Friday, January 30, 2009

Martin Short Ate My Dinner

The following is a re-run that was originally posted on my former blog.  Enjoy!

 Billy Crystal was not among the people I'd have expected to find sitting at my desk that evening, but when I entered my office he was right there reading the sports section of the Los Angeles Times.

The year was 1989, and the test screening of "When Harry Met Sally..." had just ended. As was often the case when our theater had well-known guests, Mr. Crystal decided to relax in the office until the crowd had dissipated.

"Mr. Crystal, what a surprise. Can I get you something? A Coke, whatever?"

"Nah, I'm good. Okay if I wait here a while?"

"Yeah, no problem." I didn't want to impose, so I sat down at the other desk and worked on the employee schedule.

"So, what movie do you think's gonna do the most business this summer?" he asked.

Billy Crystal is asking ME for my opinion on movies? Um, okay. "Well, Batman is gonna break some records, I'm sure, and of course the new Indiana Jones."

"Yeah, that's what I think, too."

We chatted for about half an hour about movies, the Yankees, Saturday Night Live. He was truly a great guy, just what you'd expect from watching his movies.

At the other end of the spectrum would be Bette Midler. After a screening of "Beaches" (which would be more appropriately titled "Bi-atches", if you ask me), I was in my office working on payroll when the hag and a few of the producers came into the office and sat down. I kept working (I did mention that this was MY office, right?) and after a few minutes I noticed they weren't saying anything.

I looked up into the icy glare of Miss Midler. She held the stare for a few seconds, looked at the producer and said, "Is the asshole going to leave or should we just talk right in front of him?"

I was taken aback, to say the least. "Would you like me to step out for a few minutes?"

"Uh, yeah." A while later the producer found me and apologized for "Miss Midler's" rudeness, explaining that she was just in a bad mood. My first thought was, Yeah, well, let's see if she gets shown in focus in MY theater. Andy, you know, I do have a film splicer . . . I COULD just cut her ass right out of the movie. Or maybe go through frame-by-frame and draw little mustaches and devil's horns on that wrinkled mug. Why the hell not?

Kevin Costner and David Lee Roth lived in the area, and both came to the theater every few weeks or so. At one point, Costner was coming in so often that he knew me by name. One night I was counting out money in the box office when the cashier came up to me and said, "Uh, Danny . . . Kevin Costner would like to talk to you."

So I said, "Hi Kevin, what can I do for you?" The cashier's jaw hit the floor.

"Hey, we're a little early for our movie, would it be okay if we ducked into another theater until ours starts?"

"Of course, but you might want to avoid theater number three. I hear that movie is pretty horrible."

He looked over at the marquee, which read Field of Dreams, chuckled, and jokingly (I think) told me to shut up.

David Lee Roth was quite the character, in a sometimes comical, sometimes frightening way. There were, as we came to realize, "Three Faces of Dave". Sometimes he'd come in "undercover", that is, wearing a cap, dark glasses, and an overcoat. On those occasions, if approached, he would be surly, rude, and usually profane. "Get the fuck away from me" was a common response. Other times, he'd be wearing a casual outfit, hair in a ponytail perhaps, and he'd be very friendly and engaging. And then there was Dave Number Three, who looked like he'd just stepped off stage. Spandex, wild hair, loud, boisterous and, most likely, hammered.

He'd shout out his order at the concession stand, "POPCORN AND A COKE THERE, GORGEOUS!" He demanded the limelight.

And finally, Mr. Martin Short. One night, I went across the street to get my dinner . . . a bagel sandwich and a grape juice. I went back to my office, put my dinner on my desk and went to start up one of the movies. When I came back, to my disbelief, Martin Short was sitting at my desk eating my turkey and cheese on a plain bagel!

He looked up, mouth full of turkey, and said, "Oh. This was yours, wasn't it?" He went on to explain that sometimes at these screenings, food would be provided and he just assumed . . . he then gave me 20 bucks, which I assured him was way more than I had spent on dinner, but he insisted. Charles Grodin came in a few minutes later (we were screening the flop "Clifford") and the two of them started bantering back and forth. It was hilarious. They were both very engaging, and down-to-earth guys.

Over the few years that I worked at the theater, I also got to meet (among others) Wayne Gretzky (unbelievably gracious - spent almost an hour in the lobby signing autographs), Jodie Foster (hilarious), Robert Reed (asshole), Chevy Chase (tall asshole), and Glenn Close (very nice). I'd have to say there were many more positive experiences than negative ones.

But hey. How many people can say they've been called an asshole by Bette Midler?

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