When I was a kid, I thought nothing would be cooler than sharing air with a celebrity; then I met a few and quickly realized they cut farts in the car just like me. Since that epiphany, the thrill ain't quite been the same.
Remember the guy who played dumber-than-dirt deputy 'Enos' on "The Dukes of Hazzard"? He wasn't acting! Met him a dozen years and was befuddled to find him reeking of liquor at ten in the morning. I guess I'd drink too if my clame to fame was being the dumb one on THAT show.
Here's another newsflash: Geraldo Rivera is an insufferable jerk. I sat in on a promotions junket luncheon with him back during his talk show heyday, and within ten minutes he erased all find memories I had of him on the early days of 20/20. Nice suit, though.
Furniture Market is always good for a surreal episode involving folks of marginal fame. Kathy Ireland was incredibly sweet last year, going out of her way to talk to us dirty camera trolls. Serena Williams was nice also, but none too eager to appear in my viewfinder. Interior decorator Christopher Lowell was hospitable enough, but had more make-up on than my ninety year old Grandma on Easter Sunday. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
We won't even touch on politicians, as during campaign swing season, they're a dime a dozen. However, I did spend an odd ten minutes in a very small room with then Texas Guv George W. Bush, and a disturbingly skeletal Charlton Heston. It was all I could do to keep the 'Planet of the Apes' quotes to myself. As for W, he seemed to be dozing with his eyes open. Wish I could do that...
Speaking of walking cadavers, Richard Petty could double for Skeletor from the old He-Man cartoons. He's a familair figure around these Nascar-infested parts, but if he ever removed his trademark hat and shades you might very well walk right past him. I once told him how I covered my childhood bicycle seat with STP stickers, to which he said, "Boy - get away from me!"
One of my favorite celebrity encounters involved a hugely popular musician I used to make ALOT of fun of. It was the tail-end of the 'Hat Acts' era of country music and Garth Brooks sold out three straight nights at the local coliseum. At a pre-show press conference, he graciously hung out long enough to go live in our early shows. While waiting to go on, I asked him if he ever got tired of singing 'Achy Breaky Heart'. To his credit, he guffawed with gusto, and we had a large time chewing the fat for a few minutes. Then he snapped his fingers and disappeared in a cloud of dry ice. I kid you not.
My most recent famous person interlude was during my extended imprisonment at Camp American Idol in Washington, D.C. Simon Cowell was mellow enough, as long as he was allowed to smoke his menthol cigarttes. Randy (Fo Shizzle, Dawg!)Jackson was also agreeable, though I rarely understood everything he said. (Excuse me, Mr Jackson? Flava Flav is one the phone, he wants his schtick back...) Guest judge Mark McGrath (of psuedo-band Sugar Ray) was an absolute riot, humble, accommodating and always good for a one-liner.
Then there was Paula Abdul. Bitter, coiled and seemingly on the verge of a nervous breakdown, she kept all the PR yaks busy with her every whim. I'm not sure what crawled up her mini-skirt but I sure kept my distance the whole time I was there. Maybe she's feeling guilty for judging others' talent. After all, the woman put Arsenio Hall in her music video! For that, she's given a career-saving second chance?
Come to think of it, I hate famous people. They're like news anchors, with bigger entourages.