A Hollywood premiere is one of the few occasions when a person can wear a tux. It’s nice to take that costume out of the back of the closet and give it some use. I had gotten promo passes from an online site for the premier of The Guilt Trip. Planning to wear my tux, I washed the pants the night before and they were still not dry, so at the last minute I opted instead for a black turtle neck under a black suit. I thought it still looked sharp, but on the way to the theatre, I was afraid they might not let me in. I’d hate to be turned away at the premiere because I was underdressed. Funny. Turns out most people were there in sweatshirts and jeans! Honestly, it was like black Friday at the mall.
We were instructed not to bring any cell phones into the theatre. So, I left mine in my car. Seems I was the only one who paid attention to that rule. There were people on their glowing hand held devices during the movie! I am not kidding. An usher was standing guard next to me (I had an aisle seat) shining his flashlight at some teenage girls who were not paying attention to the screen. They were too busy texting or checking facebook or who knows what. Mind boggling.
About two weeks ago, I had passes to a screening where I knew Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen would be doing a live Q&A afterward. I was an hour early for that, but still got turned away. They tend to overbook, to be sure of having a full house. This time, I got there three hours early, and found an amazing parking space within walking distance. The entire street was blocked off, the red carpet was set up in the middle, and there were already fans crowded along the barricades. Security was tight. There were two lines. One for Will Call, for people who already had tickets, and the other for the promo passes, which were no guarantee of admittance. Four people arrived before I did. It seemed likely that at least five of us would get in.
At first, our line was right by the red carpet, and it was exciting to think we would be so close when the stars arrived in their black stretch limousines. Unfortunately, after about an hour, they moved the line half a block away. By now, the line was wrapping around the corner.
Glittery events tend to bring out strange people. They try to con their way in, or maybe they are just attracted to the lights. Like moths. One bizarre older lady with way too much black gunk around her eyes kept hovering near the corner. She must have poured half the bottle of perfume on that morning. Even with a cold breeze blowing, the scent was stifling. Then there were the two young ladies I noticed walking back and forth several times. One of them was wearing a too short too tight not warm enough dress and wobbly looking high heels. Her friend explained to the group of four on line behind me that she was in the movie, but they had neglected to send her tickets.
As a skeptical New Yorker, I didn’t buy that for a second. She had most likely worked background one day on one scene, which does not entitle her to credit in the film, nor tickets to the premiere. Still, the people behind me felt sorry for her and gave up one of their passes. The two girls then elected not to get in line, but instead walked over to the official looking guys with name tags. Guess they were hoping to do better than just get in?
About seven o’clock, the people from the online site came to scan our passes and give us our tickets. At first I was given seat J-24. Then, the young couple in front of me realized they had been assigned seats that were not together. The group of four behind us had already been given their tickets, which means that a total of nine passes had already been scanned, and nine tickets handed out. The people from the online site went away for a few minutes to check the mistake. When they returned, they decided to start again, and gave us all new tickets. Now I was given seat J-26. The result of this minor error was that there were now nine empty seats in my section. Once the passes were scanned, maybe there was no way to reassign those seats?
A few minutes later, we were led inside. Everyone headed for the free popcorn and soda. Except me. I don’t do high fructose corn syrup or mono-diglycerides, so I skipped over the junk food and headed straight into the theatre. I was the only one in there for a few minutes. Well, me and about a dozen ushers. It’s a beautiful art deco building. Spectacularly decorated walls and ceiling. J-26 turned out to be on the aisle, against the wall house right. Pretty far down, actually. Closer than I normally prefer to sit in a movie theatre, but I was happy to be right where I was. In fact, I had gotten rather cold while waiting on line for three hours, and now I was huddled in my seat trying to get warm. I pulled my turtle neck over my chin and thrust my hands inside my jacket. I don’t mind admitting that I fell asleep.
When I woke, I realized that if I was already seated inside, I would not be able to see Barbra Streisand walk the red carpet. I’ve always loved her, it would be a thrill to see her up close. Should I go back outside? What if I did that, and then missed her entrance into the theatre? Trying to decide on the smartest course of action, I turned to look around the room and locked eyes with Jason Gould. Her son. He was sitting seven rows back, three seats in from the next aisle. My row and the row behind had thirteen seats each, but since nine of those were empty, I had an unobstructed sight line to where Barbra was sure to be sitting. Next to Jason.
He was alone. Lazing kind of low in the chair. I continued to survey the house, hoping to find a couple of friends of mine who also had tickets. No luck. They were probably outside watching the celebrities on the red carpet. Jason locked eyes with me a couple more times, so I couldn’t keep looking over there. I’d just have to wait to see Barbra when she comes in. I went back to sleep.
“This is the last one of these I’m ever going to.”
“At least we’re sitting on the aisle. Oh look, we get a gift bag.”
“An umbrella. A blanket. Some M&Ms.”
I awoke to the elderly Jewish couple who had taken the seats directly behind me. The gift bags actually contained a long sleeved Guilt Trip tee, and a metal thermos in a travel case, but the couple were so funny.
“The thee-yay-tah is bee-yoo-tiful.”
“This is what they all used to look like.”
“I should have brought my cell phone. Look, everyone’s got a cell phone.”
“Did you see that big stretch limo pull up? She was in there.”
Huh? She was? How long was I asleep? I looked over at Jason, who was now sitting with Rozalind Kind. Barbra’s sister. Maybe I should take a stroll into the lobby? I was no doubt missing all the excitement.
“What time does the movie start?”
“Seven thirty SHARP.”
“What time is it now?”
They were hysterical. I got up and gazed across the large space. It wasn’t full yet, so I hurried back up the aisle to the lobby. There were still people on the red carpet.
“If I go out, can I get back in?” I asked the pretty usher stationed by the ornate front doors.
“There is no out,” She politely offered.
“No problem.” I heard them make an announcement that the movie was about to start. Everyone please take your seats. I lingered a bit longer, sure that Barbra would be whisked in at the last possible moment, then decided I should make my way back to my seat.
The crowd broke into applause as the lights were dimming, and I was pretty certain who that was for, but I did not see her. When I sat down once more, the screen was illuminated and I was able to look over in Jason’s direction. James Brolin was seated on the aisle, with that shock of white hair, and Barbra Streisand was sitting between them.
She was hard to miss. Some stars look radiant, and she is one of them. Her hair was shiny, and her skin practically glowed. For the first couple of scenes, I was watching the Barbra in person instead of the Barbra on the screen. She, on the other hand, was completely focused on the film. She wasn’t whispering things to her husband or her son, as I would have expected her to. Once the plot began to unfold, I got absorbed in the movie, and only glanced back at Barbra after a particularly touching moment here or there.
The Guilt Trip is funny, but also poignant. The two actors have unmistakeable chemistry, which is something that cannot be manufactured. It’s either there or it isn’t. They are immensely appealing as mother and son. The audience laughed, and cheered, and applauded in all the right places.
After the final, heart-warming scene, but before the credits rolled, four ushers appeared at Barbra’s side to help her make a clean exit. Not being fond of crowds, I waited until the house was nearly empty before leaving. Once outside, I searched again for my friends, without success. I noticed the big stretch limo the older lady had mentioned. There was sure to be a reception nearby, but who knows how long that will go on? I had already seen Barbra Streisand in person once tonight. That was enough. I’m not a stalker. It was cold and I was hungry and did not feel compelled to wait around for another couple of hours. I called it a night and walked back to my car.
Oh yeah, I reached in the bag and found the M&Ms. No high fructose corn syrup. Perfect.