Remember When Larry King Thought ‘Seinfeld’ Had Been Canceled
Today is the 15-year anniversary of the release of Jerry Seinfeld’s magnum opus, Bee Movie. As critics and cinephiles alike use the holiday to reflect on how Seinfeld’s best work has changed the medium of film forever, it’s worth remembering the massive media blitz that Seinfeld and DreamWorks Animation launched in promotion of the film that dared to transgress our cultural mores regarding human-insect romance.
During the promotional tour in question, Seinfeld made a stop at Larry King Live, where the King himself questioned Seinfeld about some of his lesser projects, such as his time on an obscure 1990s sitcom called Seinfeld, which ran for nine seasons before Seinfeld — not NBC — decided to end the project that the comedian used as a launching pad for his future career in animated films. King seemed unclear as to how the decision to end Seinfeld was made, leading to one of the more uncomfortable outbursts in Bee Movie media tour history.
“You gave it up, right? They didn’t cancel you, you canceled them,” is a pretty innocuous remark, if not a slightly banal question for the Bee Movie writer and star who also made what’s widely regarded as the greatest sitcom of all time.
The voice of Barry B. Benson took King’s question as an insult, however, and spent a full minute uncomfortably reminding the legendary CNN broadcaster of who King was talking to. While it’s true that the distinction between having a number one hit show and being canceled by your network is significant in the world of television, the lengths to which Seinfeld belabored the point overshadowed an interview that should have been about a genre-defining film that would mark the high point of Seinfeld’s career.
King was one of those figures who it seemed was always elderly, but it’s unsettling the way that interviewees almost seemed to scold his occasional mental lapses. Danny Pudi had another moment like Seinfeld’s outburst that felt like a harsh reaction to an admittedly head-scratching remark from the great grandfather of broadcast television.
Seinfeld’s indignance over King’s uncertainty takes the cake as the most laughably uncomfortable moment of moral outrage over a questionable query from a broadcaster who hosted more than 50,000 interviews over seven decades of media dominance. Just watching the ticker scroll under the words “What’s the Buzz?” as Seinfeld semi-sarcastically asks King, “Do you know who I am?” makes this interview gaffe so unintentionally funny that it’s worth remembering on this sacred day of all days.
After King’s passing back in January, 2021, Seinfeld took to Twitter to reminisce about the television icon and clarify the famous moment of frustration, saying, “Always loved Larry King and will miss him. The ‘canceled’ bit was just me having fun with his little mistake. Nothing more. Or less. #ripLarry.”
Seinfeld has not yet tweeted about today’s anniversary, but he’s likely observing it privately with his family. It would be improper to bother him, so we’ll just buzz off and celebrate by ourselves.