A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I found it kind of funny that several folks were baffled by my Peter Pan post. Now that my DVD Talk article is up about my trip to London for the press junket surrounding the new Peter Pan DVD, it should all be clear. I am kind of paranoid about broadcasting when I travel, so I sometimes keep such things on the down low. Putting the picture up was a signal/good-bye to the people who knew, and then something I could call back to...now.

(This will just be the text post, photos will follow in a day or two.)

I left for England on Wednesday, arriving there on Thursday morning thanks to the time difference. While a good portion of my time on the three-day trip was scheduled by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, there was also a lot of free time for me to wander the streets of Piccadilly and marvel at how expensive everything was (particularly with the exchange rate, thanks to our current President and his flunkies messing up the world). I tried not to let that get me down, though, and wanted to take in a little culture. In fact, when I first got there, I just started walking from my hotel and within blocks, I was in the Green Park. I walked through the park and found on the other side was Buckingham Palace. Right when I got there, a marching band and a procession of soldiers/guards on horses were parading through the gates. From there, I took a walk around St. James Park. Amusingly, there was a sign by the lake that said, "Please Do Not Feed The Pelicans." I didn't see any pelicans, but I saw lots of other birds. I am not sure what makes the pelicans so special they need to be singled out. (For the Pan-specific stuff I did on my trip, you'll have to read the article; this post is only about the rest of my activities.)

I decided to go and see a stageplay the first night, but the fact that I fell asleep in the early evening meant I had to stick in the immediate area, or I wouldn't get to the theatre on time. I actually tried to go see Equus with Harry Potter showing his bum, but it had only opened two days prior and the theatre was a madhouse. Tickets were available, but they were 50 pounds, which is roughly $100 American, and the seats were bad, so I passed.

Instead, I hopped next door to see Jessica Lange in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. This was somewhat of a misstep only because of the timing. I was tired from travel, and so sitting down in a dark room proved difficult for me. Through the whole first act, I had to struggle to stay awake. The second act actually picks up anyway with the arrival of the gentleman caller. Lange was really good, as was the actress playing Laura, Amanda Hale. She had a great way of speaking, with the stops and stutters of an overly shy girl. Funnily enough, the male lead, Ed Stoppard, was the least effective, and the guy I thought I was going to hate, the gentleman caller, pulled it out. Mark Umbers entered the scene like he had just stepped out of a 1940s movie, playing an overly gregarious American go-getter, but as the drama progressed and grew quieter and more intimate, his facade dropped and revealed what a front it was.

Friday night was reserved for Marc Ellerby, who took the tube in from wherever it is he lives to enjoy some fine Oban scotch with me. We had actually never met face to face before, or even spoken without using our fingers (for typing, you pervert), but it was like we'd known each other forever. His voice was deeper than I expected, but I guess only I sound like I'm 12 (compare my adolescent serial killer voice to Joëlle's sexy adult tones on that podcast). I did like talking to his father on the phone, because he sounded like a typical English father from the movies.

Saturday was the day I had the most time, but I had a couple of missteps that caused me to do less than I would have hoped. The bulk of the day was the premiere. I didn't recognize most of the celebs, because they were Brits, but you could tell they were celebrities, they just looked different. Thandie Newton was there, and she was gorgeous, even dressed down and hanging with her kids. After, I went to Gosh! Comics, where I bought a Posy Simmonds collection, Literary Life. I had decided to walk rather than take the bus, and I ended up missing a turn and going a little out of my way. I tried to take the bus back, but the ticket machine took my 2 pound coin. Some old lady was staring at me while I grumbled at the machine. "Bloody American," she was probably thinking.

At Gosh, I also learned that geekery knows no borders. There was this dude hanging out that would not shut up. He went on and on about how Miyazaki was overrated. You've heard this kind of guy before, because he repeats everything as he says it. "You know, a lot of people like Miyazaki, but I think he's overrated. I know why they like him, but he's overrated. I mean, he's good, but he's overrated." He also bragged to some 12-year-old boys how he had spent a lot of money on the American DVDs of Dragonball GT, but he never finished watching it because he didn't like it. I am not even sure they were impressed that he was stupid enough to invest in imports of a show he didn't like. (I actually think calling things "overrated" is overrated. I think it's a shortcut to you claiming to be smarter than we all know you are.)

After that, it was a stop by Carnaby Street to look at the clothes, and a short breather before heading down to the Tate Modern to check out their Surrealist room. That may have been another bad choice, just because I was too knackered to take it all in. I couldn't really process--though it was neat to see some Cindy Sherman prints. There is a scene in Love the Way You Love where Isobel gets a Cindy Sherman book. I didn't know her work, but Joëlle suggested her when I was working on the script, so it was neat to see what is a new discovery for me.

That was about all I could handle that night, though, and I knew the hired car would be there at 7:00 in the morning to take me home. I bought a couple of souvenirs--a Powell & Pressburger box with A Matter of Life and Death is a must--but it was pretty much over in a shot. Yet, everything else was on Mickey Mouse's dime, so I can't complain. I'm not entirely sure what the whole purpose of a press junket is. It wasn't like my mind was changed about the DVD, which I had already watched before I left the States. They flew people from all over Europe, Japan, and Korea, as well as other Americans and Canadians. Most everyone else in the group do these kinds of things all the time, and I guess maybe it means guaranteed coverage for whatever movie is being showcased. It's pretty wild.

One side story: There was a bizarre incident at the customs counter at Heathrow that I still haven't figured out. When I was waiting in line, there was also a Middle Eastern family waiting--a mom, a dad, and three or four children of various ages. I first noticed them because the oldest boy was wearing a really nice Glenfiddich jacket, and I thought it odd to see a 12-year-old advertising whiskey. The family ended up in the kiosk next to me, and when I stepped out of line, I saw what looked like the mother trying to push the oldest boy through to the other side of the kiosk. He looked like he was resisting, and my immediate thought was that maybe they were being denied and she believed if she got him to the other side, England had to take her son. When I was walking out, though, I saw that he was on the other side and was laying on the floor, eyes closed, his mother over him. Both times I looked, no one was really getting excited or freaking out, and I kept watching him as I walked away. As I turned the corner, the boy opened his eyes and, I swear, he looked at me. Was he faking? I'll always wonder what was really happening.

Current Soundtrack: Bryan Ferry, Dylanesque

Current Mood: rejuvenated

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All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich


steve said...

So I was thinking you might have gone to England. Either that or you went off the deep end and thought you were actually going to Neverland. Glad you got to go on this trip. Peter Pan is probably my favorite Disney movie, so I think it's pretty cool you got to experience all this (and on their dime to boot!). Enjoyed your report, and review of the DVD. Will be getting my copy today!

Greg McElhatton said...

Ah, nice! Sounds like a great way to spend time while technically there for work. I'm quite envious, and glad it all went so well.

Jay Eales said...

Dammit! I happened to be in London for the weekend, and also found myself in the Tate Modern, and saw you circling the Surrealists a few times. I did a doubletake, but couldn't quite convince myself that it was really you, and my girlfriend was sceptical about the whole thing, so I didn't want to bounce enthusiastically at you, and risk making a tit of myself...

Hey ho! Hope you had a good time, tiredness and exchange rate aside. Shame the weather wasn't better for either of us.


Jamie S. Rich said...

Jay, that's really weird. You should have used my trick of just saying the persons name out loud and seeing if they turn around. It worked when I thought I saw Vera Brosgol at Belle & Sebastian. If it's not them, no one's the wiser.

We didn't get an itinerary until we arrived, and that was for only Friday, the Saturday info came the next day, which is another reason I didn't announce my arrival. I didn't want to make a lot of plans I'd have to cancel. I did think it would be funny if I was recognized somewhere, even though I never have been until now. I wanted it to happen on the tours so everyone would be impressed and I could be all, "Yeah, I'm kind of a big deal." ;)

Jay Eales said...

Y'know... I did mention your name out loud to Selina, but due to that ol' British reserve, it was probably only audible to bats.

I was hoping that you might speak so I could at least catch the accent to make sure. But then, as you were on your own, talking to yourself or to the exhibits probably wouldn't have looked that good...

And round about then, I realised I was overthinking things, and should probably stop stalking you and go look at the priddy pitchers... ; )


mcoale said...

that's a great looking box set.

I assume that you (like me) probably already have over half of the pictures in it though.

Jamie S. Rich said...

Yeah, there were four movies in the box I didn't have, so it was a quick bit of math to see if it was worth it. LIFE & DEATH on its own was, I think 12 pounds (or 16, but I think that was something else I was looking at, a Graham Greene adaptation called HEART OF THE MATTER.) I figured the other three weren't likely to see the light of day very soon, and given the fact that the only time LIFE & DEATH was announced (and it is my favorite), it disappeared from the schedule without explanation, I had to go for it.

The other thing I was looking at was the Alan Ladd/Veronica Lake film BLUE DAHLIA. I was able to look up reviews online, and while the P&P was said to be very good, DAHLIA was merely fair, and so for 10 pounds ($20), I figured I'd hold out. Warners will get to it eventually.