Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Another Day of the Locusts

Here's the cast of "Dallas" on Sunday at the annual Paley Fest, conveniently organized by the Paley Center which used to be called the Museum of Broadcasting.  I had VIP seats for this event and it was a terrific one that ultimately became not only a salute to the current TNT reboot but also a tribute to the late Larry Hagman.

It also served as a reminder to me just how idiotic people can be when they're around celebrities of any shape or kind.    Another validation of the strange society we all live in.

For those not in the know, the Paley Fest is held every March for about two weeks in Los Angeles.  Each day, a particular TV show is saluted in the Sabin Theater where cast and crew gather on a stage to meet their fans, show preview episodes, and engage in Q & A.  Personally, I've only gone to a few of these forums.  I went to a salute for the old "Lucy/Desi Comedy Hour."  I had a VIP "in" on that one.  I attended reunions for "St. Elsewhere" and "The Golden Girls."  I went to a "Desperate Housewives" tribute mainly to say hi to Marc Cherry.  Meanwhile, there have been dozens of other nights devoted to TV shows that I have never heard of.

This longtime "Dallas" fan was naturally drawn to this year's salute to the current series.  So, uneasily, I ventured out.  Because I rarely travel into...

The World of the Common Slob.

Indeed, I thought the VIP location I enjoyed would act as a moat from the dumbbells who usually pop out for these parties in Los Angeles.  The overweight clown wearing some T-shirt dedicated to whatever show is being honored.  Lugging around a shopping bag loaded with bottled waters and bags of Doritos.  Hooting and hollering at the mere mention of the show's title.  And schlepping around cast member photos primed for autographs that they will try to sell on e-Bay so they can have enough money to buy snacks on their daily trip to 7/11.

If you asked any one of them for a quick description of themselves with one sentence, it would be "I'm single and I live in Mom's basement."

Sadly, I found myself immersed right in the middle of this horrific world, elitist snob that I am.

In Los Angeles, it is common to see your favorite film or TV stars anywhere around town.  The super market.  The gas station.  The dry cleaners.  The movies.  I have a laundry list of sightings.  And my standard practice is to never say a word to them.  They have their lives.  I have mine. Unless we're on the same soundstage of existence, we should remain separate.

But not so the common Paley Fest attendee.  They come out to be close to their heroes who, in their own mystical family world, are simply extensions of their own families.  As much as I hope it's not really the case anymore, I remain astounded every time when I go to these events and discover that nothing has changed.

Fans crossing the line over and over and over.

The "Dallas" tribute was well done.  They sneak previewed the episode where JR Ewing is laid to rest.  Not a dry eye was in the house, including my own.  The cast and producers came out to a warm reception.  Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy were accorded standing ovations, me included.  The youngsters in the cast had their moments.  I noted just how attractive Jordana Brewster and Julie Gonzalo were up close and personal.  Showrunner Cynthia Cidre provided insights into how they crafted this season's plotline to incorporate the passing of Larry Hagman. 

It was a wonderfully congenial afternoon.  And then the dreaded words from the moderator...

"Let's open this up to the audience."

Hands shot up in the air faster than people looking for bread crumbs in the 1929 Depression.  Microphones were passed to some of these slobs looking for their moment in the sun.

"I just wanted to tell you that I am one of the show's biggest fans."

Really?  How exciting for the cast.

"I saw every episode of the original show.  I can recite every word."

A great use of one's memory retention.

"Mr. Duffy, can I ask you about the scene at the Oil Barons' Ball when you and Jock and Punk Anderson was discussing...?"

Patrick Duffy was gracious, but knew that he was dealing with a complete maniac.  How the hell is a working actor going to remember the specifics of filmed dialogue from 1980??  For him, it was simply a joke.

For the knucklehead who asked the bombastic question, it's a life.  And a sad one.

It is startling how connected fans can be.  And how empty their real worlds just might be if they stake such value on asking a celebrity a single question.

Of course, when the event was ending, I knew what I would see next.  And being in the third row, my safety was soon going to be challenged.  As if I would be standing right in the middle of the opening credits for "Rawhide."

As soon as the moderator closed the proceedings, there was a groundswell of people that mobbed the stage.  A human tsunami.  Despite security and the fact that the "Dallas" folks were on a raised stage, that didn't stop this crowd.  Holding up photos, posters, and old TV Guide covers, the populace swarmed forward.  It wasn't necessarily chaotic, but it was a frenzy nonetheless. 

I stepped to the back and watched the scene.  One of the actors was pulled forward and was now in the front row of the orchestra.  Others were forced to share personal space on the stage which some of the audience had already infiltrated.  There were smiles on the actors' faces.  I wonder just how possible that was.  You need to be accommodating to fans.  But what is the limit?

Is there a limit anymore? 

Another day in Hollywood gave me the exceedingly dour answer.

Dinner last night:  Steak.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fandom = fan dumb.

By some odd coincidence, I saw Larry Hagman last night on an episode of "Living With Ed," a show from 2007.

Larry gives a tour of his mansion, complete with robotic coyotes, an outdoor bed hung from the ceiling, and stuffed rattlesnakes.

He was quite the enviro, sinking big bucks into solar panels.