Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Ottawa Celebrity Sighting Society

When Nick was in private school, I spent a lot of time hussling him back and forth from the Ottawa International Aiport.

As frequent flyers know, you see a lot of important or famous people if you're just sitting around.

One time, we were standing in line and I saw Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy, in line in front of us. Obviously, Alex didn't realize there was a line for him (first class) and a line for us (no class).

"Nick," I said, excitedly. "Look it's Alex Trebek."

He shrugged.

"Go on up there. Don't you want to meet Alex Trebek?

He just looked at him.

"Maybe he'd like to meet me."

What a great attitude.

I wish I had Nick's self-confidence.

For my whole life, I've been fascinated by celebrities and impotent folks, so I spent a lot of time doing jobs that put me in direct contact with them. For a few years, I was an entertainment writer and got to interview all sorts of famous people, mostly on the phone. Most of them were musicians, some were movie stars, and none of them, absolutely none of them, wanted to talk to me.

I followed my short entertainment career with a stint in politics -- in Trudeau's PMO no less -- so I got to rub elbows with a lot of people who, as the sayng goes, were in show business for ugly people.

There were a few times when I actually went to smallish dinners with Trudeau himself, whom I discovered quickly had no time for small talk.

"So," I said. "What's it like working with Joe Clark?"

"He's a small mean man."

"What tree would you like to be?"

"A cactus."

I'm kidding about the second question, but Trudeau was definitely a hard interview.

Then Scott and I got to meet all manner of rock stars while filming our documentary about the Ottawa Bluesfest: Elvis Costello, Gregg Allman -- who didn't know where he was -- Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi. Scott even got to step on Gord Downie's wife's foot while shooting from the side of the stage.

My life has been a groupie's dream come true. But the older I get, the less time I have for celebrities. When you've been around politicians long enough, they start to smell bad, at least in your mind.

Rock stars and film stars hate the media. I haven't met one who would have wanted to have a drink or a meal with me.

So when I heard Barbara Walters, my absolute hero, was coming to town, I should have dropped everything and run out to buy a ticket to the Negev dinner. But I didn't.

I realized that Nick was right all along.

Maybe Barbara should want to meet me instead.

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