I can’t remember the last time I was behind a velvet rope to cover a star-studded event like the March 26 preview screening of “Noah” in midtown Manhattan with virtually all of the stars and other important personages in the Hollywood firmament.
I certainly can’t remember standing behind a rope line like that described above for two-and-a-half hours in bone-chilling cold. Sure, I wore a topcoat over my suit and had my cotton driving gloves on, and there was a tent to shield the stars and their red carpet, but there weren’t any heaters on my side of the tent, that’s for sure.
With aluminum police-style barricades mere inches from the rope stanchions, and with the spot for each journalist’s news outlet taped onto the carpeting (so you literally knew exactly where you stood in the reportorial food chain), we reporters were more like puppies at the pound hoping for attention from someone. Anyone. And we might’ve gotten some, too, if our spots weren’t so close to the theater entrance. I pity the journalist who did several takes of his opening lines, including about the stars he was expecting to interview. I don’t remember seeing a single one of them approach him.
There was the occasional uptick in the decibel level when a stretch limo slowed in front of the theater, or an actor entered the tent from the side opposite from where I was standing. But most my time was spent rehearsing in my mind the questions I hoped I would ask but never got the chance to.
When not rehearsing, I chatted with other frozen-out reporters, and remembered Bill Cosby’s terrific take on the Noah story in his very first comedy album, “Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow … Right!” In the bit, now 50 years old, Cosby not only played God (speaking in a lower register and moving the microphone closer to your mouth will do the trick), but also the put-upon Noah.
Cosby’s Noah said “… Right!” every time he thought God (or somebody) was trying to put one over on him. After one instruction from God, Cosby responds, “… Right! … Am I on ‘Candid Camera’?” In another, after God delivers precise instructions for building the ark, Cosby answers, ” … Right! … What’s a cubit?”
The noise increased as the big stars get closer but never within reach. Some actors have developed relationships with such journalistic outlets as Teen Vogue and would rather answer questions about the do’s and don’ts of throwing parties, or who made their gown for the evening. On the other hand, trying to conduct a civilized conversation in these conditions can be a stretch even if both parties were so inclined.
Inside the theater, “Noah” director, co-writer and co-producer Darren Aronofsky tells the full house the story of his seventh-grade teacher, Mrs. Vera Fried, and her assignment to her entire class at Mark Twain Middle School on Coney Island to write something about peace. Aronofsky wrote a poem, “The Dove,” that Mrs. Fried liked so much that she entered it into a contest. And it won! Aronofsky’s prize, such as it was, was to recite the poem over the PA system at the school.
Noah was a central character in “The Dove,” he said, and “Noah” the film in a way represented his coming full circle with that episode in his life. The circle got more complete when he summoned Mrs. Fried from her seat and made her recite his poem before the movie began.
Now it’s your turn to grab some popcorn and determine for yourself how well Aronofsky did in transforming two pages from the Book of Genesis into a two-hour and 16-minute film.