I was interviewed today. This wasn’t necessarily a first for me, but it was unexpected.
I saw the first camera crew shortly after taking my seat in the very first row of the theatre to watch Spider-Man 3. When the guy at the window, the one that hasn’t seen a gift certificate before, tells you that there is only one seat left pay heed to the inquisitive look he is giving you. There were actually dozens of seats left when I sat down, but other than the openings in the front three rows the pickings were thin.
It was roughly five minutes before the start of the movie when something new came on the screen in place of the static image of a sign kernel of popcorn. Simultaneously, two guys and camera set up shop in the left corner of the theatre, one glowing light peering back at the audience.
The cable news network MSNBC was trying something new and we were one of the lucky few chosen to give it a try, the lady on the screen said. This new thing was an audience participation game – a strange variation on the old video game with the blocks on the top and the little slider on the bottom wherein you keep a tiny ball in play by bouncing it off the slider and destroy all the blocks on top. The audience would control the slider by leaning to the left or right. Some of the blocks would break and reveal news headlines.
A camera (hidden right in front of me I guessed by my location and size on the movie theatre screen) tracked the audience’s movements. I had the distinct feeling that the system didn’t work entirely great as I watched the audience and the slider bar not moving in tandem. However, it was fun as the audience got more and more into the game. People were yelling “LEFT” and “RIGHT”. The slider bar would move slowly in response and the ball would sink off the screen to collective moans.
When it was over the camera crew shut off their light and disappeared. The lady on the screen encouraged us to play at home on msnbc.com. I have. It was more fun in the theatre.
Between the game and my interview was a movie. It was good. I cried a little. The people behind me cried and sniffled. Spider-man won, of course, but people died and one of the people had just redeemed himself and helped save the world. The injustice of it all!
I was pondering that exact thought and wondering what gene was defective that could cause me to get weepy at an action movie when a short, well dressed and attractive woman singled me out of the crowd for a little chat. Just as I was thinking God had smiled down upon me I noticed the guy with the camera. Ah well, she still picked me out of the crowd even if for more nefarious reason than a guy might hope.
She asked me if I wouldn’t mind saying a few words about my movie experience. I said I wouldn’t mind. She asked if I remembered who sponsored the game at the beginning of the movie. I hesitated as I wound back through the three villains, crushed hearts, spider webs and revenge. I told her it had been MSNBC. We then discussed how I compared the third movie to the others (she had only seen the third).
I was handed a little script telling the world that I, Brent, was giving the production company full rights to my likeness and whatever words I chose to say. By this time I was awash in that pesky camera light and had gathered a small crowd of onlookers.
Before the first I question I was coached to be enthused about the Newsbreaker game. I did so. I swung around a few broad arm gestures while I explained the experience. I would recommend the game to others, I said. It was definitely more fun than staring at commercials or that idiot popcorn kernel on the screen for 10 or 15 minutes, I continued.
After 5 or 6 questions, I was told I did a good job by the attractive interviewer. The less attractive camera guy told me that there was plenty of good stuff there. We said goodbye, I parted the now thronging crowd of onlookers and made my way back out into the real world.
Some other more entertaining sort probably took my place in front of the camera as I headed back down the road to home. Such is the way with show business. It was still unexpected and fun. I’d been interviewed before. The first was about Bob Devaney’s death (or was it Charlie McBride’s retirement) one day at the Nebraska Bookstore by the Channel 11 news crew. They put Steve on the screen, but I got a few lines dubbed over on B roll. I also did a piece for the Lincoln Action Program after I was robbed at gunpoint, but that was to help fundraising and get juvenile delinquents off the street. This was more fun.
This was Hollywood! (Well, as close as I’ll get.)