It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... in the end, more best than worst, but still not nearly as good as it could've been. So went the Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back premiere tonight.
I arrived at the Mann Bruin in Westwood a half-hour before the scheduled start (7:30), and all was on track for everything to go according to plan. I was supposed to meet up in the lobby with Brad Plevyak and Chris Alley, who run News Askew, Kevin Smith's official news site for View Askew projects and various activities; I was also supposed to meet up with Ming Chen, webmaster for Kevin's main View Askew Productions site. The plan was to help Brad and Chris out with the celebrity arrival spotting for coverage in News Askew. So I went to the will call table to pick up my tickets as I had been advised the day before by phone by a Miramax representative. And that's when the first bad sign came: when the publicist at the table retrieved my tickets, she told me I was one of the "select few"... whose seats were assigned to the overflow screen at a separate theatre, the Mann Westwood 4-Plex. So no entrance into the Bruin for me, leaving Brad and Chris hanging in the lobby. This struck me as highly unusual; while I have only actually attended a handful of premieres, I do know that the overflow theatre is supposed to the catch-all for anyone who arrived late--no one is supposed to be bumped there right off the bat. It all struck me as being incredibly wrong, and to make matters worse, a number of KROQ radio contest winners were lined up across the street... to fill up seats in the main theatre.
I didn't realize just how wrong this forced overflow seating was until I sat in the drab theatre with the bunch of understandably disappointed folk. As it turns out, one of my fellow bumpees was no none other than Brian Lynch, writer-director of View Askew's Big Helium Dog, webmaster of Angry Naked Pat, and a good friend of Kevin's. Now that struck me as horribly wrong--after all, I'm a nobody online film reviewer, but he has a close connection to cast and crew. However less-than-ideal context of the viewing was, there was nothing diminishing the enjoyment of the movie; it more than held up on a second viewing, and it was nice to see it all complete for the first time, with all the end credits and other bits and effects in place.
Little did I know the worst part of the evening was still to come, thanks to remarkably poor organization by Miramax or whomever it was the studio hired to arrange the event. I thought it would be smooth sailing to get into the party; after all, it took place on an enclosed parking lot around the corner from the Mann Westwood (and a straight shot from the Bruin). But when I got there, I found a really long line of people waiting to get in as well. As I was waiting in line with at least hundred others, I was able to spot and talk to a couple of people with VIP status making their way to the party (outside of the line, of course). First up, Brian O'Halloran, who as you should know reprises his Clerks role of Dante Hicks in this film. Brian and I have known each other online for a while (he even reads The Movie Report), and needless to say, it was great to actually meet him and his lovely girlfriend Diana Devlin (with whom I have also "spoken" online); they were even friendlier in person. Not too long after that I had my belated meeting with a passing-by Ming; our talk ended with the same words Brian said to me a few minutes earlier: "See you inside."
Little did I know just how long it would be before we would get inside: one whole hour passed in that line, and my watch read 11:00 when I finally passed by the security guards at the entrance, so I imagine I missed a few people who turned in oh-so-Hollywood cameos at the party. Nonetheless, I was still able to greet a number of noteworthy people. Along with more hellos with Brian Lynch, Brian O'Halloran (who had been talking with Will Ferrell), and Ming in the very crowded space came a run-in with Mark Hamill, who was every bit as hyper and outgoing as he was at the press junket in June (though this time, he didn't do the universal gesture for cunnilingus). Kevin and Jason Lee were found holding court in the much quieter and far less crowded area near the restrooms; once Kevin was done talking Miramax co-chief Harvey Weinstein and Jason with American Pie ensemble player Thomas Ian Nicholas, I got to pay my respects to the ever-approachable duo.
Other people spotted enjoying the In-N-Out Double-Double burgers, various snacks, drinks, and games of pool during the evening: Jason Mewes, talking to people in the entryway to that restroom area; Shannon Elizabeth and her fiancÚ Joe Reitman, at her assigned booth; Seann William Scott, kicking back with friends at his booth; Jennifer Schwalbach-Smith, entertaining a large group of guests at the booth she shared with Kevin; producer Scott Mosier, mingling around; Afroman, whose single "Because I Got High" plays over the end credits, sitting at a table; Jake Busey, playing pool; and Quentin Tarantino, doing his usual thing of trying to draw attention to himself.
After a couple more rounds in that maze of a room, it became clear that I'd seen all there was (left) to see, and I made my exit. In the end, while not on par with the more intimate affair thrown for Smith's Dogma back in 1999, it wasn't such a bad experience, but it could've--and should've--been better, and I still feel bad about letting down the News Askew guys (even if there was really nothing I could do about it)...
The World Premiere Invitation
ORIGINAL SCORE CD!
The Complete Junket Roundtable Transcripts
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: The World Premiere/© Michael Dequina