediately called Katzenberg. And the rest is history.
As for the series that made television history, Seinfeld said fans shouldn't look for any film reunion of Jerry, Kramer, George and Elaine anytime soon. "The Seinfeld TV show worked best as a TV show," he explained. "Movies are a whole different form. I'm very happy with the way the public views the show. I wouldn't tamper with it."
Katzenberg said it was incredible that Seinfeld dedicated four years of his life to the project. "Getting to work with him was a dream come true," he said. "After 35 years in the movies, I've never experienced anything more exciting or more rewarding. And I never laughed so much."