Friday, February 25, 2011

The good side of sidekick

Today, we conclude a week of stories about celebrities I have worked with.

Two years ago I was contacted by my buddy Greg Collins who had been freelancing at TBWA Chiat/Day. He told me they had sold a last minute idea to Pepsi about Will Arnett hosting an online Super Bowl Party. They wanted to bring me in to help brainstorm ideas and participate in a run and gun/improv type production. And because it was going to be broadcast online, it would sort of be no-holds-barred.

Great, I'm in, I told Greg.

We met Will and his handlers who promised to show up at the shoot with an ensemble of A-list comic actors to fill out the cast.

I show up at the shoot at about 7 in the morning. We were instructed to leave our cars in church parking lot and take a production van up to the house in the hills of Los Feliz. I get in the van, still half asleep without the benefit of any coffee. Accordingly, I keep my sunglasses on and stare out the window, so as to avoid any small talk with the crew. I'm worthless in the morning until I've had some caffeine.

As the van is going up the steep and narrow hills, a big chunky guy sitting next to me makes eye contact. I don't recognize him. And I'm still doing my best to skip the chit chat. He, being a poor reader of body language, persists. He leans in closer, extends a hand and introduces himself...

"Hi, I'm Andy Richter."

And it was.

It caught me off guard for so many reasons. First of all, stars don't usually ride in the production van. They usually drive right up to the shoot and have some production boy sort out the logistics. Second of all, I was surprised at myself for not recognizing him. I usually have a good eye for that sort of thing. Recently we were in Healdsburg, CA and I spotted Sam Shepherd walking into a bookstore. My wife didn't believe me until the woman behind the counter confirmed the sighting.

But the most shocking thing was the way Andy introduced himself to me. Most celebrities, even if they're on the B or C list, don't make it a habit to introduce themselves to the civilians (I hate show biz people and their demeaning nomenclature.)

I had always been a fan of Andy Richter's work.
After that day, I had also become a fan of Andy Richter.

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