OK, the ‘wild’ part may be stretching it a bit, but I had one of the best weekends in recent months and have to share my adventures with you all! Those of you who have been around awhile know two things about me: I love Matthew Macfadyen and am a regular poster at the fabulous Topix forum, and, I adore the amazing friendships I have established through my writing venture. This weekend the two collided in a terrific way.
Kathy in SF, the intrepid administrator of the Matthew Macfadyen Topix forum, has become a dear friend over time. Months ago she discovered through her array of contacts that Frost/Nixon was to have a private screening in Hollywood on Nov. 21. The official premieres were to take place first in both London and New York, this event minor in comparison, but an important part of movie marketing as the press and other important film critics get to see the movie before it is released to the general public. I’ll talk more about the screening in a moment, but Kathy invited me to attend and we ended up turning it into a whole weekend of Matthew-fun in sunny Southern California! Another longtime friend, a fan of Matthew and of my novels – May – came all the way over from Scotland to visit for a week and to attend the screening. Double fun!!
Kathy booked us at the Beverly Hilton, a gorgeous resort hotel in the heart of movie-star-land just two blocks from Rodeo Drive. The hotel was fabulous, 4-star quality all the way, but the best part was the history. Generally-speaking, the Beverly Hilton is renowned for hosting the Golden Globes in its International Ballroom, the historic Trader Vic’s lounge, for being the residence of owner Merv Griffin, and for accommodating hundreds of politicians, movie stars, and other dignitaries since 1955.
More relevant to us, it was the actual place where the ‘crack team of investigators’ for David Frost, as well as Frost himself, spent nearly two months living while they prepared for the famous interviews. Additionally, quite a number of scenes from the movie were shot in the hotel. One was in the restaurant Circa 55 (below) with the pool area in the background. Naturally, we had great fun noting each scene and then getting pictures of all the places Matthew stood! LOL!
We met on Thursday, arriving at our wonderful destination in the late afternoon. For dinner we met up with Anna, another crazy MM fan and Topix-gal who lives in the area, at a trendy restaurant in Venice Beach. Hal’s Bar and Grill is famous in the area as a jazz club, art house, and fine-dining experience. It was delicious but very loud. We were literally the only patrons over 30! We ended that night watching episode 7 & 8 of Little Dorrit on my trusty computer, which always travels with me! In this case, I felt it was requisite so we could enjoy the revolving photos of Matthew that comprise my screensaver. Yeah, Baby!
Friday dawned sunny and warm as So Cal is famous for. We took our time, this being a relatively leisure day in preparation for the fun to come that night. We drove to the Santa Monica Pier, walked around in the lovely Pacific Coastal beach area, and took lots of pictures while talking and laughing together. So much fun! To the right is the sign for Muscle Beach made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Below are photos from the beach. Lunch was at Trader Vic’s – excellent clam chowder – sitting at the very table nearest the bar in the photo above, and then it was time to gussy up for the screening!
Here is the scoop on the screening (I will review the movie itself in a separate entry): Originally the screening was slated to be held at the PaleyCenter for Media with Ron Howard, Peter Morgan (the play/screenwriter), and ‘cast members’ scheduled to appear for a Q&A session after the movie. Never did we expect Matthew to show up! Yes, it would have been utterly amazing, but knowing how he hates being in the spotlight and avoids all interviews like the plague, it was never seriously anticipated. We felt a glimmer of hope when he did fly over for the NY premiere, a last-minute decision that took his fans by surprise. Naturally, we allowed our hearts to dream ever-so-slightly that he may hop on the plane with Ron and Peter! Kathy printed off photos to be signed ‘just in case’ but I’ll let you know right now that it did not happen. I am sure you all would have heard the screams already! Ha!!
The screening ended up being transferred from the Paley Center to the Arclight Theatre in Hollywood. We are not 100% sure why the switch, except that the cinema complex, built in 1963, played a small part in Frost/Nixon history. David Frost was part-producer of the wonderful Richard Chamberlain Cinderella-inspired movie The Slipper and the Rose, which premiered at the Arclight during the time of the Nixon interviews. Aside from that bit of minutia, the theater is much larger and a popular location for movie screenings.
We were joined by Anna and two friends of hers who were curious about this guy Matthew as well as the movie; and who would willingly pass up a chance to meet Ron Howard? So it was a fun group set to enjoy to the fullest. The popcorn and soda were free, the theater cordoned off, ushers everywhere, and we sat in the second row on the floor just feet away from Ron and Peter. Right away we knew our prayers were dashed as there were only 3 chairs on the raised dais. In fact, no ‘cast members’ showed up at all. But it was only a momentary disappointment as gaiety ruled among us and the movie started right on time (no previews).
We managed to control the bulk of our squealing teenage tendencies, but it was tough! Matthew appeared in almost the first shot and loomed larger than life through the whole thing. That voice captured every scene it was heard in, IMHO!! There was a fair amount of nudging and whispering, I’ll be honest, and it was tremendous fun. As soon as the applause ended after the credits rolled, Ron Howard and Peter Morgan were announced. The Q&A session lasted about 45 minutes and was very interesting. I have been a cinephile all my life, one who really enjoys learning about the movie-making process, so this was fascinating to me. Plus, I will confess to getting a bit caught up with the reality that Richie Cunningham, Oscar-winning director of A Beautiful Mind, and creator of many of my favorite movies was ten feet away in the flesh!! I told you all I am a geek, as evidenced by the autograph I got on my ticket!! HaHa!! And certainly not to diminish the superb Peter Morgan, screenwriter for The Queen and Last King of Scotland, who it was also astounding to be in the presence of. Unfortunately, none of the photos I took came out. *sob* We were not allowed to use flash, so it did not work so well. Bummer.
Saturday was the play-tourist day! We went to the Farmer’s Market and The Grove shopping area in Beverly Hills, killing several hours enjoying the Christmas decorations, incredible food, and marvelous shopping. The lovely May enjoyed her first American-style breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon! I went ethnic with a lox and cream cheese bagel!! Yummy stuff. May received her first glimpse of an Abercrombie and Fitch store with live specimens of the male-models they are known for standing at the door. Kathy and I really enjoyed the 2-story American Girl doll store – an absolutely magnificent place including a doll medical center and doll salon! What a kick!! Makes me wish my daughter still collected for her doll.
The afternoon was devoted to a bus tour of Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Hollywood. Our driver/tour guide was Dutch with a beautiful accent. He took us past the Playboy Mansion and the homes of Paul Newman, Liz Taylor, Rosemary Clooney, Michael Douglas, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Lopez, and dozens more. All fabulous, at least what we could see behind massive hedges and electric fences! The tour ended at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Walk of Fame (where the sidewalk stars are), and the Kodak Theatre (where the Oscars are held). All my years living in California and I have never been here! It was great fun, but our time was sadly limited.
For dinner, we once again met Anna in Malibu at the Chart House. Talk about scrumptious! The meal was incredible, the view overlooking the ocean stupendous, and the conversation highly entertaining. Any guesses what the main topic was? Hehehe…
Sunday marked the end of our holiday in La-La-Land. Leisurely we left the hotel – after buying a bunch of souvenirs and taking more photos – and leisurely we drove north on the Pacific Coast Highway. Us native Californians pointed out the unique history to our Scottish pal May, who noted that the coastline was very similar to Spain. How cool is that? Lunch was in Santa Barbara with Anna, with heartfelt adieus as we parted for the final time.
For me, the trip ended in San Luis Obispo where my husband met us. I had to have my moment of mushiness, you all know me, but May and Kathy seemed a bit choked up too! Meeting these lovely ladies was by far the highlight for me. Being able to immerse in all things Matthew with women who are utterly terrific was a joy. Strengthening our friendships is priceless. Yeah, I am beginning to sound like a Visa commercial, but I cannot help it!