John on February 25, 2011 at 6:28 am
When I was at CPAC a couple weeks ago I, and a group of other bloggers, got to see scenes from the upcoming Atlas Shrugged part 1. The producers were there and offered tickets to the premiere. Fortunately, the first showing was scheduled for 2/24 (yesterday) in LA, not far from my home in Orange County.
In my days as a wannabe screenwriter I spent a fair amount of time banging around Hollywood. I’ve been on the Disney lot, the Paramount lot, the CBS lot and the Universal lot (the last one on the public tour). But I’d never been on the Sony lot, in Culver City, CA. It’s quite an impressive place. Co-blogger Scott and I arrived about an hour early, so we had some time to walk through it. Some of the sound stages are gigantic and the office blocks have that old timey Hollywood feel, i.e. little bungalows named for famous people. We walked by the Happy Madison production offices but Adam Sandler wasn’t around.
Eventually, we made our way to the small screening theater where the film was being shown. It was set up outside with tables, drinks and snacks. I immediately bumped into Matt Kibbe from Freedom Works, who I’d met last year. He had actually just come out of the 4PM screening but was thinking about hanging around for a repeat showing. I asked him for a verdict on what he’d seen and he was enthusiastic about it. I only realized later that he actually is thanked in the credits of the film. After meeting Matt’s lovely wife, Scott and I went to find a place to sit for a while as we’d been walking around the lot for about 20 minutes at that point.
Each table had some fold out press kits for people to take home. The design is the same as the image on the poster. Here’s what they looked like (You can see the inside here).
Within a few minutes of finding a seat a woman approached our table and said that someone would be joining us. Uh…sure. Great. That someone turned out to be Nathaniel Branden. For those who aren’t familiar with the backstory (I only knew the broad strokes myself), in 1950 a 19 year old Nathan Branden met Ayn Rand. He became her student and helped her promote objectivism (her philosophy) for nearly two decades. During this time, the two also carried on an affair though both were married at the time. They eventually separated on less than friendly terms. Branden later wrote a book about his experiences. Incidentally, Branden’s wife (yes, the one he cheated on and later divorced) also wrote a book about Rand which was later made into a film starring Helen Mirren. Here’s a photo of Dr. Branden at “our” table (on the right).
Finally at about quarter to seven we went up to the theater and got our seats. A few minutes before the film started a man came and sat next to me (it was a smallish theater and packed). I didn’t notice him really, but Scott immediately said to me “That’s the Highlander dude.” I struck up a little conversation about how he’d gotten into the screening and sure enough, it was Adrian Paul who many of us probably remember as Duncan MacLeod in Highlander the Series. Nice guy. Still ridiculously good looking as movie stars tend to be. So now it really feels like I’m back in Hollywood.
Then with a few brief words of introduction the film began. I’m writing a separate post with my review of the film itself, but if you want the short review: Really excellent. [My review is now up.]
Afterward, I introduced myself to Graham Beckel, the character actor who plays Ellis Wyatt in the film. He is one of the standouts and really chews the scenery (in a superb way) every time he is on screen. Graham is actually the brother of Bob Beckel who many conservatives know as the regular liberal voice on Sean Hannity’s panel. I told him a story about watching his brother win over a hostile crowd at the Bakersfield Business Conference and he chuckled.
So with a last word of encouragement to the producers, Scott and I headed back to the parking lot and home. It was a memorable and very enjoyable evening. Thanks again to the producers for letting us be part of it.
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