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MOVIES

Watch him grow up (a little)

A 'Bee' inspires the evolution of a post-'Seinfeld' Seinfeld.

October 28, 2007|Paul Brownfield | Times Staff Writer

"First we park the cars together in a parking lot, and we just stand there and walk around them for a while and just talk about the cars," he said.

By 8 they're at Malibu Kitchen, in the Malibu Country Mart, where the bagels are imported from H&H in Manhattan and you pump your own coffee. "Bill is the proprietor of the Malibu Kitchen, who is a transplant from Long Island, so I feel very comfortable with him. He's a New Yorker guy, he plays fantastic music in the shop -- Sinatra and Harry Nilsson -- and everybody that works there is very friendly. And you wanna get outta there before 9, because then you get the Malibu, loose-pants, unshaven, SUV crowd. And you don't wanna get caught up in that maelstrom, you know . . . David Duchovny and all those people. I like David, but I can't . . . it's not my scene. Too showbizzy."

He continued.

"With their kids, you know. Not one decent article of clothing. For all their success they cannot put on something clean, they cannot shave . . . And I intentionally get up and make sure I am clean-shaven. Just so they know, I am not one of you."

Then it's up into the Santa Monica Mountains, Seinfeld and Feresten tooling the majestic, winding roads in their respective vehicles.

"Guys are funny when they get a routine that they like," Seinfeld said. "And they don't wanna vary it, and they love the consistency of it. And that's the way Spike and I got with that thing.

"I'm telling ya," he added, "there's no vacation -- Tahiti, Paris, you can have it all. Give me the Malibu Kitchen."

On the road again

After the onslaught of "Bee Movie," there will still be the act. Seinfeld plans to get more focused on his stand-up, to do more than Vegas (Nov. 16-17) and the odd date elsewhere (Nov. 9, a convention center in Lima, Ohio). It's the same Seinfeld, different observations -- i.e. why are terrorists always working out on the monkey bars in those training videos?

He has been a stand-up comic since he turned 21, and he has always appeared self-conscious as an actor, even while playing a version of himself on "Seinfeld." This is partly why he's scrupulously avoided the potential flop of a romantic comedy. That would be morphing too far -- another blockbuster stand-up (think Rodney, think Chris Rock) trying to graft the stage persona onto a feature premise.

"To me, that's my day, is work on some stuff and then do a set. That's what feels like a normal day for me. Everything else, I feel that I'm being pressed into service. 'We need you to . . . cast this movie. We need you to write this scene. We need you to help us edit this line.' I don't really wanna do any of these things. But then I just offer my services, but these are not my fields. I know it, I've learned it. I've learned it from the sitcom and from stand-up, I have acquired these skills, but they all feel like sidelines to me, they all feel like detours."

He is asked about Carson, the icon, and the stoic way he exited "The Tonight Show" stage and, by extension, public life.

"I will never leave the way he did," Seinfeld said. "I will always perform if I can."

He tells of a dinner with Carson after his retirement, when Carson talked of how he intended to pattern himself after Cary Grant, who refused, in later life, to do "The Tonight Show" despite Carson's repeated pleas.

Carson, Seinfeld said, even had a bit he wanted to do with Grant, after NBC cut "The Tonight Show" from 90 minutes down to 60, where Grant would come on at the end of the 60 minutes, at which point the host would say, "I'm afraid we're out of time."

"And he couldn't even get Grant to do that," Seinfeld said. "Just for the gag. . . . But Carson respected Cary Grant very much for that. And did it himself once he left. I do believe in those kind of values.

"We started this conversation talking about movies that are too long, and this is the same thing. It's the same self-indulgent virus . . . 'They can't get enough of me, they can't.'

"They can," Seinfeld said, hitting the punch line. "And have."

--

paul.brownfield@latimes.com

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