It started out like any other travel day. I drove to Minneapolis, stopping in at the office to give back the camcorder I'd borrowed and drop off an invoice. This time, since all I had was carryon luggage (normally, I check one bag, but I was NOT about to let the costume out of my hands), I went straight to security. I expected the usual hassle plus having to open that bag for inspection. The lady on the X-ray machine said "Boy, that one has a lot of wires." Even so, they didn't ask to look, so I didn't argue.
Had breakfast at Chili's, then went to the WorldClub to get online. The WorldClub (or something like it) membership is great for frequent travelers: it's a place to sit and relax, or get online, or take care of business, away from the usual airport crush. I got a couple of questions answered, caught up on email (a neverending struggle for me), and then headed for the flight.
The flight was about 25 minutes early. At the end, I called vakkotaur to let him know I'd arrived, and at the end, said, "Well this is where I turn into someone resembling an Important Person." That turned out to be only slightly wrong: it happened at the foot of the escalator to baggage claim. There was a guy waiting with a baggage cart and a sign with my name on it. I introduced myself, and we headed outside...to where a stretch limo was parked, waiting.
The drive to the hotel took about 45 minutes. The driver was knowledgeable and talkative, and the time passed quickly. He told me about the hotel's history, and about the areas we passed through...and even pointed out the reasonably good Memphis barbecue place in the middle of the most Orthodox Jewish area of the city. At the end, he unloaded my bag, and I went inside.
The Roosevelt Hollywood Hotel is indeed historic. The first Oscars were presented here. Bogart proposed to Bacall here. The This Is Your Life television show was broadcast from here. The ghost of Montgomery Clift is supposed to roam the halls on one floor rehearsing lines (though I haven't seen that). The place feels historic; while it's obviously been renovated, they've kept a lot of the old decorations and furniture, and the overall feel is from the late 20s. My room is nothing to really write home about, but the feel is the same even in here.
The hotel is right in the heart of Hollywood. Looking out my window, I can see Grauman's Chinese Theater (yes, I know the name's been changed, but the sign has not) across the street; the Kodak Theater is just down the way; and in the distance, the famous Hollywood sign is framed by buildings.
I sat around for a bit, until I got a call from The Don and Mike Show. They'd called earlier in the day to ask if I'd be interested in another interview, and I'd agreed. They wanted to hear about the TV appearance, and to crow a bit about having had me on first. (Or almost first, plus or minus the guys from CZARADIO.) I made the mistake of mentioning the hotel's name on the air; they said that I might want to put my phone on do-not-disturb, and I said I didn't care, as I could hang up on people as fast as anyone. They replied that I'd really get flooded now, as their listeners would take that as a challenge. They didn't. I only got one quick call to congratulate me on the TV appearance.
The show's producer called a bit later, and laid out the evening's schedule for me. I read for a while until an intern came to collect me from the hotel. We walked the two blocks to the El Capitan Theater and went in the back door, after I got signed in with security.
I sat in the front audience section for a bit while people looked relaxedly busy. (Only in LA.) They wanted to do a lighting rehearsal to make sure the costume's lights stood out, and some sound checks, before the main rehearsal. This meant I'd have to get into costume early on. That's not a big problem, since it's very comfortable to wear. I went up to my dressing room - and found nobody had unlocked it yet. The intern went off to deal with that. There was a sign on the door with the show's logo and my name. Neat. I got to take it home with me. While I was waiting, I went upstairs for a bite to eat from the catering table.
I got inside, finally, and into costume. Back downstairs to the set. Everyone thought the costume was really cool. The stage manager showed me where I'd make my entrance, and how. We spent a couple of minutes setting the mark I'd walk up to - then redoing it in hot pink tape instead of black so I could see it in the dim lighting. We rehearsed the walk over to the couch, and then we did all that a few more times to make sure everything was right. We did a couple of posed still pictures to go with poses from the movie, side-by-side, but those didn't get used. That done, I went back upstairs to my dressing room.
The producer asked if I needed something to eat. I did, and they ordered me a very nice cheeseburger from a place next door. I got back out of the costume far enough to eat it without getting the gloves dirty, then replaced all of the batteries and did some other maintenance tasks while waiting. I also completed some paperwork, and answered staff questions here and there.
They did my makeup while I was waiting. The makeup lady asked me what I used when I was on TV, and I told her that this was my first time. She wound up using a light touch of tan powder, just enough to kill the shine. She wanted to know if I was going to take the helmet off, and I decided I wasn't going to, so she didn't bother with my shiny forehead.
By this time, the audience was in the theater. I couldn't watch the video feed because the switch had been taken out of my dressing room for use elsewhere, so I sat and watched CNN Headline News. The producer came in and discussed the questions I might be asked, and we talked about answers. Finally, the stage manager came up and told me to turn on the lights, because it was time to go downstairs.
I went to the little spot backstage where I would wait to go on. Someone handed me a glass of water, which I really needed. I watched the end of the segment before mine (with the guy doing his Michael Jackson support bit), listened to the band play during the commercial break (damn, but Jim Belushi blows a MEAN harmonica, doesn't he?), listened to Jimmy's introduction, and then I was on!
Just as rehearsed, I walked out to the mark and stood there while Jimmy walked up. We went over to the couch, and Jimmy did the interview. He used some of the questions we'd discussed, but as a starting point, and things flowed very naturally. I was a little surprised at how relaxed I felt. Jimmy got in a couple of good zingers, but I got the feeling they were as much for the sake of form as anything else. He seemed genuinely curious as to why a guy my age would dress up as a movie character. Finally, he brought up the trip outside; I'd been told about this, so it wasn't a surprise at all.
My biggest concern proved to be unfounded. I've been battling the aftereffects of a cold the past week, and have a wicked cough at the moment. They had water handy, and I sipped at it whenever I got the chance. My voice was only at 50%, but it held up - for the evening. I pushed it too hard, and it sounds like hammered crap now. The cough stayed away for the entire time I was on camera.
During the break, we chatted briefly, and then the stage manager led me and a crew outside. They positioned me in front of the El Capitan Theater's ticket window, where a poster for their screening of the movie TRON would be visible in the background. The crew lined up some folks passing by on the street, and set up the speaker they'd use to relay Jimmy's questions so we could hear them. When the lights went on, they started bringing people over. You'd think that the costume would be recognizable as to who it was, right, especially with that poster in the background? Wrong. It took three tries to find someone who knew what it was supposed to be.
After that was done, I went back inside in time to sit on the couch and watch the last act, a couple of comedians doing an "I hate your guts" bit. Two fast segments, which gave them a break to put the monitor on the couch, and we were done.
Afterwards, I went down in front of the stage to meet the coworkers I'd gotten invited. We talked briefly, Jimmy stopped to thank me for coming, and then I went upstairs to change out of the costume and pack up. My coworkers and I spent a little time in the green room unwinding, and then I pleaded fatigue (and my cough decided to reassert itself) and went back to my hotel.
I got online to catch up on email and look over the LJ, and wound up IMing a rennie performer friend and actress from Des Moines who'd been watching the show, as well as bronxelf_ag001, who had been concerned about how I'd get treated and wasn't watching on TV (she has no cable). We talked for a while, and then I got offline. By this time, it was 11:30 Pacific, so I decided to stay up and watch the show. I almost didn't make it; my cough kept me awake as much as anything else through Nightline's rehashing of the Iraq prisoner scandal.
Finally, Jimmy's show came on. The stuff that happened before I came on was pretty good. I was surprised at how I came out looking, and quite pleased. I'm very happy with how things turned out.
I've got a couple of hours before another car (they didn't say, but I'm expecting another stretch limo) comes to take me back to LAX. That's when I turn back into a pumpkin. It's been a lot of fun, and I'd love to do it again.