TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Cancelled VIP on-set visit leaves publicistfeeling Bushwhacked

At first I thought it was a hoax. Some dude on the phone was purporting to be, like, an ambassador or something, telling me two VIPs wanted to visit the set the following day and meet our Very Big Star. I can't reveal the name of the VBS, of course, due to confidentiality agreements. I would lose my job, and this column isn't enough to keep up the rent on my stylish van down by the river. (Which I just spruced up with some vintage black light posters, by the way. Very nice.) However, I can reveal the names of the VIPs. Later. First, you must suffer through the body of the column. And don't dare take a peek at the bottom of the page. We have an understanding here.

At first I thought it was a hoax. Some dude on the phone was purporting to be, like, an ambassador or something, telling me two VIPs wanted to visit the set the following day and meet our Very Big Star. I can't reveal the name of the VBS, of course, due to confidentiality agreements. I would lose my job, and this column isn't enough to keep up the rent on my stylish van down by the river. (Which I just spruced up with some vintage black light posters, by the way. Very nice.) However, I can reveal the names of the VIPs. Later. First, you must suffer through the body of the column. And don't dare take a peek at the bottom of the page. We have an understanding here.

It was not a hoax. He was, indeed, like, an ambassador or something.

Because his guests presented major security concerns, everyone on our set was asked to wear, for once, the ID badges issued weeks ago at the beginning of the production. I managed to find mine in a drawer next to some vitamin C pills and a ... well, never mind.

We were shooting a scene in a beautiful library set filled with lots and lots of, you know it, books. (For film industry types, "books are those things screenplays are so often based on. Sometimes they have pretty pictures in them.) Apparently, the VIPs wanted to meet the VBS after browsing this gorgeous library. Manageable, but not easy. Our day was packed, we were already behind schedule, and the set was crowded.

As a publicist, you sometimes (read: always) get stuck with the dirty jobs. Like telling an impatient director he has to play nice with guests.

And this director, whew, is a piece of work. He won't even let the producers sit next to him. But he surprisingly agreed to admit our visitors, and perhaps even let them watch the video monitor. Briefly.

I was told by the ambassador to expect a phone call the next morning to finalize details. Again, because of security concerns, the visit could not be prescheduled.

So there we were the next morning, freshly scrubbed and wearing our ugly ID badges. No word. Morning became afternoon, afternoon became late afternoon.

Finally, the call. Sorry, I was told. Their schedule was fully booked.

Won't happen.

Suddenly, everyone who had been out of joint about having to disrupt production for this visit was equally unhappy it wasn't going to happen.

The publicist, naturally, takes the blame.

It comes with the job, along with an ink jet printer, and a "kick me" placard.

Oh, the identity of the VIPs? I lied, I cannot tell you, but I will give you a little hint. They're the daughters of the "most powerful man on the planet. Or maybe the second, behind Michael Eisner.

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