Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Stars Get In My Eyes
Hallmark Channel productions had come in and overtaken our building. There were cables, electrical cords, spotlights, scaffolding, props and extras everywhere. The rotunda was minus the busts of Georgia's founding fathers and had, instead, been turned into Grand Central Station, literally, only they called it Union Station. Production crew members rushed around doing their jobs. The icon director's chairs were just off the set in front of the Governor's office. And yes, they really do have the actors' names embroidered on the canvas panels on the backs.
The movie's title will be "The Lost Valentine" (or is it "The LAST Valentine"?) and the stars of the movie are none other than Jennifer Love Hewitt and the wonderful Betty White. For three days, our staff was allowed fairly close viewing of the filming. We watched the director set up the shots, give direction to her actors, and learned from friendly crew members what a "grip" does or what exactly is a "gaffer." We stepped over cables and watched extras go in and out of scenes with the prompting of the crew just off camera. It was amazing how much access we had to the sets. Some of us were lucky enough to be at the right time and the right place to experience movie making from up close and personal. But of course, the biggest draw was getting close to the stars, Ms. White and Ms. Hewitt. It seemed staff members were always watching. In the morning, in the afternoon, at end of business hours, you could find some of us enjoying the experience. It was if we were addicted! I will admit it, my colleagues and I were almost stalkers! On Friday afternoon I left the Capitol with the tinsel of Hollywood still luring me to catch a glimpse of stardom.
Now don't get me wrong. It was all so nice and fun and wonderfully exciting. But I couldn't help but ponder why I acted so, what drove me to strive to get as close as I could to these two women. After all, the actors were doing their jobs, and from what I could tell from the endless re-shoots and the retouching up of makeup and hair, it is a pretty boring job. Days and days of work for what I understand may only cover 2 minutes of the movie - TOTAL! Yes, they are talented and yes, they are pleasant to look at. And they get paid well in relation to the importance (or lack thereof) of their jobs.
It comes down to what we hold in high esteem and whom we place in positions of value in our society. Erma Bombeck once said about fame, ""Don't confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other." Did people gush over Dr. Jonas Salk when he stopped polio? Do we even know the names or celebrate those who devote their lives to research and inventions that have given us the best medical system in the world and the highest standard of living in the history of mankind? When we see a uniformed soldier on the street, do we throng to thank him or her for serving for us and protecting our freedoms? The farmers that make us The Bread Basket of the World? Those that are fighting to end breast cancer and AIDS and diabetes and Sudden Infant Death? Autism therapists that spend countless hours trying to unlock a young child's mind? Those that take care of our elderly when we are unable to or won't? All we have to do is recall the contrast between the death of Mother Teresa and Princess Diana to see how we value celebrity over real service and worth.
"If only the sundrenched celebrities are being noticed and worshiped, then our children are going to have a tough time seeing the value in the shadows, where the thinkers, probers and scientists are keeping society together." ~ Rita Dove
The Capitol is quiet once again this week. The glimmer and glitz removed. Things are back to normal. And, yes, I will thoroughly enjoy seeing "The Lost Valentine" when it premiers, although I will feel a little sheepish in remembering how I acted this past week. What I will take with me are the thoughts I need to convey to my grandchildren - that there is worth in hard work and service. Fame is not a virtue; character is. Money is not related to happiness. Unsung heroes walk amongst us every day. We need to celebrate that.