Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Brush With Greatness

Personal anecdote time!

I thought this might make for an interesting subject: famous people I've met...or at least caught a glimpse of! Seeing a celebrity in a performance doesn't really count, like going to a concert or a show. Basically, you've got your celebrity encounters where you actually come face to face with someone and exchange words and/or you've got your Famous Person sightings, perhaps seeing a celebrity while you're out and about. Here's my list of both types...

...starting with my biggest and most thrilling one. In fact, I've already done an entire post about my meeting with my favorite singer, Debbie Gibson, at a CD signing in Washington D.C. back in 1995. Obviously, that was pretty exciting for me. I've been a huge fan of Debbie's since freshman year of high school. But let's move on...

One of my favorite filmmakers is Baltimore native John Waters. He made two of my all-time favorite movies, Cry Baby and Serial Mom. In 1996, I was standing in line to buy a movie ticket at the Charles Theatre in downtown B'mo and the friend I was with noticed and whispered to me that John Waters was standing behind us in line. I knew if I didn't at least turn around and say something I would spend the next several weeks regretting it. So I turned around and introduced myself and told him how much of a fan I was of Cry-Baby and how it got me interested in writing my own stuff. The only thing I actually remember was I said, "I'm sorry to bother you, but I'd kick myself if I passed up this opportunity to tell you how much I've enjoyed your work." And he said, "Well, we wouldn't want you to kick yourself...would we?" Classic.

My other big, exciting Brush With Greatness was the time I not only met, but also got to work with Muppeteer Kevin Clash. At the time, I worked at the kids museum in Baltimore and we had a very large Sesame Street exhibit one summer. The museum had booked Kevin Clash to come and perform his most popular character, Elmo, to an audience one afternoon. Everyone at the museum knew how much of a Muppets/Sesame Street fan I was and so they kindly selected me to write a short script for Elmo to perform. The script even included me introducing and interacting with Elmo a bit...a very big thrill, indeed. Of course before the audience arrived I got to chat with Mr. Clash and ask him all sorts of nerdy questions about Muppets. He even video taped a short segment for my cable-access show with me. Pretty cool...no, very cool!

When I worked at the museum, we also had a few other celebrities drop by for one reason or another. Before the museum's grand opening, there was a media day where Rosie O'Donnell (who was in the middle of her run as host of her popular afternoon talk show) visited one Sunday afternoon for photo ops with some of the shinny new exhibits. I didn't actually talk to Rosie, but I was part of her security detail...which pretty much just involved holding a walkie-talkie and making sure too many people didn't crowd around her. We also had talk show host Montel Williams host a benefit at the museum. He taped a few segments for his show there but again I didn't talk to him.

However, on another occasion we had Maury Povich and his wife Connie Chung as MC's for some gala event that was going on there. Before the event, we were standing around waiting for things to get going and I was joking around with one of my co-workers. I was telling a (slightly off-color) joke and didn't realize that Maury was taking a quick walk-through of the museum before the event. As I was telling the joke, he happened to walk up the stairs behind me and overheard me telling the joke. I thought for sure my job at the museum was finished, but instead Maury Povich laughed and then leaned over to me and told me a joke that was WAY worse than anything I had just muttered. That was pretty cool.

At another point in the museum's infancy, Michael J. Fox was supposed to stop by for some photo ops. He ended up canceling at the last minute and sending some girl from the cast of Spin City in his place. Thanks. Also, one day when I wasn't working Antonio Banderas just showed up as a paying customer. He was apparently very nice and talked to everyone and answered all sorts of questions. I missed the whole thing. Of course I also missed the whole major film production set up across the street while his wife Melanie Griffith filmed an entire action scene for the movie Cecil B. Demented.

I have two minor Walt Disney World celebrity sightings. One time while in line for a Dole Whip in Adventureland, Harry Hamlin and his family were in line behind us. Thrilling, eh!? Another visit, I was in Downtown Disney and saw 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Strug getting out of a van to do some shopping. I know...jealous, right?

When I worked at Hersheypark's Guest Services department, WWE wrestler Nick Foley (a.k.a. Mankind) came up to our window for some comp. tickets he had on hold. This just gets more exciting, doesn't it!?

When they were filming the comedy For Richer or Poorer staring Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley in Baltimore I was totally excited because one night we stumbled upon where they were filming. They had turned the outside of some crappy old building in downtown Baltimore into the flashy facade of a Vegas casino. I went to the area everyday hoping to catch a glimpse of filming. After a couple of days of snooping around, I witnessed some honest to goodness Hollywood filmmaking. Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld) was shooting a scene one afternoon. He noticed my friend and I standing around and waved hi to us between takes.

And finally...I was a paid extra on the motion picture extravaganza Thomas and the Magic Railroad. I got paid like $50.00 to stand around on the set all day for something close to 12 hours. Anywho, I ended up sitting next to Mara Wilson on a train (not Thomas) as the train left the station, went about 30 feet, stopped, backed up and then did it all over again - about 13 times.

Leave your Brush With Greatness stories in the comment box. I'm sure they'll make for a great read!


amy said...

About 10 years ago my friend Lisa and I worked at a friend's booth at the Natural Foods Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. At one of the other booths the celebrity guest was Pat Morita (Mr. Miyagi). Of course Lisa and I went over to get a picture. The first pic was normal but right before the girl snapped the second polaroid Mr. Morita bent his knees a bit, tipped his bald head forward and yelled "FIVE BOOBS!" So, Lisa now has a picture of the two of us and the top of Pat Morita's head.

Ed South said...

I remember that picture well!

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