July 14, 2006
That oft-quoted line from the original Clerks seems like an especially cheap, if not downright cheesy and tired, way to start off this article, but it applied all too appropriately to my experience at the big Hollywood premiere of Clerks II at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome on Tuesday, July 11. I found out about the event at just about the last possible minute, and as such Kevin Smith, his trusty assistant Gail Stanley, nor longtime reader and Clerks star Brian O’Halloran were able to help me out as all of their allotted tickets had long been used up. After I had resigned myself to not being able to attend, earlier in the day at the film’s press junket I found an unlikely savior: Jeff Anderson. While I had seen the portrayer of “evil incarnate” (as O’Halloran’s Dante Hicks calls him in Clerks II) Randal Graves in person at a number of View Askew-related events over the years, I had never actually formally met him prior to the roundtables. But after overhearing O’Halloran’s disappointment at my projected non-attendance, Anderson quickly offered me a couple of tickets he could spare due to a guest cancellation. Thank Alanis for Jeff Anderson.
Twelve years have passed since the original Clerks was released, and the changes that have occurred during that dozen-year span became readily apparent upon arrival at the Dome a full ninety minutes before the scheduled 7:30pm start time. A number of fans and autograph hounds had already been waiting in the fan pit along the curb on Sunset Boulevard, bearing signs and posters and various memorabilia; hordes of still photographers and television media were waiting in line to get into their carpet-side positions. While those may not be unusual sights at any movie premiere gala, it is still a bit of a kick to see that typical hype circus surround this film, a still-modestly-budgeted, fairly low-star-wattage sequel to a micro-budget, black-and-white indie talk fest. It’s disappointing that the main marquee (trumpeting the Dome’s current regular tenant, A Scanner Darkly) was not adjusted to sport the Clerks II logo — or better yet, the poster images of Dante, Randal, and Jay and Silent Bob — to make the irony complete.
But this being “View Askew,” while this event easily was the most typically “Hollywood” of the Kevin Smith premiere events I have attended (1999’s Dogma event and 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back bash) in terms of location, size, and flair, there was a little twist. The quickly-filled Dome lobby was convincing visual evidence of the overbooked guest list, but the crowd was not heavily filled with famewhoring C- and D-listers who snagged a ticket hook-up by way of aggressive publicists; most of the faces were that of less-recognizable crew, cast, View Askew staffers, and friends. As trippy as it was to witness a sequel to Clerks to get a glitzy event treatment, it was fitting and refreshing to see that the capacity audience was no parade of party-hopping Us Weekly glamazons.
Thus this grandiose affair also had the air of a family one. The recognizable faces on hand were largely confined to the principal cast–O’Halloran, Anderson, Smith, Jason Mewes (Jay), Rosario Dawson (Becky), Jennifer Schwalbach (Emma), and Trevor Fehrman (Elias)–and the smaller supporting and cameo players: Jason Lee, Earthquake, Kevin Weisman, Zak Knutson, Jake Richardson, and young Harley Quinn Smith. Askew film alumni Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, and Dwight Ewell were also spotted on hand, as well as a few familiar to the Askew faithful: Stanley, Bryan Johnson, Brian Lynch, and webmaster extraordinaire Ming Chen. Just prior to showtime (which was the premiere-standard 20-25 minutes later than the scheduled start), Smith made his customary introductory remarks, but he was decidedly less verbose than usual–perhaps due to the fact that he had spent the whole earlier part of the day giving interviews. Instead of a long speech, he called up the main cast members to join him at the front of the theatre to get their due applause — again adding to the family atmosphere to the event.
However, when the film was over and the scene shifted a few blocks up Vine Street for the afterparty at Avalon, such an atmosphere disappeared, and Askew-ed Hollywood made way for typical Hollywood. The Dogma and Jay and Bob afterparties forewent the usual tack of taking place at a trendy club spot (the former at the restaurant Dominick’s; the latter at a converted parking lot), but despite some effort to bring some specialized flavor to the event — still shots of New Jersey and various residents continuously flashed on a large screen; bartenders and waiters wearing Mooby’s employee garb — it felt more like a typical club scene than a premiere afterevent, much less a View Askew one. Some more random faces started to show up (including Cuba Gooding Jr.), and while Dawson, Mewes, and Lee’s assigned, dance floor-close tables were fairly open (and dancin’ Dawson made herself very accessible to anyone), party organizers placed the other talent tables literally behind that proverbial velvet rope, with a security guard controlling — or, more appropriately, restricting — access to Smith’s booth. But perhaps the most Hollywood of all was how the food (mini burgers served in those cardboard Chinese food boxes) was made available only to those at those VIP tables. No open buffet or anything for the regular folk; they were left to starve and pay a cool four bucks a pop for a mere bottle of water. It truly has been twelve long years since that modest little do-it-yourself movie first started a buzz.
The previous Thursday evening, July 6, I made a quick stop (yes, bad pun) by Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash West to check out the Richard Kelly and Kevin Smith Southland Tales/Clerks II signing event. Since Mr. Big Boss Smith gets his fair share of coverage on this (see above) and his veritable network of sites, I thought I’d give Mr. Kelly his due moment in the spotlight as he unleashes his smooth “chin-up” look for my camera:
Special thanks to Richard Kelly, Kevin Smith, and Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.
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