Okay, so this post is about Good Morning America and Josh Elliott. I know, I know. And I understand if you skip it entirely if you care about neither. Go ahead, skip. I’ll wait for you to go.
Still here? All right, then.
This has been a weird week. Regular readers of this blog know that I LOVE Josh Elliott, the newsreader for Good Morning America. Truth: this was not always the case. (Sorry, Josh, if you are reading this: but I know you appreciate honesty!) When he first came on the show, about three years ago, it was to replace Juju Chang, and I adore her. She’s the reason I first got into the GMA studio (she’s friends with my agent) and has just been SO kind to me. I can totally remember the morning I was at the beach with my family, and there’s this new guy instead of Juju. I was like, “Who is THAT? He looks like he just did a keg stand!” (I TOLD you I was going to be honest!) But my babysitter at the time, Amanda, just smiled. “He’s cute!” she said. “I like him!” I was not convinced. Yet.
Then, however, Amanda went to NYC for vacation. She decided to go stand outside GMA at the Times Square Studio. Because I’m a Twitter addict (sad, but true) I thought it was worth a shot to tweet at this new guy and ask him to come out and take a picture with her. And he DID. Not only that, he sent me a sweet tweet back saying he hoped I’d post it. Okay, I’ll admit it: I was kind of charmed.
As I kept watching the show, I liked Josh more and more. First, he had a daughter about the age of mine, and they both loved Sesame Street and Disney princesses. He was funny and self-deprecating, serious when he had to be, willing to be goofy when he didn’t. He was REAL, which is what I love about GMA, because all their hosts are. You WANT to have your coffee with them each morning, because they seem not THAT different from you, even though you know they probably are. But Josh—and Sam Champion, his bud—you felt like you knew them. Sam was a teen model and adored his husband; Josh loved sports, cooking, In-N-Out burgers and would do just about anything for a laugh. When they cracked up together, it wasn’t faked. You could just TELL.
The first time I went to NYC after tweeting with Josh, I bumped into him at the Starbucks down from the studio. He was zipping in for a coffee and I was just getting mine. He looked at me, and I totally freaked. I got nervous and furtive, averting my eyes. He went back to the studio, and I tweeted about how I’d made such a jerk of myself. He immediately razzed me about it, saying I blew him off. But then he got me in, and made sure the sign I’d brought got on air.
From that point on, it was like we were friends. We tweeted each other, and I watched faithfully. Our daughters started kindergarten at the same time, and we both suffered through that first day, breaths held. Every time I went to New York, I stood outside the studio, and when I got in, we got to say hello. Those are some of my best fangirl memories EVER.
It was after THIS picture was taken that Josh said to me, “I will get your next book on the air. I promise.” I never asked him to do that. He just offered! I was on GMA Live, the webcast after the show, the day THE MOON AND MORE was released. You can see the clip here. Seriously, that was more than I ever would have expected: he owed me nothing. But a couple of months later, he had me in-studio for their Guess Who’s Coming for Breakfast segment. It was a dream come true. I mean, COME ON!
During this experience, I got to meet Josh’s producer, Rich, who I also loved. He came to my house at 4am and was there with his camera crew for our morning chaos. I was nervous, and would not let just anyone do that! But it was an honor. Seriously.
All of this is a LONG way of saying that Sunday night when I saw (on Twitter, naturally) that Josh was leaving GMA, I was in shock. I just sat here, speechless. Now, I know how big business works. I mean, I’m in publishing. Contract negotiations can be RUTHLESS (I am afraid of my own agent, Leigh, because she is very good at them. Lucky for me! We are like good cop, bad cop.). But it just took my breath away that not only was Josh leaving, but he wouldn’t even be back to say goodbye. On Thursday, they ran a very sweet clip piece, but that was it. The end.
I don’t want to get into the politics of this. I’m a viewer and I will always love GMA and it’s not my place. But I will say this: we, as the fans? He was special to us. I’ll also say that every time I was at the Times Square studio, Josh stayed AFTER the taping was done to pose for pictures and meet fans outside. Not just once. Every. Single. Time. I wish him the best of luck, and I’ll follow him wherever he goes, while still watching GMA each day. I can’t pick between them. It’s not fair. I guess nothing is. But we will miss you, Josh. Know that. And thanks, for everything.
Okay, so yes: this happened. On Wednesday night, in L.A. It REALLY did! I know, I still can’t quite believe it myself. Let me back up and explain.
So a few weeks back, I was over in my office when I got a Kickstarter update from Rob Thomas about the Veronica Mars movie. Longtime readers of this blog know that I have loved the show FOREVER, all the way back to when it was on TV. I was thrilled when I (and so many others) were able to help be a part of giving the series the ending it deserved by supporting the movie. This particular update was about a contest through Omaze, which puts together what they call celebrity “experiences.” (Regular readers of this blog will also understand why this caught my eye, as I am such a pop culture nerd.) Anyway, the upshot of the contest was that the winner got to be Kristen Bell’s date for the LA premiere. You could buy chances and all the money went to support PATH, an organization that helps the homeless. A good deed AND a chance to meet K-Bell? I was in. I will not reveal how many chances I bought, but it was, um, quite a few.
Fast forward a couple of weeks to this past Sunday. We’d just gotten back power, which we’d lost on Friday morning, and I was cleaning my house and making bean salad for a cookout that evening. My phone lit up with an email, so I grabbed it. It was Kay from Omaze, saying I was a finalist in the Veronica Mars/Kristen Bell experience, and was I available for a Skype interview that evening? Um, YES. So a couple of hours later, after serving said bean salad and supervising my daughter making S’mores, I headed over to my office for the interview. I was asked my age, what I did for a living, why I loved Veronica Mars and what I’d do if I won. I gushed, I fangirled, I answered in run-on sentences. I mean, you guys know me. And then, when I finally shut up, they told me I was the winner.
WHAAAAAAAAAAT? I was speechless. Amazed. I got a few details, ended the call, then ran over to the house, where my husband was reading bedtime books to my daughter. I said, “I won!” He said, “WHAAAAAAT?” And then we both busted out laughing. My kid, who is used to us acting stupid for no apparent reason, asked if he’d get back to reading the book. Priorities.
So that was late Sunday. I had to leave SUPER early Wednesday for the premiere that evening. As much as my husband wanted to come (who wouldn’t?) we knew there was no way to line up adequate childcare on such short notice. Even if we WERE able to patch something together, he pointed out, we’d both be so nervous about it we wouldn’t really enjoy ourselves, so I should just go and let him stay and hold down the fort. I have mentioned the awesomeness of my husband many times before. But this just clinches it for good.
I still had a my plus one, though, so I thought about who I knew that really loved the show. My cousin Anna was the first person who came to mind. She had JUST finished watching all three seasons (on my recommendation/order), already had her pre-bought ticket for today’s release in Austin, where she lives, and I knew she’d have a blast. I called her, filled her in, and after screaming a bit, she said she was in. And we were ON.
Wednesday morning, I got up at 3:15am, then left my house at 4 to go to the airport. By noon L.A. time, I was in a cab on the way to the hotel in Hollywood. WHOA! It was starting to feel kind of real, sort of. I met Anna at the hotel, and we shrieked and jumped around and basically made total nerds of ourselves in front of the Very Cool Hotel Staff and Patrons. Whatever. Then we headed off to get our makeup done at a nearby Sephora. Props to the girl who did mine: I’m writing this 48 hours later after three hardcore face-washings, and I STILL have eyeliner on. Impressive.
We were told to be in front of the hotel promptly at 5pm. At this point, we weren’t really sure exactly what the prize entailed. I mean, it said I would be Kristen Bell’s date and we’d attend the premiere together, but I didn’t actually think that would happen. I mean, this is KRISTEN BELL. She is VERONICA MARS and PRINCESS ANNA from Frozen. I was betting we’d meet her in a room, shake hands, get a picture, and be sent on our way. But then Erika, from Omaze, showed up with a car and told us to get in. We did, and my cousin Anna asked, “Um, where are we going?” Erika turned around to look at us and said, “To pick up Kristen.”
Y’all. Seriously. We went to a HOUSE and sat by a gate and then about ten minutes later there was Kristen Bell, in a gorgeous pink dress, sliding into the seat beside me. She had some green tea in a bottle, a cute purse she showed us (“Snacks!” she announced, displaying munchies she’d brought along) and was just as kind and lovely and real as you hope she would be. We were trying to be cool. I am not SURE we succeeded. The entire drive there, while we talked about the show, and how grateful she is to the fans, and so many other topics (her kid, my kid, her dogs, my dogs, chickens, Frozen, etc) it was like I was outside of my body, watching the entire thing from a distance. SO crazy cool. She signed a Frozen book for my daughter (props to Anna, for thinking to bring one) and posed for some pictures and then we were pulling up to the red carpet. They opened the door, she got out, and the crowd all around us screamed. Oh, my God.
Anna and I watched her get her picture taken, like, a million times, and then go over and talk to fans. Meanwhile, a very nice guy from Warner Brothers welcomed us, gave us our tickets for the movie and afterparty, and Anna and I got our picture taken on the red carpet. Whoa.
After that, our new friend from Warner Brothers pointed out OH so casually that Jason Dohring had just pulled up. I looked over and sure enough, there he was. I might have gasped. (Okay, I did.) But that was nothing compared to when he came over and met us. “This is our contest winner,” Erika from Omaze said, and he grinned, said hello, and then HUGGED ME, KISSED MY CHEEK AND PICKED ME UP AND SWUNG ME AROUND. I am not kidding. I do not have a picture (I wish!) because it all happened so fast and anyway I was about to pass out from the excitement. He was gorgeous (of course) but also sweet and charming and so gracious. I am not making this up, people. Also, his wife is lovely and beautiful, which SORT of made me feel bad about how happy I was whenever he touched me. Sort of.
(This was after the spin-hug. That’s his wife behind us, in the pink. Okay, I do feel kind of bad. But: sa-woon!)
Then we were hustled along the red carpet for a group picture. In my wildest dreams, NEVER EVER EVER, did I think I would be a part of something like this. I mean, LOOK!
I honestly squeal each time I see this. And I may have looked at it, um, a lot.
We watched the rest of the cast arrivals (Wallace! Mac! Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin!) and then went inside to get our seats. Now, again, I wasn’t expecting to actually sit with Kristen Bell. But when we made our way down the aisle, looking for our spot, I heard someone say, “Ladies, right here!” It was Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell’s HUSBAND. OH my God. The seating was this: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, ME, ANNA, Jason Dohring and his wife. I was about to watch the Veronica Mars movie with Veronica and Logan on either side of me. HOLY SHIT. (Excuse my language. Or don’t. Sometimes, you just need an expletive.) The lights went down, and the movie began. Entire crowd screamed and applauded. It felt like a dream.
I have been looking forward to this movie SO MUCH. But honestly, it was kind of hard to concentrate, since I had Kristen Bell beside me eating a pretzel, which she then offered to share with me. I said no, too nervous to accept, so then she leaned across and asked Anna, who took a bite, and I was like, “I can’t believe you just took some of Kristen Bell’s pretzel!” When she offered again, I said yes. (It was a really good pretzel, BTW.) Finally I was able to lose myself in the movie, except for the few times when she leaned over to tell me something. “We filmed this at 3:30am,” she whispered at one point. “I fell asleep during one take. We have it on film.” When Dax Shepard’s cameo came on, they both giggled and whooped. I was DYING. But the best was during one part with Veronica and Logan (no spoilers from me) when I looked to my left, and there was Kristen with her pretzel. Then I looked to my right, and there was Anna with Jason Dohring beside her. I leaned over to Anna and said into her ear, “I am freaking the f**k out right now.” She nodded. (Again, sorry for the cursing. I just can’t help it.)
I loved the movie. That’s all I’ll say, because I don’t want to give details. Kristen had snuck out a few minutes before it ended to change for the afterparty, but when the lights came on and everyone started getting up, I was just sitting there when Jason Dohring CAME OVER and plopped down in the empty seat beside me. “What’d you think?” he asked. I told him it was just what I wanted, which is the truth, and then we talked a bit about it AND watched the after the credit bonus parts (yes!) together. (I am not making this up, I swear, even though as I am writing it, it FEELS like I must be.) Then we left, and got into the car, and headed to the afterparty.
It was SO fun, packed with people involved with the movie and supercool Kickstarter backers and the cast mingling around taking pictures with anyone who wanted one. They had a photo booth set up at the front and Kristen Bell, bless her heart, took pictures for the entire THREE HOURS of the event, after doing a hour of red carpet stuff beforehand. I know she was exhausted (I was exhausted!) but she was cheerful and gracious and amazing. We were ones of the last to get a couple of shots before they finally shut the line down and let her go home to her baby.
Also at the afterparty, I got to tell Rob Thomas, who created the show and wrote and directed the movie, how much I loved it.
I look SO dorky in these pictures. I am not good at acting cool. Clearly.
At the party, I also bumped into Jason Dohring again. This time, he caressed my cheek. I mean, COME ON!
We also got a picture with Dax Shepard:
AND I got to meet Martin Starr, aka Bill Haverchuck from Freaks and Geeks. When I showed these pictures to my husband, he was impressed with all of them. But Bill Haverchuck? That put him in AWE.
And then, somehow, it was midnight and things were wrapping up. We thanked Erika from Omaze, went back to our hotel, ordered some burgers and onion rings and tried to process everything that happened. We were still trying to do that the next morning, when Anna drove me to the airport to fly home. We just kept looking at each other and saying, “Wait, that happened?” and then freaking out all over again. But it DID happen, and I loved every second, and I cannot thank Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring and everyone at Omaze for giving us truly the experience of a lifetime. I honestly will never make my bean salad again (and I make it a lot, especially in summer) without thinking about how your wildest dreams CAN come true when you are least expecting it. And who doesn’t love that?
Tonight, I’ll watch the movie again with my husband, who is awesome. I might even share a pretzel with him. I’m exhausted today (to go to L.A for 24 hours is WILD) and have groceries to buy, chickens to feed, things to do. Life is so crazy. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have a great day, everyone!