Fans 'get smart' about paying tribute to classic show
By Amanda Haverstick, The News-Dispatch
Some folks go to Hollywood to ogle the stars on the Walk of Fame, but I had a bigger mission a few weekends ago, to attend an industry dinner with the cast and crew of "Get Smart" and meet friends I've never met face to face.
For those of you who've forgotten or never seen the show, "Get Smart" (1965-1970) was a spy spoof that put every sacred cow of the day out to pasture. Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, bureaucracy was the chief whipping boy.
Former stand-up comedian Don Adams starred as Maxwell
Smart, a bumbling, but well-meaning spy. His partner was the beautiful and
brainy Agent 99, played by the velvet-voiced Barbara Feldon. The two worked for
an organization named Control that kept enemy spy outfit Kaos at bay.
Despite infrequent syndication, the show's fans would not let gadgets like the shoe phone and cone of silence be forgotten. In 1995, an Internet list serve was organized by Carl Birkmeyer of Baltimore, known to our group as the "Chief." In those eight years, the list serve united "Smartians" from across the globe.
"The Get Smart Gathering" was born last year when Birkmeyer, Web master of "Get Smart's" biggest online fan base, www.wouldyoubelieve.com, decided it was time to let the show's creative talents know they were appreciated.
Two fans who knew the industry assisted Birkmeyer in his mission. Alan Spencer, creator of the TV series "Sledge Hammer!," helped line up the dinner at Barsac Brasserie, noted for feeding the likes of Steven Spielberg. Sue Kesler, a film editor of NBC's "American Dreams," put in a metric ton of work by locating the cast and persuading them to come.
Held Nov. 7, the "Get Smart Gathering" was not a convention with vendors selling comic books and fan boys pleading for autographs. It was a swanky Hollywood event. More so, it was a cast reunion, as some of the cast and crew had not seen each other since "Get Smart" was canceled.
Seats were assigned by lot, and I was lucky enough to be seated across from Don Adams and next to the show's producer, Leonard Stern, and his wife Gloria. Stern wrote for "The Honeymooners," helped create "Mad Libs" and "Get Smart's" memorable opening-door sequence.
The cast and crew were the nicest people. They were touched that we cared about their work and traveled across the country to be there.
"You came all the way from Indiana?" Don Adams asked me.
That was nothing. In addition to another Hoosier, one girl came from England, three men flew over from Australia and another fan came from China.
Table conversation often was not about the show. The occupants at Feldon's table discussed Shakespeare, the classics and their favorite novels.
Adams was intrigued by how fans who had never met could talk to each other like they had grown up together.
Amanda Haverstick (right) poses with fellow Get Smart fan Lisa Stiles, of Arizona, next to a cardboard cutout of Maxwell Smart.
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