The Event: The 25th Anniversary of Scarecrow and Mrs. King.
The Location: The Beverly Garland Hotel in Burbank, California.
When: October 3-4, 2008
Fans got the opportunity to visit with SMK cast members and I was one of the lucky few! It was also a chance to meet many of my online friends, who share my addiction to SMK.
I flew from Seattle to Burbank Thursday afternoon where I was picked up at the airport by the lovely Jen V. She took me to the Beverly Garland Hotel where I checked in, sharing a room with Buffy and Neeney. We hung at the pool for a while and then several girls and I took the subway to Hollywood Boulevard, we walked along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, found Beverly Garland’s star, viewed Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the famous hand-prints, walked past the Kodak Theatre, saw the famous “Hollywood” sign from the distance, and did some shopping. Then we took the subway back to the hotel for dinner.
Friday morning we registered for the event and purchased SMK memorabilia and photos. We also received a goodie bag which included a tote bag with the SMK 25th Anniversary logo on it. It was filled with lots of SMK stuff. . . an anniversary program, two key chains, one with a photo of "The First Time" train scene, a small stuffed panda bear, pen, notepad, silver photo frame, travel mug—all with the SMK 25th Anniversary logo. I purchased several color and black and white photos, a red SMK ball cap, and four scripts.
I then went with Erm to pick up a couple of other fans at LAX airport. We held up scarecrows on a stick, so the girls could find us. Erm let me keep my scarecrow. He now hangs out in my computer room with me.
Later that afternoon, most of us went on the WB Studio tour with Paul Stout (Phillip King). My name was drawn and I had the opportunity to ride in the same tram with him. He gave us a personal tour of the studio and all the SMK filming sites. He also told us stories about growing up on the lot and the fun times he had on the Goonies set and then shared some stories about Bruce Boxleitner, Kate Jackson, and other cast members. He was a very nice young man (okay, maybe that's going a bit too far—I'm only a few years older). I chatted with him about Alaska (where he is from) and raising children. He has three and so do I. One of the stops was the costume museum—the top floor of the museum is all Harry Potter. There was a sorting hat and the hat put me in the Slytherin house—hey, I resent that! Another stop was to see classic Warner Brothers cars—here we stood at a 'blue screen' and they took a picture of us standing in front of the Hogwarts Express train. After the tour, we met in one of the conference rooms to screen "The First Time." The sound was not very good since it was only coming out of speakers on a laptop computer, onto a projector screen, so we all sat down on the floor and repeated the lines (we all had the lines memorized anyway). Paul joined us and gave us running commentary and insight about the episode and show. It was like one big, happy slumber party. I'm sure Paul loved all the attention, and we loved having him there. After the showing Ann throw trash at Paul—we all had a good laugh.
Some tidbits he mentioned:
-The scene where Lee and Amanda were walking really fast up the Jefferson Memorial steps, before he bids her goodbye. . . turns out that the reason they were moving so quickly is because they didn't have a permit to shoot!
-The scene with the scouts at the television studio, his brothers are extras.
- They'd designed the Agency interior from actual photos of the Pentagon.
--He mentioned how the Porsche from the first season was always breaking down and had to be pushed into frame.
The next morning we meet the cast in the Ballroom. The attendees included Bruce Boxleitner (Lee Stetson), Martha Smith (Francine), Myron Natwick (Dr. Smyth), Paul Stout (Phillip King), Joseph Brutsman (Beaman), Richard Herd ('Patch'), Peter Jurasik (Will Towne) and producers Dennis Duckwall and Kurt Galvao. I obtained several autographed photos, scripts, the Anniversary program, and the cast signed a birthday card for me! Everyone was friendly and very approachable!
Other notable tidbits:
-Stephen Furst (Babylon 5—Vir) showed up for a surprise visit, just to say hello to Bruce and Peter.
- Martha and Bruce, as their tables were close to each other, would trade comments and mock barbs back and forth.
- At one point, Deborah Tilton (Sonia Towne) showed up, and there were lots of hugs all around and she sat next to Peter and signed autographs.
--When Bruce was autographing MacGypsy’s copy of "The First Time," he looked at the scriptwriter's names on the front cover (Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner). Bruce said that something that not many people know is that she (Eugenie) wrote the character of Scarecrow, while he (Brad) wrote the character of Amanda.
After the morning autograph session, and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, several of us drove over to "Amanda's house." The house they used for the exterior shots. The house is located at 4247 Warner Avenue, not far from the studio lot. I think the neighbors thought we were nuts all hanging around the house taking a million shots—the driveway! The tree in front! The white picket fence! The gate! The house! The side of the house! Then finally, a picture of me standing by the “4247” sign! The cherry on top was there was a silver sports car parked in front!!
We then went back to the hotel for the afternoon autograph session and I sat next to Bruce Boxleitner as his helper—taking tickets, handing him pens, taking pictures, etc. I was able to listen to him tell stories and anecdotes to all the fans who came up to him for his autograph. He is super friendly and very talkative. (And I thought my son Steffen could talk)! It was such a thrill and pleasure to sit with him for three hours and then his wife Melissa Gilbert kept texting him. How cool was that?! I was on cloud nine for weeks!! Thanks Fling for giving me the opportunity. I keep telling myself it wasn’t a big deal, I direct theatre, I work with actors all the time, but I was thrilled beyond words.
After the afternoon autograph session, there was an hour break, and then we meet for Happy Hour, followed by dinner with the cast. I sat at the table right next to Myron Natwick (Dr. Smyth). He told some great stories and I found out he grew up in West Seattle. I thought he was a very friendly and a sweet man.
Following dinner and dessert the committee showed a SMK blooper reel. It was funny and had us all in stitches. Then there was a Q&A session with the actors (the producers were unable to attend the dinner). Most questions seemed to be directed towards Bruce.
-He talked about Chuck, and how he thought Chuck was SMK in reverse, and when he mentioned this to the Chuck cast—they looked blankly at him. However, when the cast discovered he was Tron, they brought all their Tron stuff for him to sign!
-He talked about Kate and her fight with cancer and said he did not know about it at the time and how confused and concerned when the show was put on hold. Was she sick, was she being temperamental, holding out for more money? He honestly didn't know. And was surprised when Dennis told Bruce he knew. He also said the dreaded "C" word was not mentioned in Hollywood except by one man and that was John Wayne. (How much things have changed).
-He mentioned that Beverly was the "mothering" force on the set. She would walk in and say. "Oh good lord! What are you bickering about now?" He said that he and Kate would hang their head and apologize.
-Someone asked Bruce when he thought Lee began to fall in love with Amanda and he said--the episode when I carried her down the stairs and we all screamed "Service Above and Beyond." Yep—always knew it. He appeared confused when someone said that was season one. Anyway, I thought it was cute.
-He also said something that surprised me--he thought the writers took too long to get them together and when they finally did—no one cared. And we all yelled, "We cared!!"
-He talked about how difficult it is to do a 'near kiss' and make it look real.
This went on until Bruce had to leave to pick up his son, Michael. I talked individually with Bruce for a couple of moments—and asked if he would do a reunion movie. He said he would love to do a reunion movie—but had not talked to Katie in 20 years—since the last day of filming—it was good-bye—like see you tomorrow—the last thing she said to him. And said he would really like to meet her son some day. He sounded so sad, as if he had lost his best friend.
We all sat around and chatted for about another hour and then my 'roomies' and I went back to our room and watched SMK episodes until 2:00am in the morning. The following morning, after breakfast, I packed up and headed for home. It was a great weekend, and I had just as much fun meeting all my online friends, as I did the cast. The most disappointing news was that Beverly Garland (our beloved Dotty) is in a hospice and not doing well. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. Sadly, she passed away a few weeks later.
All in all, I had a great time and the trip and the reunion were both a dream come true.
A special thanks to Monica who made the wallpaper design.