The American Film Institute gave its 37th Life Achievement Award to Michael Douglas last night. I want to thank Mitchell Squires and Wendy Coto of TV Land and MTV respectively. They are amazing and always come through. You need to be watching all of the TV Land shows you can find so Mitchell and company keep letting us hit these red carpets. You can see the entire AFI Award ceremony on TV Land on July 19th, but here is an account of the red carpet last night that I think you will really love.
I'm an investigative reporter by trade, not a star f**ker. I know more about evil pedophile priests in Southern California than I do the latest fashion or films. So what the hell was I doing at the red carpet for the AFI Michael Douglas love-fest at the Sony Studios lot on Thursday?
Having a date night with my chica, for one. She's an avid reader of Crazy Days and Nights, and won the contest to be this blog's correspondent to the event (I must admit I enjoy the blind items—the man has his sources!). But as someone who's more used to hurling tough questions at scoundrels than love letters at starlets, I viewed the red carpet as an opportunity to see my papparazzi brethren in action.
Following, then, is notes, quotes, and observations from the event:
*There were at least 50 photographers, 20 camera operators, five bloggers and assorted print and radio media. For movie stars! The political wonk in me doesn't get it. If all those "reporters" focused their vigor on exposing corruption instead of yelling at movie stars to pose, public corruption would be as extinct as polio.
*Photographers were at the front of the red carpet; bloggers, last. If I were a photographer, I'd lie on my application and say I'm a blogger. While arrivals had to deal with a den of screaming hyenas (a cliché, yes, but the howls they emitted! More than 100 feet away, we could hear "KATHLEENMICHAELKATHERINEGODKNOWSWHOELSE!"), us at the end could get the stars alone. The only problem was that the special's handlers by that point were ushering the stars away. Still, the end: hidden secret.
*We were told the stars would start arriving at 5:30 in the afternoon, but the first A-list name didn't start walking until 5:54: film critic Leonard Maltin. I was impressed that people still knew who he was. I was even more impressed that he patiently walked down the line, talking to everyone and always maintaining his easy grin. By the time he got to me, I only had one question: was Michael Douglas more influential as a producer or an actor? "Both," he said. "When you win an Oscar like he did for Wall Street, that shows your talent as an actor. But when you produce One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, that shows he's done pretty well, too." Total class act, and my girlfriend LOVED his Jimmy Durante lapel pin. Do people know who Jimmy Durante is?
*Kathleen Turner was nice but had some type of insect—an ant? Gnat? Fly?—on her chest for looooong periods of time. She was nice, if a bit saucy.
*What the hell was former Los Angeles Lakers coach Pat Riley doing there? Other than both of them looking similar, I had no clue. Riley didn't acknowledge any reporter.
*The main guy from Will and Grace was a dick; Jessie Metcalfe, very nice.
*Hugh Hefner looks OLD. He had three handlers in addition to three blonds and seemed as if he didn't know what the hell was going on. You know it's bad when Kirk Douglas—who suffered a stroke that still impairs his speaking ability and is 10 years older than Hef—looked WAY better. Kirk, by the way, though 93, walked strongly and spoke to everyone. Great guy, and inspiring.
*People who sneaked in to not face reporters: Matthew McConaughey, Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito to name a few
*Sorry I didn't get more quotes, but what could I ask people? Michael Douglas this-and-that? The only Michael Douglas films I've ever seen is the Romancing the Stone ones! The only real interviews I did were political, which leads to...
*Benicio del Toro. The guy reeked of arrogance from a mile away, grinning behind sunglasses. The only thing I know about del Toro is that he's Puerto Rican, so I asked him what did he think about the nomination of fellow boricua Sonia Sotomayor to a seat on the Supreme Court. "Excellent, excellent," he snickered while turning around to speak with another reporter. Note to people: never ignore an investigative reporter, as they won't stop until they either get an answer or fight trying.
I decided to go even more political. "Puerto Rico: independence, commonwealth, or state?" I asked. He stopped. "What's your plan?" he shot back.
"I asked you—answer the question," I responded, peppering in some Puerto Rican slang to soften him up. It didn't work.
"What's your plan?" he yelled again. A handler was trying to guide him to safer terrain, but he tried to get closer.
"You're Puerto Rican; I'm Mexican." I said.
"Gimme a plan! Gimme a plan!" he started rambling before finally walking away.
COWARD. For someone who's expressed undying love for the commie Che Guevara, for del Toro to not take a stance on his homeland's limbo nature is weak.
*At least Warren Beatty had fun with my cajoling. I tried to ask him if he thought California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ruined it for politicians who wanted to run for actor office one day. "I can't talk about Arnold," Beatty responded with a grin. Then, his wife Annette Bening, jumped in. "I think you meant ACTORS who want to run for POLITICS," she said in a sweet manner. Bening could've been a bitch defending her man, but she was an absolute lady. Kudos to the both of them.
*Tobey Maguire posed for the cameras, then ran off not wanting to face question. Wimp.
*What happened to Melanie Griffith's Working Girl curves? She's super-skinny now. Most people thought she was The Cougar from TV Land as she ran by.
*Michael Douglas was one of the last stars, was trying to answer all questions, but kept getting shepherded out of the red carpet by the AFI people. I asked him the only question that mattered to me: "Your hair is so great; I'm 30 and balding. What tips can you give me to keep my hair?" He laughed a sincere laugh and said, "Look at my father. He's 92!"