BOOK & BLOG
September 7, 2008
HOW I SURVIVED THE RED CARPET AND ACTUALLY HAD FUN
As most of you know, I was really nervous about going to the Hollywood premiere of “True Blood,” though I was of two minds about going. Once I decided I should, I realized it would be wonderful to include my whole family my husband and three children. After all, I figured, such an opportunity might never come about again.
We stayed at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills (on Doheny). It was really one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in and during my tours, I’ve experienced quite a few. The staff is absolutely first rate. The food is wonderful. The rooms are comfortable. I can’t say enough about it.
Wesley Snipes was walking out as we were walking in, and my daughter exchanged a “Hey, how are you?” with him, thinking he looked vaguely familiar. Our sons realized instantly who he was. I was rummaging in my purse for some Advil, and completely missed this Hollywood moment.
On Thursday morning, we went on the Warner Brothers VIP tour. There isn’t much VIP about this tour; anyone can go if they fork out some money. In our case, HBO was kind enough to arrange it for us, so I don’t know how much it costs, but it’s worth a lot. A sort of trolley takes you into the studio, and you ride through the sound stages, getting the history of Warner Brothers from the tour guide. The tour includes a visit to the costume museum (wonderful! And the second story is all Harry Potter), the vehicle museum (not too many, but they’re fun, and they take a green screen picture of you greeting the Hogwarts train), the prop warehouse, and an actual working soundstage. We got to see the set of “The Mentalist,” the new Simon Baker vehicle. We also got a glimpse of an outside shoot for a scene for “ER.” We got to see the New York Street, the Middle American small town, and other streets that are used all the time in filming, and we got to go in a few of the houses that are changed around for every different movie. The tour was a lot of fun.
Then we had to get back to hotel, eat a late lunch, and get ready for the premiere. My daughter and I enjoyed the visit from a hair and makeup artist, Laila Sardo, who did her best to make us look beautiful. Not only was she very good at her job, but she was an entertaining visitor, too. (Thanks again, HBO!)
When we were all dressed to the nines, we got into the limo and rode to the event, held at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. I think this was the original Cinerama screen, for those of you who remember the advent of Cinerama. We were early, so we were advised to cruise around for a while before coming in for our landing. This was no hardship.
When our driver was alerted by radio that it was time for us to arrive, we pulled up to the building as if we hadn’t passed it a couple of times already. There was a line of press cordoned off, and a literal red carpet. My family was ushered inside, and I discovered I was going to do the press line. The wonderful HBO people assigned me a handler, God bless her, whose job it was to tell the press who they were interviewing, so there wouldn’t be any embarrassing moments. I thought the press members were so sharp, since perhaps none of them had expected to talk to me (I’m not sure about that, though), but they all thought of questions. Granted, the questions were markedly similar, but they were also logical. I was working, so I wasn’t nervous, but I was trying to be alert, too, so I wouldn’t say THE AWFUL THING, the dreaded faux pas that people forever remember every time your name comes up. I didn’t this time -- at least to the best of my recollection.
This seemed to go on forever, and I posed for a lot of photographs with the cast and with Alan (this process is very confusing, since all the photographers call to you, wanting you to look one way or another). Ryan Kwanten and I agreed that our faces hurt after the first ten minutes.
Just Google “True Blood Premiere” and you will find all kinds of pictures taken on the press line, and you can see my outfit, which took up so much of my worry time in previous weeks. I think it turned out to be right for the occasion, and it was comfortable (thanks, Mara and Ronni at HBO, for emphasizing it needed to be comfortable).
After we’d gotten to our seats in the auditorium, we heard from the upper echelon of HBO, and then Alan Ball made a few comments about the show and the people who’d helped him get where he is. He introduced all the actors who had come to the premiere, and that was the first time I realized the brown-haired man sitting in front of me was Alexander Skarsgard. I am sure some of you would have fainted, but I was in such an altered state by then that it seemed only natural. I believe his father, Stellan, was sitting next to him, and perhaps another Skarsgard sibling. (I introduced myself to him after the viewing, and told him all my readers were very anxious to see him as Eric; he said he was feeling the pressure!)
To make the showing fun, HBO served drinks and popcorn before the showing began, incidentally.
Seeing the first two episodes on the big screen was certainly a very different experience, and you could really see all the details that make the show so wonderful. Though I’d seen the episodes before, I enjoyed them again. I hope you will, too. As an aside, I’ve seen the first five now and “True Blood” just gets better every week.
The after-party was next door on the roof of the parking garage, which HBO had transformed for the evening. The entire roof was carpeted in red, and in the middle was a huge tree surrounded by gravestones. These were marked off with iron railings draped with ropes of garlic. There were tables with names on them for the notables attending, and there were lots of other decorations (the Merlotte’s Bar and Grill sign, for example). I didn’t get to see the whole thing because I was so busy meeting and greeting. There were bars all around, and food stations with Louisiana food (or their version of Louisiana food) including gumbo, red beans and rice, sausage, cornbread and biscuits, and lots of other stuff. I got to eat maybe two tablespoons of food because I was so busy talking. I met (in no particular order): Michael Emerson (Ben on “Lost,” whose wife Carrie Preston plays Arlene), Lorna Scot (the shopper in the opening episode, and she’s a hoot and a half in person), Alexander Woo (who has written some of the episodes and is marvelously enthusiastic), Jace Everett (who sings the theme song), Nathan Barr (original music for the show), and Carol Dunn Trussell (a producer). Actors I got to chat with again (I’d met most of them at ComicCon) included Anna Paquin, of course, Stephen Moyer (who laughed when I told him one of my readers had said he even SAT sexy), Ryan Kwanten, Nelsan Ellis, Todd Lowe, Sam Trammell, Raul Trujillo (who plays Long Shadow, and is incredibly attractive), and Danielle Sapia (who plays Maudette so beautifully and looks completely different in person). I know I met a lot of other people, and enjoyed meeting them, including some ardent readers. There were other people I would have liked to have met (Doris Roberts and Willie Garson) but never had the chance to.
I’d like to publicly thank Anna, Stephen, Sam, Danielle, and Nelsan for being kind enough to have their picture taken with my children; I know how much an intrusion a request for a picture can be, and Anna was especially besieged with people who wanted to congratulate her.
I think that about covers the highlights of that evening. I wanted to share this with you, since all of you helped to put me in the position to enjoy such a great night.
Thanks a million.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris