Despite my intense aversion to traveling, I could not pass up the chance to attend a press junket for “Old School” and share oxygen with its star, comic genius Will Ferrell. Here, mostly unedited, is the diary of my adventures as an amateur coast-trotting entertainment journalist.
2:21 p.m.: After thirteen hours of miserable flights and a mind-numbing viewing of “The Tuxedo,” have finally arrived in L.A. Take in the palm trees, the sunglasses, and the winter heat. It is 91 degrees! Feel a tinge of pity for my friends trapped in New Haven, but it passes quickly. I love the West Coast!
2:37 p.m.: In a cab and already stuck in traffic on the dreaded 405 freeway. Since I lived in Lala Land this summer, the gridlock is a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Call my summer roommate to relive the good times.
3:44 p.m.: Still stuck in the traffic. Hate the heat, hate this city, hate this cabdriver. Hate everything that ever lived. Covered in sweat, my pen is slipping from my hand as I write. The cabdriver begins to mutter foreign obscenities under his breath. This is my cue to start yelling and pounding on the window.
4:10 p.m.: Arrive at hotel, only to discover that they’ve never heard of me. Walk four blocks to the correct hotel.
6:00 p.m.: Go to the special Dreamworks dinner for all the college paper writers attending the junket (there must be forty of us, plus a few Internet press). Take full advantage of the free food. At the next table, a group furiously debates which is the superior film, “Blade” or “Blade 2.” Take full advantage of the open bar.
7:30 p.m.: See “Old School.” It is very stupid, but it has a bunch of hyperventilate-and-pee-your-pants moments. (Later find out that the film’s stars, Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn, were in the back row watching the film with us.)
9:44 p.m.: A fellow junketeer invites me to join him at the Viper Room, because that was where River Phoenix died of a drug overdose. Back slowly, carefully away.
11:00 p.m.: Head to a karaoke bar called the Brass Monkey with friends from summer job.
12:17 a.m.: Combination of free Dreamworks bar and new bar equals me singing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Really, really wish I hadn’t.
11:00 a.m.: Wake-up guy calls me. Hazily fall out of bed. Realize I need to write questions to ask at the afternoon press conferences. Can’t think of a single goddamn question. Can’t even tie words together into a sentence. Try to decide if it’s the hangover or me or just L.A.
12:30 p.m.: Attend another Dreamworks event where they feed us. This time, they also hand out junket goody bags. Admire my new set of “Old School” drink coasters, my oversized “Old School” flip flops, and my flashy “Old School” bottle opener.
12:44 p.m.: Dreamworks honcho who organized the junket takes a seat at my table. He rambles on about how the film industry is a business, and anyone who says otherwise is kidding himself: “People may go on about the brilliance of Spike Jonze, but ‘Adaptation’ made what, like $12 million dollars?” Am kind of listening, but having trouble taking my eyes of his carefully groomed, bleached-blonde chin pubes.
2:03 p.m.: Now at the press conference room. Tensely awaiting the arrival of the movie stars. The whole setup is really impressive: cameras, lights, microphones, water pitchers, guacamole. I feel very professional.
2:08 p.m.: Ferrell, Wilson and Vaughn walk in and take their seats on the stage. Vaughn looks high, hungover, and pissed.
2:17 p.m.: After a few dull answers about who they think their characters are, the boys finally kick into gear. Ferrell describes his USC days, when he pretended to be a janitor and walked into his friends’ classrooms.
2:25 p.m.: Somebody asks all three: “What makes you laugh?” Dead silence. Finally, Wilson answers with “the little things in day-to-day life.” Don’t really know what he means. Vaughn responds that he laughs “when people are over-committed to things you find really stupid.” Know exactly what he means.
2:33 p.m.: Wilson talks about how he wanted them to shoot the movie “70s style,” meaning lots of booze and drugs and partying, but in the end, that didn’t happen. He says the closest they came was when Vaughn smoked up with Snoop Dogg (who has a cameo in the film).
2:36 p.m.: When asked if there was any tension on the set, Wilson says that Ferrell once referred to one of his films as “legally bland.” The look on Ferrell’s face is priceless.
2:41 p.m.: Someone asks Vaughn, who plays a dad in the film, if he himself wants to be a father some day. Vaughn responds that he is “excited about being a father, and I’ve been trying with lots of different woman.” He then wonders aloud if the woman who asked the question was doing anything later.
2:46 p.m.: Spill water on my groin. Real glad we’re sitting.
2:48 p.m.: When asked about his biggest regret, Ferrell says, without hesitation, that he wishes he “learned how to read. It makes choosing material really difficult.” I love Will Ferrell.
2:55 p.m.: The stars have left, and director Todd Phillips, most notable for “Road Trip,” is ushered in. Too shy to speak during the first press conference, I ask the first question at this one. I want to know why Leah Remini, of “King of Queens” fame, had such a minute role in the film (she plays Vaughn’s wife). Phillips says Remini is a friend who agreed to the small role from the beginning; it wasn’t cut down or anything. Realize I just asked a really horrible first question.
3:16 p.m.: Chris Rock arrives to do a press conference promoting his upcoming directorial debut, “Head of State.” We only saw a preview of the film, though. Wonder what kind of questions people will ask.
3:19 p.m.: Get my answer when someone asks Rock what he thinks of “all the stuff with Iraq.” He answers that he is just a comedian.
3:37 p.m.: Ask Rock when we can expect his next HBO stand-up special. He thinks for a moment, and then says, “I guess it is time for another special.” So when it airs, I am personally responsible for its fruition.
3:46 p.m.: A fellow student journalist is asking a question with no question. He rambles on about how Rock’s films are “two hours of pure entertainment.” He refers to him a couple times as “America’s funnyman.” Me, Rock, and everyone else close our eyes and weather the storm.
4:06 p.m.: With the Rock press conference over, we are led two floors down to where the “Old School” stars are doing television press. We are told we will get pictures with the stars. I take this to mean we will be in the picture with them. I am wrong. I stand, very eagerly, at the front of the group. By the time I realize that we will be taking pictures of the stars, it is too late. Camera-less, I stand with my thumbs up my butt as flashes go off around me.
8:47 p.m.: Settle into my hotel room and rack up an enormous food bill (Dreamworks is paying for everything). Mmm, $10 cheesecake is good!
6:44 p.m.: Arrive back at Yale, trudge up my entryway, and throw myself on my bed. Never been more tired, and my back feels like its been stuck with a million rusty screws. If the trip to L.A. was painful, the trip home will go down in the annals of horrible airplane travesties: lost wallet, almost missed both flights, endured the musical ambitions of an accordion-playing pilot, and listened to a lady resembling the “this house is clear” woman from “Poltergeist” bitch about her ex-husband. But am very glad I went. Will Ferrell made it worthwhile.