Author’s note: You know when Kelly Clarkson won American Idol and sang that song? This post is meant to be read with that playing softly in the background.

Thursday afternoon, I emailed a contact at the Mill Valley Film Festival, the very generous Ashley, to see if she had any fun events I could cover. A minute later, Ashley responded, “If you want to cover the Clive Owen Tribute tomorrow night, I need to know ASAP.”

It took me an hour just to stop hyperventilating.

Ashley made it clear that I could try and interview this star of stage and screen on the red carpet, but the interview would be incredibly short.

Interview? INTERVIEW? I thought I’d merely be in the same room as the man who haunts my dreams. I jumped into action.

Without even knowing who Clive Owen is, the fine folks at VidSF scrambled (my usual partner in crime, Beth Hondl, is out of town) and managed to rope videographer Diana Ramirez into driving all the way to Marin (gasp) and shooting this momentous occasion.

I wasn’t so sure about this Diana. “The Beths” are very dependent on Beth Hondl’s considerable talent. Without her, you have no idea the crap I am capable of. Turns out, Diana was terrific! And a Clive fan. This proved to be very important, as I was pretty much a wreck.

I’m star-struck around local newscasters. Clive Owen? I’ve been drooling over this international icon for years. YEARS! The accent! The gaze! The rugged masculinity! Clive fucking Owen!

As it turned out, Diana was just as giddy as me, which reassured me that I was in good hands with her behind the camera.

An hour before Clive was due to arrive, no other press had shown up. A literal red carpet ran all the way from the street through the front doors of the theater. And then at the front door of the theater, a velvet rope had been set up along the red carpet. The velvet rope didn’t go all the way to the street. It was just by the front door of the theater and we were told to stake out our spot behind it.

Diana and I took the first place behind the velvet rope. We were soon joined by Phillip Siddiq, who has a show on Comcast in the East Bay and who very sweetly saved our sacred spot so we could interview people in line.

Thanks to a hot tip from Ashley the publicist, we found Mania from San Francisco, Clive’s biggest fan. Mania and her daughter had been in line since 9am, hoping to make it into this sold out event. Mania was hilarious, sweet and nervous. When I told her I might have the opportunity to speak with the man himself, Mania nearly keeled over. And who can blame her.

Which brings me to a question for Mr. Owen. I’d been told this time with Clive would be shorter than my red carpet time with Benjamin Bratt. Ashley had set up that San Francisco International Film Festival event as well, and made it clear to me that Clive Owen would be ushered into his “Spotlight” with swiftness.

I imagined Clive Owen watching me vomit or collapse in front of him, the whole thing captured by numerous cameras as the video finally goes viral and I go down in infamy. I was simply grateful to be in the man’s presence, but prepared a question just in case I’d get a second with him. My question (Do anything touristy in San Francisco?) was stupid, but who cares! I didn’t think I’d get to ask it, and honestly, the thought of Clive Owen turns my brain to mush. Even as I type this now, I have no idea what I’m writing. I’m still riding the Clive Owen wave.

Diana and I were getting so worked up as the minutes ticked by, we thought every passing car might be Clive. Diana actually jerked her head around to watch a bus, as if the earth-shatteringly famous Clive Owen might be taking Golden Gate Public Transit. By this time, other press had begun to arrive and much to my horror, were not respecting the boundary of the velvet rope. Believe it or not, I’m a rule follower. I was told that to see Clive Owen, I should stay behind the velvet rope. And that’s what I did. But these professionals? They were out in the sidewalk, setting up cameras and BREAKING THE RULES!!!

I’ve got a lot of faith in Ashley the publicist. And all of the other publicists I met while we all waited on that red carpet were not the intimidating Hollywood types I’d imagined, but lovely, funny women who were all more than willing to acknowledge that it was, you know, Clive Owen and you know, Ding Dong! I felt sure they’d do their best to hook us up.

Told that the entourage would arrive in two black Suburbans, we all gasped when one of the big, black, celebrity-style cars pulled up. You can imagine the hundreds of fallen faces when some other folks, all of whom are probably fascinating people but none of whom I cared about, emerged instead of Clive.

We were still scanning the street for another Suburban when it happened. The next thing I know, there was Clive Owen strolling up the sidewalk like he’s out for his evening constitutional.

Flashbulps popped and someone started applauding, like him walking on a sidewalk was somehow praiseworthy.

Which it admittedly was.

The publicists guided him to the first camera crew as we watched the interviewer ask him question after question. After question.

As the minutes ticked by, I thought, “Hmmmm. He’s really spending a lot of time with this red carpet thing.

They brought him next to a woman and her reporter’s notebook.

Again, question after question was discussed in what I can only assume to be exhaustive detail. Which is when it occurred to me that I was next and that aside from, “So, enjoying the Bay Area?!?!” I had nothing. It was clear that I would be given just as much time with Clive Owen (oh my God, Clive Owen) and I honestly thought I was having a minor stroke.

I imagined Clive Owen watching me vomit or collapse in front of him, the whole thing captured by numerous cameras as the video finally goes viral and I go down in infamy. Clive would have to try and rescue me, but people inside had paid good money to hear him speak. He would have to pretend to regretfully leave me there in a barfy puddle on the red carpet and I’d be a cautionary tale to amateur red carpet interviewers. Don’t get to close to your heroes, folks. You might throw up on them.

Clive made his way towards me and you can see the whole thing in the video. I don’t remember it, like I’ve been in a tragic accident and woke up only after. Clive? Did he talk to me? I have no idea. Thank God there’s cinematic proof.

Afterwards, Diana and I shared the earphones and giggled at our video, which we could see on the camera. We were joined by some giddy festival volunteers who watched over our shoulder and kept high-fiving. The whole block was ecstatic with Clive fever.

I hate to get all emotional and personal for a moment, but I’ve been pretty upfront that 2008 was, as my boss puts it, a pretty shitty year for me. Friday night, as I hugged Diana goodbye and made my way to my car, it finally hit me. I’ve been working very hard and staying very focused in the hopes of never having another 2008 again. I’ve been so afraid of jinxing it, I’ve kept my head down and my fingers crossed for almost a year.

Um, I made Clive Owen laugh the other night.


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