Back in the 70’s, my favorite TV show was The Brady Bunch. Like every prepubescent teen-age boy, I was in love with Marcia Brady. My life’s aspiration was to head on over to Hollywood and become a rising screen star–just like her. Well, as most of you know by now, things didn’t quite work out. I became a dentist, trading paparazzi for patients, Emmys for enamel, and Oscars for orthodontics (Sorry, I’m new at blogging and probably trying a little too hard there). But through the years, I still maintained my fascination for the television and film industry. I know I’ll never be George Clooney, but now-a-days a free ticket to some studio audience show tapings will probably be as close as I’ll ever get to celebrity stardom.
And that’s where Katie and I are headed–to Jimmy Kimmel Live right on Hollywood Boulevard. Security is extra tight here today in Tinseltown for some reason. In exchange for the show tickets, you basically had to agree to part ways with anything that wasn’t anatomically attached to your body. No cameras, recording devices, sharp objects, mace, or spray bottles allowed. You’re then made to wait in line for 90 interminable minutes outside the building before being unceremoniously wanded, frisked, and interrogated by security personnel. C’mon man–Who’s Jimmy’s guest today–the Pope? Once inside the lobby, it’s another 45 minute wait at which time we’re given one last chance to purge ourselves in the restrooms. As the doors finally open into the taping studio, the excitement of late night TV suddenly takes over and all the hassles we’ve just endured magically vaporize.
I immediately make a plea to the set director for a front row seat. “I’m visiting from Kentucky and have been dreaming of this moment for years!” I tell her animatedly. She politely smiles and directs me to a seat in the far back corner of the set. We spend the next 30 minutes learning about studio-audience-etiquette, essentially when to clap and scream and when to shut up. We’re lead no doubt by some lackey intern together with an aging Don Rickles look-alike trying to earn their stripes up the big time comedy ladder. They’re both OK but I’ve seen better and don’t anticipate either of them starring in their own sitcom any time soon.
From this remote vantage point, the familiar set looks much smaller than it does on my screen at home. Cleto and his house band are here together with sidekick Guillermo and his mustache. Right on cue, Jimmy bounds out like some late-night-TV superstar, delivering his opening monologue without a hitch. He’s funny, engaging and a bit taller than I had imagined. His guest tonight isn’t the Pope, but it’s close. It’s THE Rob Lowe–bratpack star of St. Elmo’s Fire, Wayne’s World, and currently Fox’s hit series The Grinder. Rob is as handsome as ever, tanned and toned–looking a decade younger than his 52 years. OK, I confess I’ve got a man crush on the guy but what’s not to like about him. Those sex tapes and nanny lawsuits are a thing of the past. I say forgive and forget. The guy’s made an awesome comeback.
Rob’s co-guest tonight is Chloe Bennet–currently starring as agent Daisy Johnson on The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She’s not nearly as famous as Rob, but probably even cuter than he is, if that’s even possible. She’s also half Chinese which automatically vaults her up near the top of the Huang celebrity meter. “Her name is really Chloe Wang and now she’s a Hollywood star”, I tell Katie–making sure to impress on my daughter that Chinese girls in America no longer are restricted to menial jobs such as doctors, lawyers, or engineers.
The hour or so of taping flies by. Jimmy is Jimmy, seamlessly interviewing his guests, cracking jokes and effortlessly reading his promos. I found myself fantasizing about somehow trading places with him. Me– a Hollywood talk show star–spending a Cinco de Mayo with Rob Lowe, while Jimmy goes back to writing this lackluster blog. Nah–I like it better just the way it is. As wonderful as Rob is, I’d much rather spend the rest of my day with Katie and Bingo. Even in Hollywood, it doesn’t get any better than that.