Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Malibu and Beyond the Red Carpet

Syndicated cast and crew photo by Getty Images
My fifteen minutes of fame has come and gone. The private screening of An Affair of the Heart: The Journey of Rick Springfield and His Devoted Fans took place in Malibu, California  a week ago Monday...and I still have jet lag. It's taken me over a week to get myself together, get back into my normal routine and get down to business as usual. There is still laundry to do from the trip, and souvenirs to deliver to friends.There is church. There is writing.There is everyday life.

I am not cut out to a celebrity. I learned that a long time ago when I was a some-time production assistant working with celebrities: I don't have the patience for spin doctors and the smoke and mirrors of the business. I do love the creative process- I enjoy being in the studio and sitting through multiple 'takes' and seeing the end result of the production emerge. It's fascinating watching the evolution of something creative being born- fits and starts and changes as the clay becomes a work of art. It's even better being an integral part of that process.  

It's difficult to explain what the movie is about: obviously, the centerpiece is Rick Springfield and his fans. Seven people who admire him, or are inspired by or affected in some way by his music were chosen to represent a cross section of a fan base of millions. That's no exaggeration; his fan base is still huge...and it's multi-generational.The guy has had 17 top 40 hits and sold and estimated 19 million records. That's pretty impressive after 40 years in the business. The synopsis from the official film website says:
This documentary is much more than just an intense look at Rick Springfield. It’s a human-interest story about holding onto and following dreams, the significance of connecting with like-minded people on our personal journeys, and the importance of taking a break from our busy, stressful lives for some good, clean fun reminiscent of our adolescence or simpler days.     

On the red carpet
The intention of the film is much more expansive than that. It's about Joanne and Sue, " The Mommies" who eschew everyday family life by attending multiple Rick concerts as a type of  ' Girls Night Out'; Laurie, who overcame a life-threatening illness as a teen by focusing on the feelings expressed through the music; Steve and Jill, two fans who met because of their mutual love of Springfield's music, became engaged on one of Rick's fan cruises, and were married; Dustin, who made his stage debut as 3 years old singing on stage with Rick and was inspired to become a crackerjack guitarist-  who at 14 has released his first CD...and Yours Truly, spilling her guts  while attempting to look at once ministerial and sagely. The film shows the first six on location at concerts, then   follows them home to show a slice of life. The crew traveled to North Carolina to film me at church and at home, on their way to the release of Late, Late at Night ( Rick's autobiography, which has since made the New York Times Bestseller's list). I am the only featured fan who was not filmed  with Rick-and I am glad it was- because it  makes the segment poignant without the distraction of my Rock Star Muse- who has enough stage presence to be a genuine distraction, believe me.

The affair was upscale and glamorous, catered and exclusive. Not quite Hollywood-glamorous, but California dress/casual and semi-formal. I met Jackie Zeman, the actress who plays Nurse Bobbie Spencer on General Hospital, who was gracious and lovely. I also met John Durill of the Ventures,the instrumental group famous for the surf music sound ( Think of the maniacal guitars of  Wipe Out and the original theme to Hawaii Five-0, and you'll know who I'm talking about). I love that sound, because I really, really dig guitars...and I'll admit I momentarily gushed. He gave me a custom commemorative guitar pick from when the Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; I'm having it made into a necklace ( it will go perfectly with my sterling silver and red enameled Fender Strat earrings). Yes, I really do own a pair.

Me and my Rock Star Muse
All the cast and crew posed together on the red carpet for the media and paparazzi;one photo included here is by Getty Images, a worldwide syndicate, then  we shot one individually with Rick. You will note there are no big toothy grins from me in any of the photos because-much to my horror-a week earlier I broke a dental implant-right in the front of my mouth. Timing could have not been worse, and it couldn't be fixed in time for the trip.( Just to let you know I wasn't  trying to be a coy or demure Southern lady.) Thank the gods Rick has a million watt smile and everyone was focused on him, so I'm pretty sure nobody noticed me being snagged-toothed. Doesn't matter anyway. Most of the photos taken on the red carpet have me snugged up next to my Rock Star Muse, who has his arm around me. Yes, I am bragging.

I have to say that I am impressed with the film because of it's depth.It's not just a fan film. It's not just a music documentary. It's an intimate view into the lives of seven very different people connected by the common denominator of the music of one individual. There are funny moments, silly moments, and sad moments. All threaded together with concert footage and a very succinctly mastered soundtrack by Rick Springfield himself in his own studio. The film is intense from opening to the very last notes. Credit goes to the compassionate direction of Sylvia Caminer, but equal kudos to  David Dean, who did an incredible job of editing over 500 hours of footage into the 97 minutes traditionally allowable for documentaries. (David warmly welcomed me as I got out of the car and introduced himself as a fellow UU, then walked me to the area where I would be photographed.Can I tell you how much I hate seeing myself in photographs? I never look the way I think I should and am often at a loss of what to do to look natural.)

Talking with Rick after the photo shoot
Like many teenage girls, one of my favorite  fantasies was standing on the red carpet on the arm of  my Rock Star Muse. I think it's a dream all of us have growing up: feeling special, being admired, just to prove our self-worth because we are geeky, funny-looking kids. And I have to admit that I am, in my secret heart of hearts, thrilled to have done that now-even if it is 35 years later, I am 50 lbs. heavier, and had to hobble across the red carpet on feet swollen from flying coast to coast, to stand next to my 16 Magazine poster boy who's now old enough to get the senior discount at Denny's. The moment, as they say, was priceless.

After the film, the cast and crew took part in a Q & A with one of MTV's original VJs, Martha Quinn. Pretty neat stuff. When I was a part time production assistant (many years ago), I used to work on things like this and it's not only different but unnerving to be on the other side of the microphone. Like I said, I'm not a celebrity. I don't enjoy the attention and will do almost anything to be out of the spotlight. you can probably appreciate how squirmy I felt standing in front of a room full of people and answering questions about myself. I suddenly felt stupid and inept and had no idea what to talk about. It's nothing like standing in the pulpit delivering a sermon, when the subject isn't you.

Rick's custom '63 Corvette Stingray
When the Q & A was over, I was checking for the direction of the exit, when I became aware of a large shadow and a presence directly in front of me. It was Rick. And before I could say anything, he was swooping me up into his arms and planting a big wet kiss on my cheek, "You are awesome and beautiful!" he said, eyes shining... to which I'm certain I made an insipid reply. I honestly don't remember. I'm glad he let go of me before I started babbling incoherently, because all I could do within the space of the moment was lock onto those eyes, which are green, like a cat's. We actually proceeded to have a somewhat normal conversation from there, covering the film, his 92-year old mother's health, his rotator cuff surgery, what it's like to be a minister, clinical depression, that we both had to pee ( not kidding!) and some stuff I'm sure I've forgotten, followed by another squeeze. It was a  funny moment because both of us were pretty freaking delirious at that point.

The evening ended with Rick doing a short acoustic set ( I haven't seen him in concert in nearly five years) and a sumptuous dessert reception with some of the most unusual and interesting chocolate creations I've ever seen. I wish I'd taken a picture of the table, it was all so pretty...and tasty. It was over much too soon before my friend Ally-who was acting as my handler- hustled us into the car  for the long drive across Malibu and the  canyon to go back to the hotel.

My big moment and Rock Star dream has come and gone. It was a 'pinch-me-I'm-dreaming' experience, and I have the pictures to last a lifetime ( including the one where I'm leaning on Rick's metallic ice blue custom '63 split-window Corvette Stingray, which incidentally, I blessed. I don't think Rick realized what I was doing, even though he was 10 feet away watching me. Score one for the Rev, ha ha. I admit to having the urge to lay across the hood, but I'm pretty certain Rick would have had a coronary if I'd climbed up on his car...or laughed himself to death. Either way, I resisted because I didn't want to be responsible for his demise. )

So what's next? Since this is an independent film, it will have to be entered into film festivals in the coming year; hopefully it will be picked up by a distributor for theatrical release, then on to cable TV, and then become available on DVD. I think it has real potential; not because I'm in it, but because I feel it's a testament to the human spirit. There is a lot about healing in the film, so I suspect it will have broader appeal than to just Rick's fan base.

(Here's the movie trailer, which doesn't do the movie justice.)

[Photo credits: Getty Images, Yellow Rick Road Productions, Michelle Tellier and Allyson Farnsworth.]

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