Back in 2004, for some dumb reason I printed out my MySpace profile and glued it into a notebook. I don't know if I thought the bio I had drafted was particularly witty or if I just really liked the condensed "hobbies" I had listed. But I found it recently, and what stuck out the most was the section for "Who I'd Like To Meet." I'm sure it was supposed to mean who on MySpace you wanted to get to know, but for one thing, I never accepted anyone as my friend if I didn't already know them; I wasn't using the site as some sort of free Match.com or whatever. So I filled mine in with a list of celebrities (some dead, some alive, some I had oddly already met), and while I don't feel compelled to post it again for you here, I do think it is worth noting. I don't get starstruck, and there are very few people who I have been itching to meet in this business. From even before I started working in entertainment, there were only a handful of people I could have put on the list. And the thing is, a simple "Hey, how are you?" in passing isn't worth a whole lot. Not even snapping a picture means much if there isn't some kind of conversation behind it. Instead of simply meeting people, I wanted to get to know them. I wanted to sit down and have a (perhaps not fully heart-to-heart but still involved) conversation over a cup of coffee or a dinner. On occasion, that's exactly what I've gotten to do, first with peers who became friends when I was in production, and then as an interviewer, though admittedly those discussions tend to be less candid, as a recorder is usually running. There are still a handful who have never come my way, though, and for those, I would love to create one "Dinner for Five" type scenario, in which I could get all of my questions out over a nice, hearty meal.
Stephen King. If I could have dinner with only one famous person dead or alive, it would be Mr. King. His writing inspired my own years before I ever actually pursued it professionally. All "picking the published author's brain" aside, I just think he has lived a fascinating life-- from his struggles with addiction, to the height of his success, to the intricate tales he weaves and the themes he chooses to explore, to his professed desire to quit only to be seemingly unable to (that especially-- I want to know how much of that is his own creativity refusing to be stifled versus someone-- anyone, an agent, a publisher, his wife-- encouraging more, more, more. I want to know what he thinks of all of the adaptations and if he ever writes with the idea in mind that it might get adapted and therefore tweaks certain elements to make it more multi-medium friendly. I want to know how long he spends on research, if he gets distracted by all of the modern elements that take a writer's attention span away, why he never gives interviews that would give me something to reference, what he wants his final work to be, and by which work he wants to be most remembered. Seriously, I don't believe in paying thousands of dollars for a five minute meet and greet with a celebrity, but I think in this case I'd make an exception, even if only to get one or two of those questions answered!
Angelina Jolie. I don't care if she thinks about Jennifer Aniston; I don't care if she and Brad Pitt truly are the face of the new American couple now. I don't care about her previous marriages, or her knife-carrying phase, or her kissing her brother that one time. I don't care if she and Jon Voight are on better terms (well, I guess I care a little, but not enough to ask about it); I don't care how she picks her scripts. I want to hear about her charity work and the adoption process and why she hasn't written a follow-up to "Notes from My Travels" and if she'd ever write her own autobiography, rather than let the tabloids write one for her. I want to know what inspires her on a daily basis, because many times, in many ways, she has inspired me. I want to know what advice she gives young women, in this industry or not, who want to give back even in a fraction of the amount that she has.
Pamela Fryman. Once upon a time I thought I was going to be a director, and I looked at this woman's career and said 'How do I get that?' I no longer think I will direct professionally, though I still hold out hope that someday I'll get to do it for fun again, putting my money where my mouth is and finally producing a web series or a short based on my own work that no one else has yet to buy. And her career is still something of interest because there are (sadly) still so few female directors in general, let alone in television, and in the world of comedy television. She paved the way for those who are breaking in now, that's without a doubt, and she proved herself, for sure, and I want to hear all about who helped her get to where she is and who thought she could never do it.
Jonathan Larson. Yes, I know he has passed away, but believe me, when I go, he's one of the first people I'm looking up. If for nothing else, then to ask if he feels he should have been more specific if when he said all he wanted was to wake up everyday and write. And to ask if he approves of Christopher Columbus' film adaptation of his RENT or of the new Broadway, glitzy glam revival.
The final spot on my list is a toss up. Normally I would say Martin Luther King Jr because along similar lines as Larson, I would just love to know how else he planned to change the world if he had had the chance and what he thinks of where we are now. But I just finished reading "11/22/63" and I have to admit now I'm super curious about JFK. He as cut down in his prime, sure, but at a tumultuous time, when a lot of people felt he was doing wrong personally and for the country. I would love to pick his brain and see his ideas for the country, had he lived. Would things have been better or do we just look back on him with rose-colored glasses because it's bad to speak ill of the dead? No one's perfect, but these two held so much potential.