Stan and Cathy go to Hollywood

Deep Impact logo

One day, I was looking at the Los Angeles Astronomical Society's web page. I was just testing the link off of my page to make sure that I hadn't made a typo in it, but I noticed that they were looking for members to bring telescopes to the premiere party for "Deep Impact" on April 30th at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. Needless to say, I thought this sounded like something that could be very amusing, so I emailed Tim Thompson, the president of LAAS, and volunteered. After an email exchange, it finally turned out that I didn't have to bring my telescope, but we could have tickets to the premiere and party, so we got in the car and headed over to Hollywood.

Ticket to the premiere

It took us a couple of tries to find the proper gate to the studio, but we finally got in and parked, we got our tickets from Tim, and took up a place by the requisite velvet ropes in front of the gate. There, limousines were pulling up and coughing up loads of celebrities like so many hairballs on the deep blue carpet. The only ones we recognized at that point were Gates McFadden Gates "Dr. Crusher" McFadden, and Marina "Counselor Troi" Sirtis, who we recognized from "Star Trek: The Next Generation". I suppose that means we're nerds. All of the stars of the movie were there, and the photographers were going nuts over one particular young woman who we later realized was LeeLee Sobieski LeeLee Sobieski, who plays the girlfriend of the young man who discovered the comet in the movie. We also saw one rather attractive, punkish-looking woman who I later learned was Alex
	Kingston Alex Kingston, who is one of the stars of "ER". Since we don't watch much TV we didn't recognize her, but apparently she is a pretty big star. The star of the movie, Tea Leoni was apparently there, with her even more famous husband, David Duchovny Tea and David
	Duchovny, but they must have arrived fashionably late, as we missed them completely.

By now, it was nearly time to go to the screening room for the movie, so we headed over there, passing by Patrick "Captain Picard" Stewart and his date, who arrived by the back way.

The screening room was one of two on the studio grounds being used for this premiere. We were (naturally) in the B-list room. Still, as the movie ran, I recognized several people in the auditorium in it. They were mostly people with small parts. Overall, I thought that the movie was actually pretty good. A number of amateur astronomers I know have nit-picked it over a number of points of factual accuracy, but I think that they did a pretty good job. There is a good write-up about this on the Planetary Society's website.

After the movie ended, we headed back out to the lawn where the party was starting. The LAAS and Sidewalk Astronomers had several telescopes set up for people to look through, but the marine layer had settled in, and the sky was completely clouded over. There were radiant heaters set up all over the patio, waiters wandering around with drinks and appetizers, and the caterers had tables with food set up on the lawn. The bite-sized lobster quesadillas were very nice, and there were a couple of other things we sampled that were very good, although I still have no idea what they were. As we had had dinner before coming over, we headed straight for the dessert table. And it was a killer dessert table. Yow. The chocolate mousse cake was great. There were also several bar tables set up around the grounds, complete with special theme drinks with names like "The Asteroid". Yum.

The producers and stars of the movie all had their own tables where they held court and schmoozed. I kind of wanted to talk to Morgan Freeman, but I was a bit shy about it, since we are not in the business. I wanted to tell him that I thought that his portrayal of the President was very good. In fact, it was so good that I thought he should consider running for the real office when he retires from acting. After all, it worked for Ronald Reagan, and I thought that Freeman's movie President was better than Reagan's real President. During this time, we spotted one more actor we recognized from "Star Trek". This time, it was Levar "Geordi LaForge" Burton, who we were only able to recognize from having seen him on "Reading Rainbow" on PBS. He looks rather different without the visor.

Meade Instruments was there, too. They were showing off two of their new telescopes, but not many people were stopping by to check them out. Go figure. In any event, the party started to wind down about midnight, which was well past our bedtime for a weekday, so we headed home to the staid confines of Pasadena, having thoroughly enjoyed our brush with Hollywood glitz. It was a completely different experience from when we actually lived in Hollywood. There were no hookers, no blaring alarms, and our car didn't get stolen, so it was a really fun experience. And we're trying to figure out how we can get to go to another of these parties.

May 14, 1998

copyright © 1998 by Stan Schwarz