When I started working for a TV show in Western Canada everyone wanted to go on trips to interview celebrities. Imagine leaving freezing Red Deer, Alberta in January to travel to LA to stay at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. It was amazing but you had to work hard for it. Stations all across North America are vying for these coveted all expenses paid spots and we were no exception. Factor in the 7 or 8 reporters/producers from our show (plus the show owner) all lining up for the privilege and you can imagine how often I would travel.
In June of 1999 I got the call! To travel to LA for the Disney Movie “Tarzan.” Disney was one of the best studios to do a junket or red carpet for. They gave you a good flight, some swag, a nice hotel (usually Four Seasons) and a per diem to spend at the hotel on whatever you wish! Plus this movie was screening at the refurbished El Capitan theatre in Hollywood with a party to follow!
The red carpet was enormous and this was the first time I saw the celebrity hierarchy in effect. The arrivals begin with the b-listers (soap stars), then Primetime TV actors, and finally movie stars (in this case Glen Close was the big name). But it was the screening and the party which was a real eye opener.
I was given a balcony ticket for the premiere screening of “Tarzan” and even though I was in the rafters I was in good company. To the left about six patrons down was David Hasselhoff and to the right about the same distance LL Cool J! Directly behind me was Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin..I mean c’mon. The Movie played and was decent but as soon as the Tarzan logo appeared at the end (no credits) the curtain opened to reveal a full band on stage and the one and only Phil Collins. Phil sang about a half a dozen tunes (I remember watching LL Cool J singing along to Sussudio) and what looked like former Disney CEO Michael Eisner handing Phil a cheque for performing (in the middle of the song!!).
The Party afterwards was filled with buffets, talking parrots, jugglers and more…at one point I turned around with a plate full of food and nearly knocked Teri Garr on her ass. That’s what you get for budding in line Garr. I even met Phil that night (and he signed a CD for my Mum). Another no no in the junket world. That’s almost as bad a handing someone a screenplay, believe me I’ve seen that too.
Until next time.