The TCA holds an annual press tour where Networks present their new shows to the critics. These presentations often take the form of a clip show followed by a panel.
Along with the other networks, HBO was there to present its new shows, and wouldn’t you know it, but my boss’s new show was on the list.
So I go to Hollywood for just under a week as part of a celebrity entourage. Surrealism commences.
To begin with, everything is first class. And I mean everything. HBO arranged cars to pick us up and take us to the airport (we didn’t use them), we were both flown first class to LA, and a car was waiting for us when we landed. It was a Mercedes, very plush. That will matter later.
We were whisked off to the Four Seasons where we each had our own palatial room. We discovered we had a sizable per diem attached to each room as well, so food, minibar, and the occasional massage were also going to be on HBO’s tab.
Now, before I go on, I should mention that I haven’t always been a lowly PA for a celebrity writer. Prior to my mid life crisis and lengthening hairline, I was a corporate guy. Senior management at some relatively good sized companies. I’ve traveled the corporate version of first class before. It was nothing, nothing like this.
Just hanging out in my Hotel I ran into Neil Peart of my favorite progressive rock band and got to shake his hand, and then later rode an elevator with Liev Schreiber. I didn’t shake his hand. He was in a jogging suit and had an iPod on. I just nodded in a way I hoped was cool. He nodded back in a way that actually WAS cool. We parted before our combined cool could disable the elevator and plunge us to our deaths.
Oddly enough, the least interesting part of the trip was the TCA media day. We did get to watch about fifteen minutes of the Boss’s new show, and that was fun. But once the media circus ramped up, it was just a constant Brownian motion as actors, writers, and producers milled through tight hotel hallways and packed into cramped rooms to be interviewed by every magazine and media news show on the planet. For most the evening I followed the Boss around and made sure he was hydrated so the lights didn’t kill him.
Of course, I did get to meet and shake hands with Sean Bean (Dude, fucking Boromir!), and with Peter Dinklage. Peter has absolutely blown everyone away with his portrayal of Tyrion in the show, and I’d have loved to buy the guy a beer and chat with him, but alas that was not meant to be. I also ran into Emilia Clarke in the green room, but she was at the center of her own personal whirlwind and so we didn’t get to do much more than say hi in passing.
Once the media day was over, things settled down a lot and some fun could be had. The Boss’s agent and my pal Kay was in town, as well as our mutual friend Melinda. I decided to pop over to their hotel one evening for an hour or two and grab a drink. To do this, I walked out the front door of the hotel, said to the doorman, “I need a car to take me over to the Sofitel,” and one minute later a black Rolls Royce pulled up to the curb. This same black Rolls came back two hours later to take me home after my third gin and tonic.
And I have to tell you, having now been chauffeured around in high end Mercedez and a Rolls, I can actually tell the difference. The Rolls was just the most lush vehicle I’ve ever ridden in. Is it worth its six figure pricetag? I couldn’t say. But if you ever get the chance to be driven around in one while sipping expensive bottled water, I’d say go for it. Yes, it is a wasteful display of meaningless indulgence, a whole lot of money on wheels for the sole purpose of letting everyone around you know you are their better.
But it was a sweet ride.
I haven’t even gotten to the book signing where the Boss had a line that wrapped around the building. Or the former swimsuit model who came to the signing to meet the Boss and I and hung all over me while pictures were taken. And then told me she might be an elf in the Hobbit movie (I’m hoping you get it!) Or the fan party thrown for the boss after the signing with cute girls in custom made Westeros T-shirts and the constant stream of gin and tonics (Brotherhood peeps know how to party). It was a freaking whirlwind of a week.
Most surreal moment? Being in the middle of all this hubbub and having three agents want to meet with ME about MY book. Am I a tiny blip on this radar? Oh, hell yes. But I’m on there now. And I’ve seen where it can wind up.
And that’s effing surreal.