Thursday, February 12, 2009

Night of the Year of the Dog

[ This is a repost of a item originally posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 ]

Night of the Year of the Dog

Despite spending the better part of four years working on various television productions, I've had more "Hollywood moments" as a result of my girlfriend. Said girlfriend, Helen, has little interest in working in entertainment. She likes saving animals. A couple years ago, she landed herself a nice little job at an animal rescue organization. Turned out that that organization was headed by Shannon Elizabeth.

Some people don't recognize the name Shannon Elizabeth. Usually, "the naked chick in 'American Pie'" is enough to get everyone on the same page.

Oddly, when I got to meet Shannon Elizabeth in person, I was not distracted by the fact that the first time I had ever seen her, it had been when she was naked in "American Pie."

Our most recent Hollywood moment came last Thursday [ April 5, 2007 ], when we scored seats to the premiere of "Year of the Dog." Even though Helen no longer works for the rescue organization, and even though said organization had nothing whatsoever to do with the production of "Year of the Dog," several L.A.-based rescue organization were invited and Helen was a second round draft pick.

What made me happy was that this was a movie I was interested in seeing, with a creative team that I knew and liked. It was written and directed by Mike White, who's worth looking up if you don't know his credits. Actors in the movie included John C. Reilly, Peter Sarsgaard, Laura Dern, and Molly Shannon, all of whom I've been known to like.
We arrived at the Paramount lot pretty close to show time. Of course, show time was delayed, because celebrities tend to meander across the red carpet. Had I been allowed to walk the red carpet, I would've ran, full tilt and screaming, into the screening room. Instead, Helen and I found a nice little side route into the theater. It's better this way; flash photography isn't good for my skin. You also shouldn't feed me after midnight.

The evening got off to a rocky start. One of the audio channels wasn't working... the primary dialogue track, no less. As the technicians got to work fixing it, Laura Dern dragged Molly Shannon to the front of the room, along with Josh Pais, to fill some time with a little improv comedy. Molly came off incredibly uncomfortable, and bolted from the stage as quickly as she could. This means that Laura Dern and Josh Pais, not necessarily known for their improv skillz, were more at ease with impromptu performances. Meanwhile Molly Shannon -- you know, from "Saturday Night Live," that show where people perform in front of a live audience, and have to be prepared for anything -- was shy in front of the crowd. How does that work?

The movie finally got rolling, and it was really good, though not what I expected. The marketing is a little off. I had been led to expect more "Freaks and Geeks," "Dead Man on Campus" Mike White. This is more along the lines of "Chuck & Buck," "The Good Girl" Mike White. I encourage people to see this movie... but I encourage you to see it when you're in the mood for drama. Don't let Molly Shannon's presence fool you... this is not a comedy. Yes, of course, it has funny moments. But it's a drama.

Then came the after party. Now, the thing about me is, I don't really do the whole mingling with strangers thing. Sure, there are celebrities I'd love to talk to. But when you're at a party like that, what do you have to talk about? How is that going to go? You know that you don't really have anything to talk to them about. They know that you know that. You could go the total idiot's route and say, "You know, I wrote a script you might be interested in..." Don't kid yourself. They're not interested.

So, Helen and I stood off to the side, looked, pointed, kept a low profile. We met up with some other people from Helen's former rescue organization. We ate and drank. There were dogs. There were people who were prettier than us. [ I wasn't a listener at the time, but the co-host of a podcast I now enjoy was also there -- Joe '09 ]

Some celebrities we saw, in addition to the people who are in the movie: Jack Black, Ben Stiller, that chick Ben Stiller is married to who was on some episodes of "Arrested Development," Lawrence Bender, Tia Carrere. Funny thing about Tia Carrere... I saw someone who looked like her, and told Helen that I saw someone who looked like her. Then we found out the next day that it was actually her. She actually looks younger now than she did back in the "Wayne's World" days. That's why I thought it wasn't really her. But it was.

I also think I saw Aamer Haleem there. But I also think I'm the only person on planet Earth that knows who Aamer Haleem is, let alone would recognize him at a movie premiere.

We also saw Jayma Mays. Funny thing about Jayma Mays... we were actually seated right next to her during the screening. (Ok, technically we sat next to her boyfriend... who flirted with Helen, by the way.) I didn't really recognize her until Helen told me who she was. If I HAD recognized Jayma Mays, I probably would've been all like, "Bitch, why don't you just let Henry get with Ugly Betty?" Actually, there's no way I would've done that. What am I, 10? No. I'm not.

Some celebrities we didn't see, but who were apparently there, according to the pictures we later found: Lea Thompson, Fred Willard, Judy Reyes from "Scrubs." Ok, HER, I would've talked to if I had seen her. I probably would've gone all "Chris Farley Show" on her: "You remember that time where you hid Rowdy from J.D. and Turk? That was awesome." Actually, that's another thing I wouldn't have done.

Someone else who was supposedly there, but we somehow completely missed: Drew Barrymore. Take THAT, dude who made "My Date with Drew." You worked your ass off to get a few minutes with Drew Barrymore; I could've been hanging out with her all night, and I don't even care. "Ah, snap!" as the kids say these days.

Not in attendance: John C. Reilly and Peter Sarsgaard... who I would've pulled aside and gone (in pirate voice), "Saaaaaaarrrrs-gaaaaaaaarrrrrd." Or wouldn't have. But I probably would've been thinking it so strongly, that he would've been able to hear it emitting from my head.

Also not in attendance: Shannon Elizabeth. You know... our reason for being there. Oh well. We didn't get kicked out or anything.

As we left, we got gift bags. Unfortunately, the gift bags were filled with stuff for dogs, not stuff for humans. What sucks about that is, I'm a human. But the bag itself is really nice. From Gap, I think. And I guess it's ok that we got stuff for dogs, as Helen stays in touch with various dogs. (She calls them more than they call her.)

So, that's what it's like to go to a movie premiere when you had absolutely nothing to do with the making of the movie and you're not a celebrity. It's a lot like going to a normal showing of a movie at your local multiplex, except the seats are nicer. And the people who are in the movie are there with you. And it's free. And it's on the property of the studio that made it. And you get to see it before most other people have a chance to. And there's food, but only in small portions, and you feel like an ass if you take too many samples. And people are dressed nicer. And there's photographers.

So it's actually quite a bit different. And special. It might give one a sense of superiority... until one remembers that he's only there because of his girlfriend. His girlfriend who has NO CREDITS, by the way. Nope... no credits at all. Unlike her boyfriend. Who HAS credits, but doesn't get invited to movie premieres.

Smug bitch.

[ NOTE: Mike White will be appearing as a contestant on the new season of The Amazing Race, beginning February 15, 2009 on CBS. ]