I'm a person who ends up meeting famous people a lot.
I don't try to do this. I don't really care about famous people. And it's not like they would ever remember meeting me. It's just this random thing that happens.
I'm told it has to do with astrology. That's as good a reason as any.
Some examples, you say?
I once met Sylvester Stallone in an elevator. I met Brian Setzer backstage at a Stray Cats concert. One time I was walking in a park in Vancouver, British Columbia, I turned a corner, and literally bumped into the actress Heather Graham. I would have knocked her to the pavement, except I caught her in my strong Irish arms.
At different times, I've had breakfast with Douglas Osheroff, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics, and a woman named Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize. I once ate lunch with Bonnie Raitt. I ate dinner with the poet Allen Ginsberg.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Anyway, never mind all that. This is a story about Harrison Ford. The year was 1995. And I was a young adult.
For some reason I was one of 10 or 12 people who organized the New York City premiere of a movie called "Sabrina," which was a remake of a much earlier movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and William Holden.
|Film poster of the original Sabrina movie.|
The new version of "Sabrina" starred Harrison Ford, and film newcomers Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear. I'm not really sure what happened with Julia Ormond, but Greg Kinnear went on to become a pretty big star in his own right.
Harrison Ford, as I'm sure you know, was the biggest movie star in the world. He was, and remains, one of my favorite actors.
As it turned out, the movie was kind of a critical disaster and a box office flop. But the event itself was a star-studded, glimmering gala and a rousing success. It raised about $250,000 for charity in one night.
Here's how it went. The movie was shown at the Paramount Lincoln Square Theater on Broadway in midtown Manhattan. It's a Loews now. The limos pulled up in front, there's the red carpet, the swarm of paparazzi vermin held back by a velvet rope.
The celebs rolled in. And the Wall Street types. Sumner Redstone, who owned half of Hollywood and was one of the richest men on earth at that moment, was there. We snapped a few photos as people arrived, and the bigwigs went in and I guess they watched the movie.
I was busy running around with a Motorola walkie-talkie and acting important. So I missed the movie in its entirety. No great loss, as I understand.
Afterwards, there was dinner at Tavern on the Green restaurant, which is about five minutes away on the edge of Central Park.
When I got to the restaurant, more rich and famous people were milling around. Kathleen Turner, often tapped as the sexiest actress of the 1980s, was already so drunk that the wall needed her to hold it up.
|Gratuitous shot of Kathleen Turner, in case you've forgotten who that is.|
Dinner was about to be served, but we had to get some more photographs of the three stars standing together before that happened.
Greg Kinnear and Julia Ormond were already in a back room with the two official photographers. But Harrison Ford wasn't around.
I went into the dining room, and there was Harrison Ford, sitting at a table with his wife Melissa Mathison. Melissa was the person who wrote the screenplay for the movie ET, which was such a mega-monster-hit during my childhood.
|Melissa Mathison and Harrison Ford in happy times. Does he look just a little devious here?|
Harrison Ford noticeably scowled when he saw me approach the table, big black Motorola in my hand. They only made them in black. Any color you want, as long as it's black.
"Mr. Ford?" I said. "We're ready for you to do your photos now."
He barely looked at me. "No pictures," he said.
Yeah. I was kind of afraid of that.
It had been impressed upon me days earlier that this might happen, and that there was a clause in ol' Harrison's contract which meant he had to pose for publicity photos. He had no choice but to do the photos, and I had no choice but to try and coax him into that back room.
"I promise," I said. "This is going to be completely painless. Ten minutes, and we'll have you back here before the..."
He raised a hand, a stop-sign hand like a school crossing guard. He gave me those angry movie star eyes. You know the eyes. You've seen the movies.
"Hey! Buddy. What did I just say to you? I said no pictures. Do you understand what that means?"
I did. I understood. Harrison turned away from me now, as if I were no longer there. So I backed off maybe ten feet to regroup and strategerize my next move.
After a moment, his wife Melissa got up from the table and came over to me. She smiled, maybe to put me at my ease, or maybe because it was, after all, no big deal. Honestly, how many photos can one man pose for?
"Give me five minutes alone with him," she said. "I'll get him in there."
"You got it," I said, and made myself disappear.
When I returned five minutes later to see how things were progressing, he was already in the back room, hamming it up with the other stars, all smiles, flashbulbs popping.
Of course, we know how this love story ends. Some years passed, and Harrison dumped Melissa overboard for the much younger, very slim, if not anorexic TV star, Ally McBeal.
Then Melissa turned around and jacked Harrison hard for a divorce settlement worth in the neighborhood of $90 million dollars.
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