Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oprah and Mariah Live (A Weekend Name-Dropping Frenzy)

What kind of a blog host would I be if I didn't share my unusually star-packed weekend story with you? I'd already tweeted about it but there's only so much detail one can pack into 140 character clips with service interruptions.

Friday Morning
I was up at the crack of dawn for Oprah Fridays Live two days back as they were broadcasting from Central Park. One of my closest friend's best friend works on the show, thus the invite. It's not like Oprah Winfrey knows who I am. I knew Mariah Carey would appear as guest but otherwise I went in to the event blind. I feared leaving deaf, memories of Mariah's ear-shattering top notes vaguely worrying me. I've never understood the appeal of that girlwoman and her butterfly / charm bracelet /sweet sweet fantasy / glitter world (is she 12? seriously) but the excitement about attending a live televised event was plenty to get me going and mimicking fandom during the "applaud now" moments. I ended up four rows back on the left side of the stage, with a great view of the Great Machine-like proceedings. Let's just say that Oprah's show is exceedingly well oiled.

Turns out going to a live taping is a long process: arrived at 6:45 AM, queued up, waited, ushered into holding area at 7:45, waited, seated by 8:30, waited, waited, at 9:30 came the crowd warm-up which largely consisted of a very chipper woman barking jovial orders at us. The live broadcast began at 10 AM. The highlight of the pre-show was a song and dance performance from a pack of four guys ("Mariah's BIGGEST fans") from Missouri who had been flown in by fairy godmother Oprah to see their idol. If you saw Oprah on Friday, two of the boys were invited up on the stage during the actual show when Oprah dropped yet more fairy dust on them: they would be appearing in Mariah's next video (understandably, they went berserk) and Oprah would also be flying them to Vegas for a concert. The Big O doesn't fool around with the gift-giving once she's become aware of your existence.

The highlight for me?

The show had just begun and Oprah was relaying the wonders of New York City: Central Park, shopping, Broadway. Suddenly there's orgiastic crowd squeals to my left and my head spins to see DANIEL CRAIG and HUGH JACKMAN --or as Oprah would say "Huu-ooOOO-oo JahckmnN'!" Yes, her voice is just as affected in real life -- who are mere yards away from me. They were walking swiftly together towards the stage. It was a total mindfuck blur of starpower. I'm sure I swallowed flies my jaw was so loose. Only four or five women blocked my ability to leap at the dream duo. For that I thank and curse them.

Other guests on the show were Mayor Bloomberg, Nick Cannon (who seemed more like Mariah's hyper fan than her husband although that's kind of cool. Maybe he's as trapped in his tween years as Mariah herself?) and Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa. In the audience, receiving much love from the stage, were Lee Daniels (the writer/director of Precious), the author of Oprah's new book club selection "Say You're One Of Them" and Oprah's gal Gayle King.

Oscar watchers should note that during the show I experienced a film-experience-familiar horror as Oprah raved about Mariah's "glammed down performance" in Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire. Mariah, already campaigning for a supporting actress nomination, delusionally suggested that the makeup people were adding bags and dark circles under her eyes and even gave her a moustache. In no way shape or form does she look like that (!) was the gist of her self promotion. Methinks the woman has been famous too long.

Which is the realest Mariah?

I ask you with all sincerity, which is more real:
  • a 40 year old woman without glamour makeup under flourescent lighting or...
  • a woman surrounded 24/7 by a team of makeup artists, wardrobe personnel, key lights and photoshop airbrush expert whose job it is to make her look 18?
Though we were close to the stage we could barely see Mariah during commercial breaks as the makeup artists surrounded her completely for touchups each time. Despite my cynicism regarding the praise that's inevitably heaped upon every 'deglam' performance, I do think Mariah appears to be doing good work in Precious and she was surprisingly funny/charming on the show. That said, I needn't have worried about my ears. She was so heavily corseted that she was definitely having problems breathing and her voice came out a whispery falsetto. I'm sure it sounded better on television.

Mariah doing the foreigner hit "I Wanna Know What Love Is"

There's more to say but I could ramble for hours...

Once we were off air, Oprah thanked the crowd quite graciously before we filed out. Her final exit, waving to the crowd with her arm literally and awkwardly raised up behind her, never turning back around to look at us, made me laugh. It totally reminded of that choice revealing bit in Madonna's Truth or Dare where her childhood friend says "I love you Madonna" as they part. Madonna, slipping around the corner and out of the camera shot, never looks back. Her offscreen voice dismisses the woman with a rote "I love you, too."

The rich and famous have no time for you!

Friday Night
Attended the Lance Horne show at Joe's Pub. The singer/songwriter is well loved by the Broadway crowd and Cheyenne Jackson, comedienne Lea Delaria (beautiful jazz voice. Get her CDs) and Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), among several others, were on hand to sing his songs. Alan Cumming (left, with Lance) was on stage the most singing about his recent marriage to his boyfriend as well as doing a funny duet with Cheyenne about condoms. The singer/actor/writer/cologne salesman / Nightcrawler will add recording artist to his resume next week when his CD is released.

The semi-famous were all on stage, except for N'Syncer Lance Bass, who was just a member of the audience. He walked right by us, some new arm candy hanging about him, to take a seat at a reserved table.

Jonny Lee Miller and Sienna Miller (no relation) and their ex-lovers

Watched Sienna Miller (G.I. Joe) and Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting's "Sick Boy" and television's Eli Stone) perform After Miss Julie on Broadway. For what it's worth Sienna plays sexually charged unravelling sanity woman fairly well. Who knew?

But their celebrity kept getting in the way for me. During every slow moment in the Strindbergh inspired production (and there were a few... it's curiously paced) I kept thinking that Jude Law, Sienna's on again/off again ex, was performing Hamlet in a nearby theater and I wanted to be there. At one point in the climax of the production, Jonny's face was smeared with blood. I could only think of Angelina Jolie and how she used to write his name on her shirt in blood back in the mid-90s. Don't you miss crazy goth Angie?

<--- Finally, all I could think of was Jonny and Jude snogging and I began wondering if they're still close? Sometimes it seems like the famous are so inbred, everyone dating, befriending and otherwise smearing their DNA on everyone else who happens to be famous.

I'm paying for all of this excitement. Totally sick... again (I hate you, flu!) so I guess I'm staying in to watch the EMMYS.

How was your weekend? Which celebs were involved in your activities be it on tv, screen or live?



Arkaan said...

Marber play curiously paced? Interesting - cause I think he's brilliant at pacing (witness the fierce adaptation of Notes on a Scandal).


well i could definitely tell what he was going for (really really slow beginning to get you feeling like the characters: bored, trapped, eager for something to happen) but i think he took it a bit far. For instance there was a long passage where there was just one actor on stage, no dialogue, cooking, smoking and staring out the door hoping some other characters would enter.

and that moment wasn't the only one like it.

Dame James said...

Deglam or not, my goal this Oscar season is to see Ms. Mariah with an Oscar nom for Precious if only for the great "f- you" factor to all the haters from back in the days of Glitter. I've loved Mariah my entire life it seems and nothing makes me happier than seeing her claw her way back to the top after her public meltdown.

luisa said...

"Finally, all I could think of was Jonny and Jude snogging and I began wondering if they're still close?"

Apparently, they still are! Just the other day I saw pictures of them going for a walk together on some celebrity gossip site. I'll post a link for you in a minute...

J.L said...

Sienna Miller is a very underrated actress. She did wonders in Factory Girl, The Edge of Love and Interview.

luisa said...

There you go:

Anonymous said...

I love Mariah Carey but I find it very funny when you said she was being touched up on when you're off air xD. The woman/diva goes to great lengths to keep herself beautiful. And as for her appeal, I love her cause she can sing, sometimes too much, but still amazes me with vocal acrobatics :). And also, I don't know what planet you live on Dame James but as much as I love Mariah Carey Monique and Gabby Sidibe completely owns that movie so I don't think she's going to get nominated. Also, she's going to be busy or hopefully be busy promoting her album. Then again I might be wrong since Penelope Milford was nominated for Coming Home I think and that one had Jane Fonda so...crossing fingers. :)

Dame James said...

Anon: I haven't seen Precious, but can't a Dame dream?

TALKING MOVIEzzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NicksFlickPicks said...

@DJH: I'm not too hopeful about that nomination, but I'm already enjoying just barely pretending not to gloat about so many folks being surprised that Mariah is indeed as talented as she is, not to mention "surprisingly funny/charming" (ahem!). 'Tis a sweet season for those of us who were always there, even during Charmbracelet. Keep killing it, Mimi!

And since Nathaniel knows I love him and Mariah, he knows I'm already feeling bemused about the high snark re: Mariah's PR script and makeup team, given his complete and avowed addiction to Hollywood glam, 30s and 40s and 50s actresses, and certain mega-talented icons of today whose reckless Botoxing and outlandish over-yoga'ing we are kindly requested to keep mum about on this site. Far be it from me to breathe a word, esp. when I'm a guest in someone else's house! I wouldn't dream. I'm just eating my finger sandwich in the corner, listening and observing. ;)

Esther said...

Wow, great report! What a star-studded weekend. Sadly, there were no celebs in my weekend, although I did watch Oprah. All I can say is, when I see A Steady Rain next month, I expect to be staring dreamily at Hugh Jackman for 90 minutes and hope we make eye contact.

A couple of years ago I went to a Late Show with David Letterman taping and they do make sure you're whipped up into a frenzy by the time you enter the Ed Sullivan Theater.

jamie said...

I've always thought that Jude Law and Johnny Lee Miller were lovers at some point, based on photos they look very close, but it might be cultural, English lads have less hang-ups when it comes to male affection than us Americal males, yet it wouldn't surprise me if they were fuck buddies


Nick, touché. I do love the decidedly unreal high glam.

how's that finger sandwich? cucumber?

NicksFlickPicks said...

Yes, thank you, but it's so much better with this daiquiri. You really are a great host! Love what you've done with the place.

NicksFlickPicks said...

(I should add, to the rest of you ladies, that N was chivalrous enough to invite me to join him on this excursion. His heart is as big as they sky, that one, and if I had been anywhere near Eastern Standard Time, there's nowhere else I would have spent the day. He may not love Mariah, but he'll gladly enable.)


hey... i also forgot to mention that our favorite bit was that the wardrobe people kept hiking up the top of Mariah's scoop neck unitard and as soon as they would leave Mariah would yank it back down.


sheryl said...

Yep, Jude and Jonny are still close. Jonny attended Jude's Hamlet premiere in London back in the summer, they went to a Wimbledon match together, and just the other day they were strolling around the West Village with Ben Jackson and Jonny's baby boy, Buster. Pictures of each of these Jude/Jonny moments have circulated through the net, on Just Jared, etc. Jude and Jonny were also in Vegas year before last for Jude's birthday and the big boxing match (can't remember who it was).
Are you not seeing Hamlet???? I'll be there in October.

Glenn Dunks said...

That sounds awesome. I don't like her version of "I Wanna Know What Love Is" (i don't like the original, either) but I do really like her. And, well, Hugh/Daniel. Yum.