42. Adventures in Lala Land #1

A woman I know drops so many names I make sure to wear steel-toed shoes when I’m around her. So, if I tell you that Chris Noth is a friend of mine I’m trusting you accept I’m just saying that because he happens to be part of this story. Chris and I met in an acting class 20 years ago. I did my first acting scene with him. He went on to play Mr. Big on Sex and the City and Mike Logan in Law and Order. I cast him in my film Double Whammy a few years ago.

He lives in LA off and on. Now that I’m transplanted here for a few months we’ve hooked up a couple of times. He called me the other night and said he had an extra ticket to a pre-Oscar party in Beverly Hills thrown by Jeffrey Katzenberg. I vaguely know where Beverly Hills is. I have no idea who Katzenberg is.

The party is at some huge hotel or celebrity funeral home on Wilshire Blvd. Security is intense, stopping just short of a strip search. Cellphones with cameras are confiscated. We walk in and immediately brush past Will Smith standing at the center of a tight knot of people staring at him and laughing fiercely at his every word. I remark to myself, “You know, he really is a movie star-looking kind of person.”

A few feet away is the guy who directed Jaws. The first thought to enter my brain is, “There he is, Senor Spielbergo.” I make a strenuous mental note to myself: “Way too many Simpsons.”

 Many people recognize Mr. Big. He introduces me to a woman whom I recognize but can’t remember her name. She had a part in Juno. Djuno what? She was so drunk she clutched my arm for 10 minutes to keep from falling over. Finally I pried her hands loose and gave her a gentle but insistent nudge into a nearby sofa. As I walked away I heard her call after me, “We’re going to work together, dude!”

Then I met Wesley Snipes. We conversated for under a minute before I ran out of things to say. So I stated skillfully, “It’s great you’ve got a film up for the Awards tomorrow.” He looked at me in silent silence for a momentary moment and replied, “That’s Denzel.”

Yup, I’m really, really good at these kinds of things.

Then I met Chris Katan. You remember him from Saturday Night Live. He did some fantastic characters including Mango, the gay disco dancer and a lunatic monkey named Mr. Peepers. I leaned forward and asked him if many people commented to him on this brilliant, manic monkey he portrayed on the show. It was very noisy in the room. He thought I said, “Do many people tell you you look like a monkey?”  He broke my heart when he replied, “Yes, I do, sort of.”

I said, “No, no, Chris; I’m complimenting you on your acting. The monkey you created was genius.” He gave me a very, very strange look and walked off. At this point I was really feeling like I was hitting home runs left and right.

I chatted with Spike Lee for a little while. I’ve met him a few times over the past few years. His younger brother Cinque did a great job as the director of a reality TV show in Delirious. Spike said something to me and a little piece of saliva flew out of his mouth and right into my eye. We both saw it happen. Finally I just lifted my shirt and wiped my eye while nodding as he continued talking.

So then Tom Arnold walked by and for some reason impulsively shook my hand, mumbling, “Yeah, hey, really great to meet you.” He didn’t hear me say, “Yeah, hey, so long schmuckwad.”

And by that time the golden pumpkin had arrived to take me home. Actually I had to wait in line for 30 minutes to get my car, which was a rental, which I’d made no attempt to remember what make or model it was so when the valets were bellowing out the names of cars I had no idea what car to get in. By luck I recognized it by the banana I’d left on the front seat.  Driving home across Sunset Blvd in the pouring rain was like a long, slow-motion scene out of Blade Runner with no Sean Young waiting for me.

So, there you have it. The evening was a dumbfounding success and now I am back in my thinly furnished apartment with the onions, the churchmice and a giftbag.

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16 thoughts on “42. Adventures in Lala Land #1”

  1. Tom –
    … I’m the Marvel comic artist you met in Portland on Thursday, great meeting you and chatting about the film I’m putting together, and thanks for offering to look at the footage when I get the trailer cut down. Thanks to you, I’m now hopelessly in love with Catherine Keener. Hope you dug Portland, it’s a great film town. Break a leg on the Doors doc – mh

  2. Hi Tom
    The double-feature/Q&A was tremendous. “Delirious” is still making me laugh three days later. I’ve been a rabid-to-a-Cujo-degree fan of your work for over a decade so it was a thrill to see you talk about your movies and the stories of their making. Hope you come back for a double-bill of “Box of Moonlight” and your Doors documentary… wowza, that would be something else. Have a great March.

  3. Hey Matt,
    It was great meeting you in Portland as well. I did dig Portland. Hard to believe I was there and back in 36 hours. It is a great film town. It gives me hope and inspiration to see the genuine love of all kinds of cinema. I’ve never hated Hollywood films; I’ve only questioned why there cannot exist a viable alternative for those who want it.
    best,
    Tom

  4. Hey Brent,
    I’m glad you enjoyed the films. Man, I’ve got to hand it to you. I can’t remember when I last sat through a double feature and a Q&A. I was exhausted and all I did was answer some questions.
    But, you know, the whole vibe of a session like that depends entirely on the people in the room. For me, it was like being in a group of old friends. I enjoyed every moment of it.

    The documentary is coming slowly. A whole new ballgame for me. But I’m trying to treat it more like a strange feature, for which I’m writing the script. Many amazing discoveries. I feel honored to be working on it.

    Question for you: I took a walk before the screening and must confess I saw a lot of what appeared to be real people walking around with coffee containers. In a park I actually saw two kids wearing ski hats…playing hackysack. Are these normal occurences?
    best,
    Tom

  5. Dear Tom!

    My name is Christopher Panov and I live in Sweden. Been a huge fan since I saw Living in oblivion (still my favourite movie) Now My question. I would like to have a Living in oblivion poster signed by you!!! Oh yes, hang it on my wall and worship it. Is there anyway that could happen? Do I send u a poster?
    Please help.

    Once again. You are the best.

  6. Hey Christopher,
    Oh, man, I’d be happy to sign a poster for you. Unfortunately I can’t do it right now because I’m away from home for a while. Let me think on a way. You’d have to send me the poster and all the postage required to send it back to you.
    I’m so glad you liked Living In Oblivion. It is a favorite of mine too. Have you seen Delirious? Has it come to Sweden?
    best,
    Tom

  7. Hey Christopher,
    Keep me posted on any Swedish releases. I just found out that the few theatrical prints for the US release have been “resold” to foreign territories. Perhaps Sweden is one of them. I’m sure the Swedish distributor will be happy to know they are getting a 2nd hand print.
    These pipple at Gestation never sieze to amaze me.
    best,
    Tom

  8. Hey Christopher,
    that is very strange. The only thing I’ve done is add some words to a list of spam targets–a bunch of drugs, car loans, pedophile sites etc. I can’t imagine you were using any of those key words in your comment. But, for you I’ll try deleting them. Let’s see if it makes a difference.
    Sorry you’re having such a hassle.
    best,
    Tom

  9. Hey Mona,
    How nice to hear from you.
    Yes, that appears to be the case; the DVD with a bunch of cool extras should be released on May 6. I should do a post about it. I’m a little jammed out here in Califonya working on this Doors thing. Not much time to write internetically.
    I’m so glad you liked Johnny Suede. I still love that film like a first child, warts and all.
    I hopes you are well.
    best,
    Tom
    ps
    Any advice on what to do about Christopher’s problem above? I’m kind of stymied.

  10. I is quite well, thank you. Good to hear The Doors is keeping you busy. Idle hands are, well, you know.

    Christopher: try clearing the cache on your browser. In case you don’t know how:

    In Internet Explorer: Tools/Internet Options/General – look for Temporary Internet Files and delete them.
    In FireFox: Tools/Options/Privacy/Cache – Click the clear cache button

    Afterwards, restart your browser. Hope that helps!

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