'A Midsummer Night's Dream' Premiere Night
(April 26, 1999 - Los Angeles, CA)
Here's Greg's report on the evening!
Monday April 26 was the Premiere Party for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. About two weeks prior we received a packet in the mail with passes for VIP parking at the Armand Hammer Museum, passes for admission to the screening at the Bruin Theatre, place cards with my name on them (I love seeing my name in print!) identifying us as folks with reserved seating for the screening AND passes to get us into the party immediately following at the Armand Hammer. Well, with all those passes and apparent preparation it still didn't prevent the over zealous Fire Marshall from bringing things to a screeching halt. More on that later.....
The invitation said '7:30 screening' so Julie and I figured if we arrived to the parking structure by 7:00, a few minutes to park, another five or so to walk two blocks to the theatre, we would arrive responsibly early with plenty of time to greet the paparazzi as we strode in across the red carpet.
Upon our arrival to the 'infamous red carpet' outside the theatre we were cheerfully greeted by tastefully-tiny-black-walkie-talkie-headset-wearing Michelle. I immediately became a BIG FAN because she knew my name without my ever having to introduce myself. She had identified us to a few camera toting folk who began snapping away calling out, 'Over here, Gregory'..'This way please, Gregory', 'Gregory!?'. One of the photogs asked for the correct spelling of Julie's name which he recited into a palm size tape recorder. He made a clever remark that some women don't spell it with an 'ie'....we laughed supportingly.
Before we lost Michelle she warned that there would be a group photo taken inside the lobby about ten minutes before the screening began. I made a mental note, "Don't miss out on publicity photo". We strolled through the lobby opting not to indulge in the movie snacks calling to us from behind the refreshment stand.
We weren't two steps into the theatre when another lovely woman named Kristy confronted us with, "Are you, Greg?". I was very impressed!...until I realized she was also donning one of those stylish black headset thingys.
Her job was to personally escort us to our 'reserved seats' in the theatre. As we walked behind Kristy..it was obvious that we had arrived quite early. Barely more than 20% of the seats had tushies in them. We were sat in the left center section on the aisle about halfway back. It was neat to see the name 'JBARA' printed on the two signs taped to the back of our seats (you know why...). Then as we looked around we noticed that every seat had a sign on it! Right next to us were two 'Hoffman' seats, four or five 'Urdang' seats next, with the rest of the center row taken up by 'Bale' seats. The entire row in front of us had 'Kline' on them. The whole row! The row behind us had 'Regency' on them. There was a group of 'Flockhart' and more 'Hoffman' and 'Pfeiffer' and 'Everett' as we looked further back. It appeared that the largest blocks of reserved seats were for 'Regency Pictures', 'Fox Pictures', 'In-Style Magazine' & 'Revlon' (both party sponsors). Julie and I walked up and down the rows looking at who was going to attend when another 'headset mafia' member approached. She was blond and also very attractive and I was afraid she was going to tell us to sit down or stop snooping when she began to say something that I didn't quite hear and she took my hand and shook it like I HAD understood. I finally had to ask her to repeat herself and was thrilled to discover 'AMY', the webmaster for the film's web site!! We had had some correspondence regarding the fact that my name was misspelled on the site and that there were no pictures of the 'mechanicals'. She wrote me back saying she had fixed the problem with my name AND included pics of the best characters in the film. (those are my words not hers)
She had promised that she would say hello at the premiere. Before now she had always signed her e-mail 'webmaster1@fox' so I hadn't learned her name till just then! Let alone that she was an attractive female! The emotional reunion only lasted a few moments and Amy was off to more of her 'headset' duties.
The time now was 7:15, the theatre was not yet half full and Julie and I decided to go to the lobby to check on the 'photo situation'.
With our backs to the lobby wall it was as if we were the receiving line for the arriving guests. Jokingly, we would make snide remarks about people's attire or appearance after they had passed us or were out of earshot. Then it hit me like a brick...our friends Marissa Messier (and gang) had left voice mail that they'd be standing outside the barricades of the theatre to wave us in and take pictures and hoot and hollar and all that and we completely missed them!! Never saw them...I felt guilty that I had forgotten. We considered going to look for them now when a large tuxedoed man also wearing a headset announced that 'guests must please take their seats!' And the doors to the outside suddenly slammed shut. Some male voice was shouting 'please clear the lobby' which was pretty much impossible as the mob waiting for refreshments lined up all the way across the lobby entrance almost eight rows thick. (Obviously, the guy who chose the refreshment stand placement never expected to screen a sold out theatre of 'latecomers' with addictions to popcorn, caffeine and aspartame).
Out on the red carpet the flashes were still going off and at least 40% of the evenings guests were waiting for the Fire Marshall to re-open the doors. Julie decided to go back to our seats and make sure they weren't given away. I told her she was being overly concerned and I didn't want to miss the 'group picture'. She said, 'I'll see you at our seats' and was gone. I should have listened to her.
Before the commotion began we chatted in the lobby with groovy chicks like Amanda Michener (Production) and Lora Kennedy (Casting Director). Lora also re-introduced us to two of my agents from the film department at William Morris who will remain nameless as they didn't even know I had been living in Los Angeles for almost a year and a half. One of them commented to the effect that Jeff Hunter (my key agent in NYC) is constantly badgering them about getting me film work. Where did they think I lived...Cleveland? To be fair...if Lora hadn't introduced them as film agents at William Morris, I wouldn't have known them from Eve. And I even met the film department once when I was out here for the In & Out Premiere over a year and a half ago. Needless to say, it's a big agency.
BACK AT THE PREEM: So the overcrowding situation was still out of hand and I figured there was no way they could organize a group photo with all the mayhem. I went back to our seats.
We were excited about sitting next to Michael and Sam Hoffman, Leslie Urdang and catching up, not having seen them since reshoots and ADR last fall. But the seating situation forced them to choose to give up their seats to others and they sat on a bench in the back. Bummer...we caught up at the party, though.
Okay, the other cast members I actually saw in attendance were Sam Rockwell, Christian Bale, Calista Flockhart and Ruppert Everett. I overheard the 'headset mafia' say that Michelle Pfieffer was, in fact, in her seat, but I never saw her.
As for the film...I am so proud! Will let it speak for itself. So much was a discovery for Julie and me because we were only privy to the scenes involving my character. It is soooo beautiful!! I am very happy with it. Would have liked a bit more screen time, but then again I always want that. There is a moment where they used a shot that actually catches me breaking character. It is clear to me that the director yelled 'cut' and we all dropped our acting faces, yet he used the shot anyway. It comes at the very end of the mechanicals first scene as we watch 'Bottom'/Kevin walk away. Roger Rees is center of the shot and I am just behind his left shoulder and the moment that 'cut' was yelled is very clear because Roger then sits and I clear something from my eye and THEN they end the shot.
Aside from that nit-picky thing (which I'm probably the only person who noticed) I am thoroughly pleased with the picture. Very, very happy! And wait till you see my billing!!! A 'first' in my film career!!!
I was very disappointed and surprised at the volume of people who got up to leave during the end credits. The theatre was virtually empty by the time the final disclaimers regarding animal abuse scrolled by. I thought these were industry people! We got up to leave and who do we see who also sat through the entire credits, but fellow Lebanese thespian and good friend, Kathy Najimy!!!
We chatted more with her and husband, Dan toward the end of the party.
Ahhhh, the PARTY!
The food was delicious! Italian...salads, breads and the best entrees to be served from chaffing dishes. It really was great food. Decadent deserts, too. I sampled them all. The courtyard of the Armand Hammer Museum was open air and the decor echoed the draperies and foliage of the fairyland in the film. They even had scantily clad babes in fairy outfits prancing around waving wands and sprinkling fairy dust on guests. We ate at the table reserved for Leslie Urdang. Chatted with her sister Robin who was the film's music coordinator. Talked with Peter Reigert, Dana Delany (whose boyfriend, Henry Czerny plays my older brother in the upcoming Adrian Pasdar film, CEMENT). Saw Hugh Hefner and about five blond bunnies in tow. They only showed up for the party. Talked with Nancy Perry Graham writer for PEOPLE magazine and her husband Gregory who is now a writer but retired as chef for places like Odeon & Palio in NYC, Rattlesnake Club in Denver. They were nice folks, we liked them.
The party seemed to break up once word got out that the take-home gift bags were being handed out in the lower lobby. We went down and snagged one for each of us. They contained goodies from Revlon, an In-Style Magazine and Classico pasta sauce.
We were in heaven! On our way out we got to say goodbye to Michelle and Kristy without their 'mafia headgear'. Congratulated them on a job well done in spite of the star-struck Fire Marshall and then headed home. A fine evening it was.