I got that call from a girl I hadn’t heard from in years. It’s that call we all dread. No, no...not that type of call! It’s someone that asked me if I could meet her downtown for the first day of Comic Con, to help her get Conan O’Brien’s autograph. He was going to be filming some shows down there, and she remembered a few years earlier when we attended the filming of the show and tried (unsuccessfully) to get his signature afterwards.
I hadn’t planned on doing the Comic Con thing. Anybody that’s ever been, or lives in San Diego, knows what a chaotic scene it is. But she told me the list of guests that were going to be on the show. I figured with a list like that, it would be worth trying to score a few signatures.
I only brought two things. A picture I had with me and Conan from a promotional event he did years ago, and the DVD cover of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” since one of the guests was Noomi Rapace (who got an Oscar nomination for her lead role in that).
My wife decided to make the journey with me. Now over the years, I’ve always hated women going with me. They always get bored and I feel guilty making them wait around, or having them ask security guards for info. But she was being a trooper (or stormtrooper, if you’re a Comic Con nerd reading this).
On the way there, my friend texted me, “There is a really big crowd here.”
She was right. They had it gated off, with lots of security and police officers, and there were over 100 people around the area.
The cast of the new movie “Bright” were the first to show up. The crowd went nuts when Will Smith got out of the limo bus. He did the same thing I saw him do when I went to the David Letterman show and he signed autographs. He walked down the aisle signing for people, but kept moving. I’d say he signed about 20 items in total. What was frustrating is the autograph dealers that were camped in the front row. One guy held up boxing gloves that he signed (remember, Smith played Ali). Other people had posters from “I Am Legend,” “Independence Day” and other films. When fans would yell stuff out like “Hey Fresh Prince,” he’d respond with a laugh, or he’d say a catch-phrase from that character. He smiles, laughs, and makes small talk so effortlessly that, even though most of the crowd didn’t come away with signatures, they appreciate the fact that he was genial and made the attempt.
I didn’t have anything for Joel Edgerton to sign, but really wanted to meet him. He and his brother did this movie called “The Square” that I think is one of the best movies ever made. He signed about 10 autographs going in, merely saying, “Sorry, I’m running late. I got to get inside.”
After almost two hours of waiting, we had nothing to show for it. So, we walked around the corner to have dinner and feed the parking meter some quarters.
An hour later we returned. My friend said the filming of the Conan show was almost over, and that she’s heard he usually signs for everybody, but it’s about 45 minutes after the taping ends.
I had to do some movie reviews over the phone for a station in San Francisco (KGO 810 AM if anybody wants to listen). I could hear the crowd going nuts while I was on the phone. It was for the cast of “Supernatural.” Jensen Ackles came out and signed autographs and took selfies with the crowd, but it was star Jared Padalecki that stole the show. He went over to almost everyone that had something for him to sign, and really made an effort to lean over the rails to take selfies with fans. Across the street there was another group of about 50 people. About five of the girls had birthday hats on and started singing “Happy Birthday” to him (it was his birthday). He ran over there, and took a photo with each one, and thanked them for doing that. About 10 minutes later, my wife went over to talk to them. Two of them were crying they were so happy about the experience. One of them said that he saw the hats they were wearing from inside, and he really wanted to make sure he went over to thank them.
My wife was laughing and said to me, “It’s nice that he did that for them. They’re so happy, but...I think they also need to get a life.”
Yep. My wife is seeing the side of an autograph seeker or hardcore fan. It’s not a pretty sight.
So after the cast of “Supernatural” got into their limo bus, the cast of the film “Bright” came out. Will Smith again signed for some people at the railing. I was far back and didn’t have anything for him. This time, he didn’t sign as many. When Edgerton came out, I worked my way to the front of the railing. I had nothing for him to sign but an index card. I wanted to tell him about my love of “The Square”. Instead, a guy next to me said, “I’m in an interracial relationship, and I loved your performance in ‘Loving’.” He stopped signing for a second, looked at that guy, and said “Thank you.” Unfortunately, it didn’t bring him closer to us. A woman next to me said, “If you really want to get him, you probably shouldn’t stand here. He’s getting closer and closer to that limo bus.”
She was right! It was a rookie mistake I was making. So, I ran around to the front of the bus, outside the barriers. Security told me to go back around. More of those autograph dealers that had multiple photos from his movies (The Great Gatsby, The Gift, etc), were getting those things signed, so I missed out. My wife, bless her heart, tried helping out by yelling, “We loved you in ‘The Square’!”
Lucy Fry came out, and quickly ran to the bus without signing. She looked a bit frazzled, but then she came back, signed a few autographs, took a few photos, and quickly ran back to the bus again.
Noomi Rapace came out and I tried forcing my way to the front again. The only thing I had for anybody was that DVD. I immediately saw the autograph dealers had their Prometheus posters. She was wearing a stunning dress, and she seemed to be signing a lot of signatures, but I wasn’t one of the lucky ones.
After this frustration, I decided we’d go. I didn’t want to wait another 45 minutes or an hour for Conan, especially with the luck I was having. Also, EVERYONE that left the taping of the show, was given a bobble-head doll of Conan as Spider-man. They all wanted those autographed, and that added another 100 people to the folks waiting around.
My wife got a little peeved that an employee was coming outside and giving all the left over food they had from the show, to various people standing around waiting for autographs. She said, "There are homeless people all over this area. Why don't they try to find those people to give the food to?"
I love her altruistic intentions, but I want to focus on autographs.
As we were walking to the car, we saw that a professional wrestler was doing an autograph signing. The line for it was long, and it was somebody we had never heard of -- Sami Zayn. I talked to a few guys who had met him, and we took a photo of their autographed photo.
Just my luck.
And it’s going to be painful watching the episode tonight, seeing all the celebrities I missed.