I'm typically not a guy that likes to hang out in crowds. But a Hollywood-like premiere doesn't roll through our little town very often. I attended the benefit showing of Rain Man back in the late 80s, so I sort of expected the premiere of We Are Marshall to be similar.
It wasn't, in neither style or substance.
This shindig was better. Glitzy, and with a whole lot more planned pizazz than the classy-but-subdued 80s gala. There was the green carpet, Hummer limos, national media and a handful of big-name stars. Stars who seemed genuine about their affection for this story, and for this town.
Oh! And local women wearing lots of fur. On a 60 degree day.
It's a sign of wealth, I suppose; however, wearing full-length fur (even faux fur) on a warm day under heavy floodlighting is, to me at least, more a sign of goofiness.
Mrs. Film Geek, our daughter Maddisen and I were a bit discouraged when we arrived on the scene and found this line waiting for bleacher seating to the pre-flick carpet walk. Considering we were about 750 people back, getting bleacher seats didn't look promising.
Mrs. Film Geek spotted a friend who was working as an usher. He noticed us from across the street, walked up and very quietly pulled us from the line. After he said: "Follow me," I overheard the woman behind us complain: "Where do they think they are going?" We weren't sure, but followed Phillip anyway. We figured it was better than where we were.
And it was!
Phillip put us on Press Row, alongside the green carpet and right beside a crew from ExtraTV.
Huntington native and ExtraTV reporter Katie Joel (who also is the wife of Billy Joel) was to our immediate left. She was very sweet, and pretty generous with the crowd. I suspect as a native Huntingtonian, she knew how cool this night was for 10-year-old girls from Appalachia. She went out of her way to make the night even nicer.
Then, after the $1,000-per-ticket-folks walked down the carpet, the stars lined up for interviews with Katie. Because the Film Geek Family happened to be on Katie's immediate right, we were treated to the whole scoop.
McG seems genuine in his affection for this movie, and for the story it tells. This movie was important to McG mostly, though, because it allows him to reinvent himself. He was labeled from the start as an action-film director, and I think he wants to be taken more seriously as an artist. We Are Marshall is a step in that direction.
Kate Mara, who plays Annie Cantrell in the movie, attended the premiere. After her interview was over, I said very quickly: "Hey, you rocked in Brokeback!" She turned to me, smiled and said: "Thank you so much!"
My heart skipped a beat.
In every interview I've seen with Arlen Escarpeta, he's shown affection for Huntington. This ExtraTV interview was no exception. He seemed honestly affected by the small town charm, and the friendship of Young Thundering Herd QB Reggie Oliver, the real-life Marshall football player he plays in the movie.
Matthew Fox and Red Dawson, the real-life coach Fox plays in the film, arrived together. They talked about developing a life-long friendship, and Fox announced in his interview they liked to "sit around, drink beer and shoot the shit." I doubt that makes the ExtraTV report. Fox is my daughter's favorite actor.
Her heart skipped a beat.
I accomplished my mission of seeing Coach Jack Lengyel. He was really gracious in his interview, and spoke with great affection about his time at Marshall. He's been back to Huntington many times over the years, so I know he loves the town and the university. He seems to be such a great man.
The place went crazy for this guy. To his credit, McConaughey really worked the crowd hard. Event organizers had to pull him along in order to meet their time schedule. He seemed to really enjoy meeting people, signing autographs and mingling. During the interview, Mrs. Film Geek's heart skipped a beat. Or three.
UPDATE: USAToday provides this video of the California premiere that took place Thursday, December 14, 2006. McG, Matthew McConaughey, Josh Halloway from Lost and others are interviewed in the 1:59 second video.