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.
Seriously. That is the question I asked my staff this morning. Am I interviewing Diane Keaton? And the answer was, “I think so.” Diane Keaton will be at the Paramount on November 6 and I wasn’t clear on exactly what all would be happening that night. I know she is giving a talk and evidently then she is going to sit down and chat with me. Does anyone out there have a question they want me to ask?
How exactly I got this job is beyond me…
I remember as a kid watching Lily Tomlin on Laugh In and never in my life did I think I would interview her one day. One of my favorite movies is Terms of Endearment and now I watch the movie and pinch myself that I got to spend the evening with Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger. And here we go again. Diane Keaton. I’m going to be hanging with Annie Hall. Kay Corleone. Wow.
I am really looking forward to talking with Diane about her interest in restoring historic buildings. It will be great to show her our beautiful Paramount and talk to her about the restoration projects currently underway. Speaking of which, if you would like to help ongoing restoration projects, you can “Take Action” by going to our website at www.austintheatre.org .
It will also be fun to talk to Diane about Katharine Hepburn , one of the women who inspired her. Hepburn played the Paramount in 1941 – 5 years before Diane was born. Oops. Did I go too far?
Over the past couple of years, I have gotten to know Lily Tomlin at least a little bit and what strikes me as so unusual about her is that she is so real. What I mean by that is that she is seemingly unaffected by her decades of stardom. As far as I am concerned she is right up there with the great ones: Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Steve Martin, Bill Cosby… And yet when you meet her, it’s like running into an old friend. She has my phone number and has called me a few times. The first couple of times it happened I could barely calm down long enough to answer. But now it’s like my next door neighbor calling to ask for a cup of sugar.
It’s not like other celebrities are mean or otherwise unapproachable, it’s just that Lily has managed to turn just being Lily into international stardom. As I watched her perform to a full house Saturday night at the Paramount, I thought how amazing that she is just up there being Lily… being real. And the audience can’t get enough. She has no reason to remember me between visits to Austin, but somehow she does – remembering my daughter’s name and age and what I was doing the last time we spoke. I would let it go to my head except that I have discovered rather than me being anything special, the one being special is Lily.
Her show being sold out also makes me want to mention what else was going on around town that same night: KUT’s Gala, Bill Cosby at UTPAC, Judy Collins at One World, and the Symphony at the Long Center. People always ask me if the UTPAC and the Long Center will put the Paramount out of business. I guess we have the answer…
On a personal note, Saturday night was made all the more special by having two of my favorite women in the house: Jody Conradt and Gail Goestenkors. I am a big fan of Women’s College Basketball and to have two of the games greatest coaches in my theatre on one night was thrilling. I’ve met Jody before and just adore her. I met Gail for the first time and will now have to fight the urge to become a stalker. Also in the house was former Florida Gator Head Coach Carol Ross. I had to admit to Carol that I was a Gerogia fan and probably yelled terible things at her from across the arena in past years. Now that I’ve met her, I realize my mistake. I hope she can forgive me. I hope to see them all again soon…
Do you sometimes come to the theatre by yourself? Any chance you are coming alone this Saturday for Lily Tomlin? I know of at least one other subscriber who is planning to have dinner at our sponsor restaurant, Gumbo’s, and then come to the show solo. Why not join them? If you are intersted, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you together on line. No strings attached…
For those of you who know me, loving something more than Cher is a huge step for me. Huge. But tonight I fell hook, line and sinker for k.d. lang. Easily the most beautiful and pure voice ever to play the Paramount stage. Wow. Wow. Wow. I sat in the theatre and cried like a big baby when she sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Earlier that day, I knew something great was about to happen when I listened in on her sound check. I don’t know if she just took the extra time to get the audio equipment down perfect or if she has a voice so perfect that she can overcome any audio equipment… I just know that if was perfect and I am a fan for life.
After sound check she gave a quick interview to the afterellen.com blog.
The house was sold-out – every seat filled with subscribers. Only a few single tickets actually went on sale to the general public due to subscriber demand for our Leading Ladies Series featuring kd lang, Lily Tomlin and Dr. Maya Angelou.
Well, I have to admit that I have not been a very good blogger recently. So many great shows came in the last couple of months and I was just too busy to write about them. As an apology, I am going to try and mention a few now.
Melissa Etheridge was a blow out. I bet you never get to see her in a venue this size again. Backstage, as they were loading in the show, Melissa was overheard saying it’s like trying to fit an elephant into a shoe box. She had a chef on site who fixed meals for the artists and crew. It smelled incredible. For the most part Melissa kept to herself and didn’t interact with anyone. Her show was three hours non-stop rock and it did…
David Byrne rode his bike from the hotel to the theatre. Backstage everything that could be done to make a production green was done. The show was easily one of the best ever to hit our stage. 4 encores with standing O’s. After the show, David hung out with a few locals at the Driskoll bar.
Not on our stage, but at the Hilton, I got the chance to have a conversation with Lily Tomlin in front of 900 people. The picture above is better than anything I could say here. I love her. Really.
Next up – Turk Pipkin and Kinky Friedman on October 10.
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…