Paleyfest is a lot of things to a lot of people but easy and simple isn’t one of them. This year, I have tickets to a number of panels and so does Jack. For his first panel Jack tackled the Aaron Sorkin series The Newsroom.
Now, this is on series I debated about going to but I chose not to go. You can only do so much you know?
Jack had some really good luck with The Newsroom cast however! Check out his full recap after the jump!
Besides awards season, my favorite time of year is when Paleyfest comes around. Thanks to the Paley Center and generous donors, TV fans are provided with an intimate event allowing them to see an episode of their favorite show with cast/crew and even have an opportunity to meet them afterwards. Although Comic Con continues to spiral more out of control with their pop culture obsession, meeting your favorite celebrities (especially from hit TV shows) is becoming impossible and too much of a hassle there. Paleyfest perfectly captures the true essence of a fan event, not random passerbys wanting free promotions/autographs/pictures/posters.
Since 1984, Paleyfest has consistently gathered quality TV shows cast/crew to create memorable events. This year I originally planned on attending two (“The Newsroom” and “The Big Bang Theory”), but managed to snag a ticket for “Two Broke Girls” thanks to Goldstar (they still might have tickets available for several events at $10 or less). Every year Paleyfest becomes an epic odyssey, but a fun Beverly Hills adventure nonetheless. As I previously wrote about “ Community”, “Mad Men” and “New Girl”, the event attracts an assortment of fans ranging from diehards to casual fans hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars with around 2,000 complete strangers (1,800 to be more exact). Scattered throughout the auditorium are autograph collectors and even the dreaded D-word, dealers, which makes obtaining an autograph or even a picture more challenging. Since 2010 I have attended Paleyfest and boy during that time it has dramatically changed. For anyone who has attended recently, people are becoming stranger and are making it more difficult to attend.
On the second day, one of my favorite TV shows, “The Newsroom” participated in Paleyfest and they managed to round up all eight principle actors, creator/writer Aaron Sorkin and producer/director Alan Poul. Considering it’s one of my favorite shows I decided to go all out and ordered a cast 11×14, which turned out beautifully. Since Aaron Sorkin is my favorite writer of all time I brought tons of stuff from “A Few Good Men,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and “The West Wing” besides “Newsroom” material. In my mind, no matter who I met, if I didn’t get Sorkin’s autograph the event would be a bust. As the event drew closer I made an addendum to include Olivia Munn too (a picture with her would have been icing on the cake).
As Sunday approached, my anticipation was killing me and I honestly hoped for the best. Even though I brought stuff for every individual cast member I remained realistic and suspected maybe only half the cast would sign. For those who have never attended, there is no consistency with cast members so be prepared for anything. For example, the entire cast of “Community” took their time with everyone until they were kicked out by Security and their publicists each year I attended) while “Curb Your Enthusiasm” mostly left because of the “rabid fans,” but they were really aggressive dealers.
5:20- I parked my car close to the Saban Theatre and only paid $10, not too shabby for Beverly Hills. As I left the parking garage I noticed several dealers hanging around the back exit/entrance where talent is supposed to park. It appears to be the usual suspects and for the first time ever I spot the infamous, Red Bull. I just think to myself, “Please don’t be aggressive otherwise it will really ruin it for all the paying fans.”
5:30- I pick up my Paley Center membership and get in line. Like last year, Paley members are allowed early entrance, but are now provided complimentary drinks/food if we visit one of the lounges-sweet. While I’m writing some notes an old lady behind me starts discussing the weather and I stop writing. For awhile we tried to maintain a cohesive conversation, but after she kept cutting me off I just stopped responding and went back to writing.
6:00- Paley members are slowly let inside to avoid the windy weather and I grab a decent seat for the Rear Orchestra. For the next 50 minutes I continue composing various notes and get ready for the start. I decide to avoid the member’s lounge and continue writing. Glad I had a big meal before heading out.
6:50- The Paleyfest intro is played showing clips of the shows participating this year before a specially selected clip of “Sports Night” is played before our event.
6:55- A Paley employee introduces Piers Morgan, who is moderating tonight’s event, and spends a few moments describing his love for “The Newsroom.”
About 7:00, Aaron Sorkin is brought out and informs the audience they’re going to play the first 10 minutes of the Season 2 premiere and answer questions for the next 90 minutes afterwards.
About 7:10ish, the clip ends and WOW I’m loving what’s happening this season. Unlike some people (cough…Mike… cough) I won’t reveal any spoilers except this next season takes place a few weeks after the first season. Beyond that you will need to tune in to see what’s happening next.
Shortly thereafter, the cast is introduced beginning with Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Thomas Sadoski, Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr., Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer, Jeff Daniels (who does a curtsey), Alan Poul and Aaron Sorkin. Some of the highlights during the Q&A include:
-Sadoski’s really appreciates Waterston and considers him a great role model.
-According to Pill, working for Woody Allen and Aaron Sorkin is like comparing apples and oranges when asked whose the better writer.
-Jeff Daniels recited his infamous “America is great” speech backwards (from the pilot episode) to prove Aaron Sorkin he memorized it and didn’t need cue cards despite numerous dates, facts and data stated within it.
-Upon learning Sorkin was told by producer Scott Rudin he was a “nice and friendly guy,” Jeff Daniels arrived for their meeting and decided to act the exact opposite to throw him off guard.
-Considering all the sensitive news relating to gun control and all the horrible tragedies over the past year, Sorkin is carefully evaluating how to include the sensitive news without exploiting the tragedies.
-Olivia Munn dislikes news anchors who care more about becoming a celebrity and covering red carpet events, than the real news. She gave the example of a recent CNN anchor (Don Lemon) tweeted about meeting Mike’s favorite actor (if you’re a loyal reader you should know this…okay, it’s Jonah Hill) and suddenly “their meeting” became a news story, which is ridiculous in her eyes (and something I agree about).
-A few fans ask, “Is America the greatest country?” (referencing the now famous question from the first season), which elicited applause and a standing ovation from the cast because they held up signs.
About 8:45 the panel ends and people rush the stage. Almost immediately Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterston take off. Aaron Sorkin decides to reach the far end first and Emily Mortimer is standing in front of me.
I manage to get both the 11×14 and my DVD cover of “Our Idiot Brother.” She is practically signing everything put in front of her, but things are coming from every imaginable angle. I’m surprised she isn’t refusing to sign, especially since Thomas Sadoski and Olivia Munn are practically on top of her.
Olivia Munn starts signing up a storm and actually gets on her knees. This gorgeous woman in a tight white dress is practically crawling along the stage to accommodate fans and I manage to get her on my 11×14 and Maxim magazine.
Thomas Sadoski is doing “one and dones” with people’s Sharpies and to be honest, it’s getting ridiculous. Instead of signing multiple autographs or asking to borrow the same pen, he is actually handing people their pen back (In hindsight, that’s pretty nice, but considering how many people are around just borrow it already).
Sorkin is getting closer and closer, but decides to take off and says, “I have to leave.” Everyone tries pleading, but he continues off. I firmly and politely hold up my DVD of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and ask, “Please Mr. Sorkin, could you sign my Studio 60 DVD.”
Sorkin literally stops in his tracks and points to me. He graciously grabs my DVD with a smile and starts laughing before handing it back. One other person manages an autograph and he takes off. Thanks to possessing a very unique item I managed to catch his attention and got what I wanted: an Aaron Sorkin autograph!
At this point I notice John Gallagher Jr. and Allison Pill taking off. I don’t know if they signed anything so I look around to see who is around. I decide to move down for Dev Patel, who initially seems reluctant to sign autographs, but eventually relents. I get him on my photo, but have trouble catching him with my “Slumdog Millionaire” DVD.
He finally grabs it, but now it’s only Munn, Sadoski and Patel signing. Everyone else is gone. I managed to have my Paleyfest program personalized by Olivia Munn and call it a night. Considering I was whacked a few too many times and had a few bruises on my face I decided to not attempt a photo with Munn, who graciously posed with almost everyone.
Honestly, Olivia Munn deserves to be in the autograph Hall of Fame. Until the next time, happy autograph hunting!
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