Thursday, April 20, 2006
When we go to New York, we often try to amortize the cost of hotel, gas, and tolls over a couple of shows. In my previous post, I described the heroics we went through to get tickets to see Julia Roberts in her limited engagement of Three Days of Rain.
Encouraged by our backstage door photographing and autograph hunting on previous trips to New York, we decided that rather than seeing a different show the night before, we would try to get Julia Robert’s autograph and/or picture instead.
For this we would need a strategy. Previously, we had figured out that big stars tend to just camp out in the theater between the Saturday matinee and evening performances, so there was no use in being in Times Square until Saturday evening. Instead we drove up to New York Saturday morning and went to the Frick Gallery and had a great dinner at Vermicelli’s on the Upper East Side (thanks to Carol for the tip).
We checked into our hotel next to Grand Central Station and left our kid to his own devices for the evening. Here is the run down for the rest of the trip (times are approximate):
9:00 pm: We took the Times Square Shuttle from Grand Central Station. Then we walked down 42nd St to 8th Avenue and up to 45th.
9:20: Just past the theater for Avenue Q is the Jacobs where Three Days of Rain is playing. A crowd of about a dozen people is standing behind an imaginary line just outside the stage door.
9:25: We get in the crowd behind some other people. A mother with her daughter had seen the matinee show and had come back for autographs. There were a couple of guys with big cameras hanging around the curb. Someone tells us they usually come out about 10:30.
9:30: I take some pictures of the poster and the marquis to make sure everything is working with our compact digital camera.
9:35: A lady with a whole lot of flyers for The Caine Mutiny keeps handing them out telling us not to miss David Schwimmer next door.
9:45: Bored, I start checking out the other shows on the street. 45th Street this month is a great place for fans of Must See TV. Both Julia Roberts and Paul Rudd had been guest stars on Friends. In the next theater over, David Schwimmer from Friends and Tim Daly from Wings are in The Caine Mutiny. Across the street, Julianna Margulies from ER is in Festen.
9:50: A black GMC Yukon pulls up and parks just opposite the stage door. The driver gets out and shoos people to a line behind his doors.
9:55: Festen across the street lets out.
10:00: A security guy in suit comes by and spends about 5 minutes putting up security barricades in front of us. Across the way between the stage door and the theater exits, he builds a little pen with the gates. Anyone that tries to get in gets chased out.
10:05: My wife points out that Julianna Margulies has left the other theater. She is walking down the sidewalk with a male friend having a casual conversation. I keep trying to get ahead of them to take a picture, but they are walking too fast.
10:10: A fan spots Julianna in front of the Schubert Theater and asks to take a picture with her. Julianna then notices me and asks if I want a picture too. She stands still enough for a good shot and I thank her. I feel like some awkward stalker because she is so nice to me.
10:12: Back at the Jacobs, the crowd has gotten bigger. My wife is wedged between a guy holding an enormous camera and a 6’-3” tall female German tourist. I work my way up to right behind the German tourist and her normal sized friend.
10:15: The guy with big camera tells everybody they might not come out until 11:30 or later. Someone else says that she never comes to this side of line because we aren’t people that have seen the show.
10:20: The show lets out and a huge crowd of people piles into the gated pen on the other side. The crowd rolls out into the street and cops and security guys keep telling people they have to get out of the road. This AP article describes the insanity.
10:30: Every time a security guy goes in or out of the door, the huge mob starts waving programs and taking pictures until they realize it’s a false alarm.
10:38: A woman my wife recognizes as Julia’s mother comes out and gets in the SUV.
10:40: Julia Roberts comes out and pandemonium erupts. She goes to the theater side of the enclosure between the stage door and her SUV and signs their Playbills as people take pictures.
10:42: Julia comes to our side and my wife furiously waves her 8-1/2” x 11” e-ticket for tomorrow’s show in front of her. Julia takes out a Sharpie and signs it. I furiously snap pictures but the Amazon German girl keeps waving her hand in front of me.
10:43: Julia signs a few more things, ignoring the guy behind my wife with a bunch of enormous professionally printed posters.
10:44: Julia, having yet to say a single word to anyone, runs into the SUV and it drives off. The guys with huge cameras all hightail it out of there.
10:50: Bradley Cooper comes out to far less panic. My wife says, “My husband was a big fan of Kitchen Confidential.” He asks, “Where is he?” I wave my hand in his general direction. He also signs the ticket.
10:55: Paul Rudd comes out and works the line, also signing my wife’s ticket.
10:56: The crowd breaks up and we start walking back to the hotel, but are blocked by the huge shrieking mob watching David Scwhimmer get into a limo and drive off.
11:00: We walk back to the hotel ecstatic about getting the entire cast to sign the ticket for tomorrow’s show. We vow to frame it with the Playbill and any of our pictures that come out decent.
The next day we went to the actual show and thoroughly enjoyed it. As we left the theater we veered over into the veal pen for patrons, but never got closer than about four people deep from the security barricades. On the other side, we could see the same guys with the big cameras that were crowding my wife the night before.
My wife used the camera and I took some pictures with my phone. This being mid-afternoon, Julia had “I’m a big eff-ing star” sunglasses on. Having already scored our big haul the night before, the mood was anti-climatic as each of the cast came out in turn.
The press has not been very kind to Julia. The Washington Post says "that the pretty woman is pretty much in over her head." The New York Times compares her performance to "the unyielding stiffness of an industrial lamppost". I agree with many of the points the reviews make, but they seem to be going out of their way to pile on.
In conclusion we decided that Julia was being as nice as possible under the circumstances and that the real paparazzi are incredible assholes that get whatever they deserve when some celebrity hauls off and hits them.
Over two shows, we think Julia signed about a dozen people’s items and we were lucky enough to be among them. Thanks for the autograph, Julia. It’s a special treat we will keep forever with our memories.
All photographs are ©yellojkt and cannot be used without permission. Go get your own any Tuesday through Sunday night on 45th Street in front of the Jacobs Theater until June 18. Or visit here or here for more paparazzi style shots.