I’m going to be on @jayleno Friday night, my 22nd time they tell me…crazy huh? I enjoy it, he’s a good fella who loves to entertain folks ~ Russell on Twitter.
My time as a Russell Crowe fan is intrinsically tied to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno tapings at Burbank Studios. With the exception of surprise or satellite appearances I was present for most of the tapings since 2000.
I was in Austin, Texas to see Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts in August 2001 and so could not attend the show that taped the same day. After the band played at Stubbs, my friend and I returned to our hotel to watch the band again – this time on the Tonight Show. They had taped the show in Burbank before flying to Texas.
Jay’s move to a bigger studio in 2010, still on the Burbank Studios lot, brought the convenience to request tickets online, arrive early afternoon, and be guided in an orderly manner to a waiting area protected from wind and rain if not heat. It was not always so. In the early years, fans concocted a system that required at least two people in your party – one to camp out at the ticket window and the other to hold a place in line by the front door of the studio. Those who came before dawn often brought sleeping bags and lawn chairs. Turf skirmishes over who got there first or who had what spot on the cement planter were resolved with a political savvy surpassing most of our elected representatives.
Izzy and me
November 2003 was particularly cold and wet, in sync with the Master and Commander promotion, but the hilarious show with Steve Irwin, the crocodiles and Russell holding up that giant snake more than made up for it.
Seating location is always unpredictable. I have sat near the floor, near the ceiling and all points in between. I learned not to stress about it because what seems a perfect seat may end up obscured by a huge camera arm. So then you watch the monitors. Once I was unhappy with my seat up in the nosebleed section but I ended up with a clear view of Russell dancing with wee Charlie backstage. I’ve had fun every time. And the house band is always outstanding.
Perhaps the best thing about seeing the Tonight Show live is the bits during the commercials that don’t show up on the broadcast. In early years Russell would get up, walk to the edge of the stage, look into the crowd and maybe offer a little finger wave back at the excited fans. Last week he went one better. At the commercial he came into the audience grinning with mischief and proffering a skewer of roasted cicadas, courtesy of another show guest. Finding few takers near the floor, he climbed higher and when he got to the railing, looked up. He pointed at me, and then at the skewer with a wordless command. I shook my head no and slunk into my seat. He pointed again and nodded, firmly. Yes. I came down the stairs and gingerly pulled the large, cooked bug off the skewer. “Only for you,” I told him.
I did not eat it. After all, he refused to eat one. I folded it into a gum wrapper and carefully put it in my purse. When I got home I took its photo since it’s easily my weirdest souvenir, and then composted it into my geraniums.
Years ago a few fans began to queue along the driveway after the show to wave as Jay left – always in a different, equally impressive car or on a motorcycle. Then we’d wait for Russell’s car and holler hello and wave madly. Imagine our shock when Russell, after the Cinderella Man appearance in 2005, didn’t just wave, he stopped, rolled down the window and began signing autographs.
After awhile I chose to say hello or ask a question instead. I mean, really, how many autographs does anyone need? Sometimes I got an answer, like when I asked about his horse in 3:10 to Yuma. That was a winner! His eyes lit up and he rattled off Ribbon’s name, height, type of horse and behavior during filming. I was so surprised that all those details promptly fell out of my head and I got it wrong, embarrassingly, hopelessly wrong. Another time I asked how many dates the band would play after he’d hinted about a tour (that sadly did not happen). His brows shot up and he said in mock indignation, “I’m not telling you that!” Then he smiled.
More people learned that Russell Crowe stops to sign things after the Tonight Show. Keith, Bruno, Mickey and who ever was working security were enlisted to get people to calm down and line up orderly. By the time he got his star on the Walk of Fame (which Jay Leno helped host) there was a huge mob of fans and autograph sellers waiting by the driveway.
Now he’s started getting out of the car. He brought Owen and Moley to serenade us. Sometimes the crowd behaves well and sometimes not but still Russell stops and tries to please us all. Can you think of another legend who does this?
My kids were little when I went to those first shows, and I relied on my mom to get them to and from school while I camped out at the Burbank studios. The day after this year’s Academy Awards I was able to bring my daughter Kathryn. She’s nearly grown now and wanted to see the show and hopefully meet Russell. My mother is a fan as well and attended this last time with me. Gracious as always, he made time to say hello to them both. They were tickled and had a terrific time at the show.
I really look forward to these little adventures and it makes me sad they are coming to an end with Jay retiring and the show moving to New York. I hope Jay enjoys retirement. Many of us have great memories of attending his shows and watching at home, or even in a motel in Austin.
This is Estela having her pic taken with Russell last Friday. She is also a veteran of many Tonight Show tapings. She appears in a video futher down the page as well.
Russell signs for the fans while Keith and Bruno look on.
This is captioned “on our way” on Russell’s twitter.
We saw the cameras set up outside to film (in order) Russell, Michael Buie, Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes and Keith Rodger’s arrival.
Kevin Durand and Scott Grimes after the show.
The reaction when I asked about any future Garden Party (In or Outdoor) plans. No comment, Scott points at Russell.