Sometimes I get to meet an artist/entertainer backstage and am surprised at how very different they are from the “celebrity” on stage. Sometimes I am disappointed and other times I am not. Carol Burnett is very kind. kd lang is so shy. Cyndi Lauper is hilarious. Lily Tomlin is so genuine. Roberta Flack is kind of mean.
Tim Conway is Tim Conway.
Somehow he has managed to become famous just being himself. He is the class clown… the proverbial jokester. He just likes making people laugh and laughs at himself when he is successful in his attempts.
Example: He called us a few days before his show with a question about the microphone that was going to be used. We told him that our technical director would call him back to discuss.
“I’ll tell you what,” said Tim. “Why don’t you give me her number and I will call her. That way I can make sure I am available to talk to her.” And so we did. Later that day, Tim called our Technical Director, Mary Nelson.
“Mary. This is Tim Conway. How are you doing?”
“I’m doing well Mr. Conway,” Mary replied.
“Well good. I just called because I couldn’t go another moment without knowing how you were doing. Goodbye.” [click]
I have no idea if he was happy with his microphone. I imagine he was.
It’s hard to describe people’s reaction to Carol Burnett. It’s as if everyone thinks of her as the mother who was mistakenly separated from them at birth. She was in town so they called to let us know that now was finally their chance to reunite. So many people called and wrote with reasons for why they had to meet her if even for a brief moment.
She is clearly loved and adored… worshipped almost. But it was clear why she is held in such high esteem after meeting her and seeing her performance. In person, she is everything you want her to be. Kind. Gracious. Generous. Funny. And beautiful. I am usually just so nervous when I am backstage but after making my stage announcement there she was waiting in the wings to go on. I didn’t just say hello. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and like a kid with a crush I said, “You are just so wonderful.” She smiled. And she was.
I won’t put it in print here, but next time you see me at the theatre, ask me about the conversation between Carol and her old friend Cactus Pryor. I bet I could make a fortune selling the story to People Magazine. But I wouldn’t dare.
Here was her datebook at a glance. Thrusday: Arrive Austin late afternoon. Visit Paramount. Dinner at Perry’s where the portions were a bit too big. Friday: Rehearsal all day. Pictures with staff and crew. Dinner at Shoreline. Show at Paramount. Saturday: Relax. Dinner at Four Seasons. Show at Paramount. Sign our signature wall backstage. Sunday: Early flight to Fort Worth.
I have met her and now I can die.
Seeing Carol Burnett in a theatre the size of the Paramount is a rare opportunity. Typically she would perform at a larger performing arts center. So how did we get her to the Paramount? Well, when we heard she was going out on a small tour that included Fort Worth, we asked if she might be willing to come a day earlier and add a stop in Austin. The agent’s response was “Sure. Do you have a private jet?” A few calls to a few friends of the theatre later and we called back with a jet ready to bring her to Austin. I think the agent might have been a little surprised we pulled that one off. By the way, I’m not sure if it’s for Carol but someone ordered a cheddar cheese sandwich on wheat bread, dry and plain to be part of the jet’s catering service.
The show is almost sold out but you can sill get tickets here. I can’t wait to blog about what is what like to meet one of my favorite entertainers. Don’t miss this opportunity to see her in such an intimate setting – even more intimate than the CBS Television City Studio 33 where The Carol Burnett Show was taped years ago!
Speaking of The Carol Burnett Show… I remember watching that show every week as a child with my mother. Because I have 5 brothers, I asked my Mom recently why I only remember it being just the two of us watching. Evidently, Carol was the reason we got a second television set. My mom got tired of competing with my father and brothers who wanted to watch football. Now what does that say about me that I was watching the Carol Burnett show while all my brothers were watching football?
We’re getting ready for our annual gala this Saturday. Sold out!!! Kris Kristofferson on stage. Biggest, hottest live and silent auctions in our history. Can’t wait… until Sunday when I can sleep! In the meantime, check out our new season featuring Carol Burnett, kd lang, Maya Angelou, Lily Tomlin, David Sedaris, Mo Rocca, Ruben Studdard and more…
I was scared to death because I have heard so many rumors about her… difficult… wild…even mean. Well, the woman I met backstage was delightful and real. I might as well have been talking to my sister. She made me feel that at ease.
Sometimes you meet a celebrity and the dissappointment is such a let down. Considering one of my all-time favorite movies is Terms Of Endearment, I didn’t want to ruin the fantasy I had created about the actress who played Emma Greenway Horton. I am happy to report that having now met both Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger that movie remains in my list of top five.
Speaking of movies, we gave the audience the choice to watch An Officer and A Gentleman, Terms of Endearment or Urban Cowboy. Backstage, Debra laughed and teased me about picking such obvious choices. “Those are like TV wallpaper and everyone has probably seen them dozens of times.” To her credit many of her movies – even the lesser known ones – are true gems. However, the joy of seeing one of her classics on the big screen again was too hard to resist. The audience decided on Urban Cowboy.
Evan Smith was terrfic with his interview. I learned a great deal watching him. While I remain satisfied with my interview with Shirley MacLaine (first celebrity interview in my career), Evan’s preparedness reminded me that I can still do better next time. And speaking of next time… Carol Burnett? Lily Tomlin? Glenn Close? Hmmm…