Ahh, Hollywood. You can backpedal down a spiral staircase with a fresh death-row inmate and four photogs you don't even like and STILL not suffer the concussion that is a red carpet event. I knew that going into my latest American Idol mission and aside from stopping to buy a protective cup, it didn't really slow me down. Maybe I'm a masochist. Maybe I just like the view there on the rim of eminence, where farm girls twirl and crooners moon until celebrity judges nudge each other and ogle another ingenue. Maybe I'm too old for this shit. That's what I was thinking last week, anyway, as Shannon Smith and I wedged our way into an unforgiving wall of glass. A strip of masking tape marked our spot inside the rented tent perched atop that parking deck, but with dozens of other camera crews vying for a similar view, it was all I could to hold my ground. But hold it I did, thanks to grit, fortitude and a handy step-stool I'd brought along. This ain't my first rodeo - or even my first red carpet. Idol taught me The Way of the Rug long ago. Hell, I was there the night Hasselhoff cried. But that's not important right now. What is important is that someone pry that microphone cube out of my spleen, 'else I'm gonna climb down from this wobbly perch and choke a certain dandy. LOOK OUT!
Oh, it's just the judges. From the way those print photographers started yelling, I figured a cloud of anthrax just blew in. That, or somebody knocked over a box of rattlesnakes. Hey, I'm no apologist for the pretty people, but you've never felt bad for a movie star until you've watched a guy who looks like he slept in a urinal click his camera and yell "J-LO!" forty-seven hundred times. It's enough to make Celebrity Rehab seem appealing. Or even American Idol. Fact is, the faces have changed since I last rode the red (blue) carpet. Not behind the camera, though. For all its global reach, Idol seems to be staffed by the same six people. There - that dude pushing Randy Jackson into place, wasn't he the one with the bullhorn in Atlanta? I'm pretty sure I remember him hurling frozen water bottles at a coliseum full of caterwauling wannabes. Anyway, back to the talent. That Jennifer Lopez sure is pretty. We were just about to go LIVE(!) when she stepped into the tent. Both Shannon and I wanted badly to include Jenny from the Block in our little remote, but it was not to be. A competing crew ensnared Lopez moments before our hit and, despite a variety of hand gestures, I was unable to free her in time. I'm sure it's not the first time J-Lo's watched camera crews fight over her. Nor the last.
Hmm? What's that? WHO am I wearing? Uhh, at last check, it was an entertainment reporter from Tulsa. She's been digging her heels into my shin ever since Seacrest entered the tent. By the time he gets over here, I figure she'll have climbed me altogether. Where does an overly made-up mother of two with jet lag get that kind of energy? And is that really her cameraman's pancreas hanging from her key-chain? Man, those aging anchor ladies sure know how to unpack an elbow. If she digs one more body part into my sternum, someone's gonna have to change their last name. I just hope I can write off a week of chiropractic visits on my expense report... but enough about me.
Let's talk about him. Steven Tyler, that's who! Despite the presence of J-Lo's famous, uh, entourage, the lead singer of Aerosmith was by far the biggest spectacle on the carpet that night.
Now, I can't vouch for what he told Lara Logan, but during our time together, Tyler was gracious, patient, almost lucid! He may be lacking a few synapses, but, hey, who here isn't? Yes, before his handler could pry him away, the better half of the Toxic Twins mused on this year's contestants, serenaded some reporter chick's little girl and remained wholly appropriate. Only twice did he cock his head to the side and listen, as if a radio station only he could her just dropped the needle on 'Sweet Emotion'. Truth is, Tyler could have started making shadow puppets and I'd hold my lighter up high. Dude's an American Bad-Ass. Sure, his band mates balked when he signed on for American Idol, but when's the last time Tom Hamilton puts asses in the seats, eh? The way I see it, Tyler's not only aging gracefully, he's giving a few folks the middle finger along the way. How Rock and Roll is that? Like I telling my 4th grade classmates, Aerosmith's way better than those morons in KISS! They dropped 'Big Ten Inch (Record)' on an unsuspecting planet, helped bridge the rock to rap gap in the early 80's, even pulled off one of the finest Beatles covers ever! Yes, for all the gasbags that passed through my glass that evening, I was happy to share the rarefied air with this living legend. Besides, for a guy who still dresses like Doug Henning's mushroom dealer, he seems to feel intrinsically hip.
Who am I to hate on THAT?