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The conversations going on around us were beyond ridiculous. Justin and I acted like we were talking to each other, but we were actually eavesdropping on all the people knotted up in different corners of the reception. We were slack-jawed and wide-eyed, primarily because two Midwestern boys like us never thought we’d ever get close to these Hollywood elites. You see, when you grow up in Kansas City like Justin did and in Cleveland like I did, the closest you come to a celebrity encounter is seeing George Brett driving along I-70, or cleaning Bernie Kosar’s golf clubs after a round.
Some of the chatter centered on projects in the works and who saw whom at whose house in the Hamptons. But a few people were curiously eyeing Justin and me, and not because we’re particularly good-looking. No, they wanted to know who these two guys were who walked in with George.
Here’s the background: We moved out to L.A. for summer internships. And because good interns don’t make money, I waited tables at the Hard Rock Café at ?Universal Studios when I wasn’t interning.
My internship at Mutual Film Co. had some perks. From time to time, I’d get a couple of passes to a movie premiere. My Hard Rock friends were all wannabe actors whom I’d never bring to these events because the big stars on hand didn’t want to be pitched. So I brought Justin.
One night, I landed tickets for the premiere of Out of Sight, which was being screened at Universal Studios. The Universal Studios lot, however, is sprawling, and parking is a problem. But I had my employee parking pass, so I parked in that garage. As Justin and I started walking the path that I walked every night for work, I noticed there was a long red carpet rolled all the way out to the street. Then I noticed a limousine. The chauffeur opened the limousine’s back door, and out came George. He started waving to the hundreds of people lining Universal CityWalk. Since we were only three paces in front of him, Justin and I started waving too. Of course, nobody waved back, but a Hard Rock waitress/friend of mine, who was standing on the balcony of the restaurant and watching the procession, did yell over the cheering crowd.
“Adam! What on earth are you doing on the red carpet with George?”
I imitated George: I smiled and waved.
Back at the party after the movie screening, Justin and I stood there like scared goats. We were too nervous to talk to anyone. When Danny DeVito walked by, Justin finally broke our silence.
“Hi, I’m Justin Williams. I just wanted to say that I really liked you in Taxi.”
“Oh, thanks a lot. I really appreciate that.”
Justin empowered me to try the same move with Dennis Farina, who was sipping a drink and watching two boxers spar in a ring that was built in the middle of the bar.
“Are you the guy they call ‘Ray Bones’?” I asked him in a nod to his role in the movie Get Shorty.
“Oh, you liked that, huh?” he said with a fake smile, followed by an eye roll. I quickly walked away and took my place beside Justin over in a corner.
After awhile, a very sweet lady named Helen approached us. “I saw you guys walk in with George,” she began. “I just have to ask: Who are you?”
“We’re nobody,” Justin said. “Nope, not a soul,” I added. We chitchatted some more, and then she invited us to sit at her table for dinner. Moments after we took our seats, a beautiful lady in a white dress sauntered up and took her seat next to Helen. “Hi,” she said to Justin and me. “I’m Jennifer.”
Once upon a time, before there was Jenny from the Block — before there was a J.Lo — there was Jennifer, a talented, shy singer and actress who commanded attention with what she didn’t say as much as she did with the words she spoke. This issue’s profile (page 38) of the international success of Jennifer Lopez is a unique look at the franchise that was once the beautiful lady in a white dress, as well as her new endeavor, ¡Q’Viva!
Jennifer made small talk with Justin and me for several minutes. That’s when the last guest took the last open seat at the table. He turned to the two Midwestern boys to his left and smiled.
“Hi, I’m Justin,” my buddy said, extending his hand.
“Hi, I’m Adam.”
“Hi, I’m George.”