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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

Starstruck

I was poking peaches at the grocery store today when an arm brushed by me and a strangely familiar voice said, "Excuse me." I glanced up and came face to face with a celebrity!

What is it about celebrities that make us go ga-ga? And when I say "us" I mean most folks... Their reactions to famous people can range from giggly to starstruck, but very few of us act non-chalant when meeting up with an actor or singer or other face that we've seen on TV or in the movies.

Of course, I did not get all giggly. I went blank, as I usually do around people of fame. I turned and shuffled back to my wife and whispered in a conspiratorial tone, "Look. Over there. Don't stare. The guy in the green shirt. That's Dennis Franz."

"Who?" replied my wife, not having been raised on nearly as much primetime TV as I was.

"Dennis Franz," I said. "He was in one of my all-time favorite TV shows. Bay City Blues. 1983. Canceled after just a few episodes. A real shame, as I think the world needs more baseball dramas on TV."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," my wife insisted (she says this a lot to me). She squinted at Franz, then recognized him. "Oh, I've seen him on Jay Leno. Why on earth is he in a North Idaho grocery store?"

I reminded her that he has a home on the lake, and isn't it sweet that he's buying a cabernet for his mother to have with dinner tonight (I eavesdropped).

As we walked away to leave Franz and his wife to their shopping, I had to ask myself two things: First, as I asked above, why do famous people make us behave strangely? Maybe it's because we get so used to seeing them on a regular basis on TV and in movies that they almost seem like friends or family and when we see them in real-life our first instinct is to greet them in a familiar way, but then our brains are telling us "Hold up there, you're a stranger to them," and the internal tug-of-war manifests itself in goofy or odd behavior. Or maybe it's because we've come to think of actors on the screen as not real because of all the characters they've played and when we see them in real-life our mind cannot wrap itself around the conundrum of a fictional character breathing the same air as us.

I don't know what it is, but I do know that every celebrity I've ever met in person, from Ray Davies to Muhammad Ali, probably thought I was an idiot because of my stupid stare and stammering statements. So I've learned to just look from afar and not talk if I can help it.

Which leads me to the second question I asked myself as we walked away from the produce aisle, "I wonder when Bay City Blues is coming out on DVD?"

Oh man, I should've asked Franz!


7 Comments:

Anonymous brettdl said...

How funny, but how come you don't mention some of Franz more prominent TV roles?

As for running into stars, here's one of my stories: I was up at Robert Redford's restaurant in Sundance while using a phone to talk to Anne when we were still dating.

I nearly ran Robert Redford over. Now, I'm only 5'10" but Redford seemed "smaller." And boy, does he have freckles.

I quickly apologized and then told Anne what happened. Maybe that's why she married me?

6:08 AM  
Blogger toadman said...

I think it freaks us out because, you know, they're supposed to stay in that magic box that's in our house.

When I meet celebrity like you did, I'm usually quite up front about it, but respectful. I usually just say "oh hi! how are you?" Because, they know they are recognizable to a large segment of society. Then, just general chit chat for a second, depending on how my first line is recieved, then I leave them alone to do whatever it was they were doing. They have lives outside the magic box, although we sometimes don't believe it...

Good Morning Phil!

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Jared said...

We used to live in southern California, where celebrity sightings are slightly more likely than in St. Louis.

My parents were visiting, and wanted to see Rodeo Drive. So did Shaq, and my father raced for a few blocks trying to catch up with him. I was so embarrassed; he was with his family! My dad finally turned around, though.

We also saw Jay Leno at Universal City, doing his man-on-the-street interviews. I had no urge other than to heckle...which I managed to suppress.

The celebrities I'd like to meet just don't have high profiles. How often does Alton Brown shop at Tiffany's?

7:05 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

I have to admit, me and my whole high school band class turned and stared at Jesse L. Martin and Jerry Orbach when we walked by them in NYC while they were waiting to film a scene for Law & Order. Not exactly the best way to react but it beats the crying and screaming that some people do.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Brett,

I was also a big fan of Hill Street Blues, but Bay City Blues has taken on a mythical status in my mind because it was on so briefly and hasn't been seen in 23 years.

NYPD Blue... Never seen it!

The only other Franz role that really sticks out for me was his airport cop character in Diehard 2.

9:09 AM  
Blogger mommy on the verge said...

so cool. I loved Dennis Franz in NYPD Blue, during the early years when it was really good.
If I'm in LA and see a celebrity, I always have to take a good peek, but I try not to make it obvious. I know how they dress down there though so not to be recognized: always a nice sweatsuit, baseball cap, sunglasses, but their handbag usually give them away and for the guys..its the watch. Who says I'm a stalker?

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Digger said...

I had lunch with Ben Stein in Sandpoint during the summer of 2003. He came into Fritz's Frypan on the corner of 1st & Cedar and sat down at the lunch counter next to me. We got talking and by the time it was done he had bought me lunch. Guess I won some of Ben Stein's money! :-)

5:58 PM  

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