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Gwyneth Paltrow

Gosh, is it Oscar time again?

by RhodesTer on February 21, 2009

Oscar gets a blow job

It seems as though it was only a few years ago – seven, actually – that I stood on that stage myself and accepted the award for my performance as “best security guard to break into the Kodak Theater at three in the morning and stand on the stage holding a flashlight while goofing off” award.

In 2001 the Kodak was being built, smack dab in the middle of the Hollywood & Highland complex, which was also being built. We lived behind it on Orchard, right where the soon-to-be Renaissance Hotel was located. It faces Highland, but the loading dock lets out onto Orchard, which is a tiny little street in the heart of Hollywood that doesn’t really go anywhere.

I could walk out the front door of our apartment complex and walk into the loading dock of the Renaissance, but I didn’t because, you know, who wants to go walking around in loading docks?


The Renaissance Hotel as seen from the air, with the rear of the Kodak
Theater and our old apartment building, which was the 2nd building
down from the Kodak on the right of the pic.

I worked at Universal Studios at the time as a ride operator on the ET Attraction, which was a facsimile of the bicycle ride ET took at the end of the movie, with the dog in the basket past the moon and all of that. It was a horrible job because I was already getting old then, and I worked for 19 year old shift leads, who can be a bit attitudinal when they have a guy like me who has to mop up vomit when they tell him too. Fortunately there wasn’t a lot of vomit on the ET Attraction because it didn’t go over 5 miles per hour. But there were other things, like dropped snow cones and stuff.

In late 2001 there were these bad guys who flew airplanes into buildings out there in New York City and it scared the crap out of all of us, so security companies started hiring like crazy. I went to work for an outfit that had gotten the contract to provide security to the Hollywood & Highland complex, which was still a pile of construction materials at the time, so we were sent out to augment the security at Warner Brothers Studios for a few weeks.

We mainly searched cars lined up at the gates to come in, and my job was to ride a bicycle around to all of the gates and relieve our security people for breaks and lunch, so I’d search cars at gate nine for a while, and then head over to gate three, and then over to gate two, all day long. We searched everyone, from the head of Warner Brothers Studios to the lady who flipped burgers at the commisary. Nobody was exempt because, darn it, bad guys had flown airplanes into buildings and we weren’t going to take it lying down.. so we were dilligent about making sure Jennifer Aniston wasn’t taking pipe bombs into the set of “Friends.”


Sexy terrorist, Jennifer Aniston

When the Hollywood & Highland Complex approached an opening date, they sent us over there to start getting acclimated. It was still a construction site, so we had to wear hard hats and boots as we walked around with flashlights, mace and handcuffs.

One night, Bob and I wandered over to the area of the Kodak Theater to have a look. We found an open door, so in we went. The interior was pristine, and looked like it was ready for the first show. They wouldn’t be hosting the Oscars for a few months yet, but we stood on the stage and speculated as to what it might be like to stand there with the place full of every major player in the entertainment business plus the eyes of a billion people watching you as you stammer through an acceptance speech.

It was a bit exhilarating.

Oddly enough, nobody was around. Lights had been left on and a door unlocked but not a soul was in the place except for Bob and I, making it one of those times I’ll never forget, like when coffeesister and I hung out at the top of the Eiffel Tower for about 25 minutes and watched the sunset over Paris with nobody else around. I think every now and then God gives me little gifts like this, and I’m supposed to hold onto them and call them up during bad times.

I went to a few shows at the Kodak after it opened, but nothing beat standing on that stage that night long ago. I was a security supervisor at the complex, so I got to be on the red carpet during all kinds of award shows, and there weren’t any 19 year olds who bossed me around. They called me “sir” instead – at least at first, until I told them to knock it off because I’m not like that.

So, coffeesister and I are going to be watching the Oscars Sunday night and I don’t care who wins what, so if you thought this was going to be a typical Oscar post including “RhodesTer’s picks”, then I’m sorry to disappoint – I just don’t see many movies these days. I watch it for the fun of it and to reminisce about my glory days in Hollywood, searching Jennifer Aniston’s Jag for pipe bombs.

True story - shortly after Hollywood & Highland opened, we had a security detail down at the entrance to the parking garage doing the car search thing, just like we’d done out at Warner Brothers, but this time I was in the dispatch center. They weren’t searching every vehicle coming in because it would have caused traffic to back up onto Highland Avenue, so they were instructed to search every sixth car. A young security officer called up and asked, “Hey dispatch, I have a sixth car stopped but do I have to search this lady? It’s Gwyneth Paltrow.” I looked on the security camera and sure enough, it was her. “Of course you have to search her”, I said,  “haven’t you seen Shakespeare In Love?”


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by RhodesTer on April 26, 2008

BIG-ASS TropheyAt times, I’ve been accused of NAME-DROPPING on this blog.  To that I say, I don’t!  I just lay them down gently. Then it’s up to you to step through the minefield of celebrity and fame, and if you trip over one or two in the process, well, who’s fault is that?  Can I help it that I used to schmooze with the rich and famous?  I can?  Okay, you’re right.

But still, sometimes I tell stories about it and they’re almost interesting, and I need to put SOMETHING on here besides “today I rode my bike to work and it was a pretty day and the lady on the bus stop bench had a dog.”

I’m wondering though, if it counts as NAME-DROPPING if you talk about a famous pile of metal rather than a person.  You see, JAMES at MEN WITH PENS has hired me to do some freelance writing work (YAY!), so we’ve been exchanging notes and ideas via email.  Sometimes we digress.

Yesterday, we were talking about how to give a first-person narrative with strong anchor phrases and keywords, but somehow got onto the subject of Hollywood.  That happens with me a lot, and that’s when I get accused of name-dropping.  James hasn’t accused me of it though, yet, but he should because I couldn’t help showing him up.  I always do that and it’s a bad, BAD habit.  If you saw Steven Spielberg in a mall, I hung out with him on the set of an Oscar nominated film.  If you saw Muhammed Ali fight way back when, I spent half the day with him on a security detail.  If you spotted Gwyneth Paltrow in Sardi’s during your trip to LA, I once tried to kill her.

It never ends.

What happened yesterday, is that I’d just mentioned something about somebody – I can’t remember WHO, because there are just SO MANY – and James wrote back the following..

I do have an autograph of Denis Hamel on my fridge .. he’s a famous hockey player. Like, you’re supposed to know who he is. Comes from my town. Famous. I’m telling you. Denis. Yes?

Well, like I could leave THAT alone!  I could do better, so I wrote back..

A few years back I was booked as an extra on an HBO show called “Arli$$“, about a sports agent (or reporter, or something.. I’d never watched it).  We shot some scenes on a soundstage and then broke for lunch – another soundstage that wasn’t being used for the show had been set up as a cafeteria, and I grabbed a tray of food and took a seat at an empty table.  I didn’t know anyone there, and didn’t really want to fraternize with the crew.

As I was eating, some guy came in with this big-ass trophy, and everyone cheered.  He asked, “Where do I put it?”  One of the crew guys pointed to my table and told him to set it there, so he did.  Then everyone just HAD to come over and flock around it for a nice close-up view and, since it had been set down about three feet away from me, I was suddenly surrounded by crew people, pushing and shoving for a closer view of it.

So, I had lunch with THE STANLEY CUP.  The REAL one, not a prop, because they do that sort of thing with it. I later found out that it makes “appearances” all over the place, just like a celebrity.  It was on loan to be used in that particular episode of the show – I forgot to mention the armed guard who stayed within view of it the whole time.

So, yeah.. speaking of HOCKEY.  Sorry, I’ve never heard of Denis.

So now you see how annoying I can be.  But I was wondering if it counts when it’s a big-ass metal cup instead of a person. I’d better be careful when it comes to James, though.  He’s my new boss.  Did I mention that he hired me to WRITE?

It’s kind of hard though, because I’m finding out that when I’m extolling the virtues of the new Mercedes C63, I can’t mention lesbians, clowns or monkeys.

It’s quite the challenge.

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The day I almost killed Gwyneth Paltrow

October 23, 2007
Thumbnail image for The day I almost killed Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth jumped in beside me and extended her hand. “Hi, I’m Gwyneth,” she said.

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