The Get Smart Gathering: Meeting the Stars
A party can't get started without getting the party favors there first and that's how Friday afternoon was spent. As Jodi and I were waiting in the lobby for Sue to arrive (we had all been drafted to help haul stuff to Barsac Brasserie) Barb from Indianapolis walked in and made her way to the front desk. Jodi & I looked at each other thinking, "Is that Barb?" From the picture she had sent, I felt sure it was. Jodi pondered how to greet her and I suggested saying "New York Mets win double header" -Maxwell Smart's line to 99 in the pilot of Get Smart. That worked out well and off we went to Sue's.
Sue helped organized the Gathering on the Hollywood end by, among other things, contacting those involved with the show. That afternoon she showed us her beautiful Sunbeam --a replica of the car used in Get Smart. It's a shiny happy little car -signed by Don & Barbara. We then helped move party favors and a TV to Barsac. After all was moved and in place we chatted for a bit in the parking lot. Sue, having more to do, went on her way while we waited for Carl the Great to arrive. Sue had mentioned that he was on his way and, none of us having ever met him, didn't want to miss the chance for pre-dinner chit-chat.
Carl wasn't there, and Carl wasn't there, and he wasn't there some more. The realization then came to me that I was wearing a T-shirt in Hollywood while Michigan City was likely under a snow watch. For the heck of it I called St. Anthony's Weatherline to get Michigan City's time and temp -38 degrees! HA!
After bit Carl came out of the restaurant and announced that he'd been there for 20 minutes. Carrrrllll!!!! He was pretty pumped -and how could a person not be when the dinner of a lifetime is only three hours away.
We all went back to the Holiday Inn to get gussied up for the dinner. I was most pleased that I did not put a run in my nylons as that is an unfortunate tradition of mine. I watched a bit of the Producers -a nice precursor to a Get Smart dinner. Too bad Mel Brooks wasn't coming. Barb visited after bit & we shared pictures of our loved ones.
It was kind of cool that evening as we rode to Barsac -amazing how the temp dropped. Fellow newsman and GS Chatter Mike joined us for the ride. There was a bit of waiting outside the restaurant once we got there. A few people were ahead of us inline and I wondered which of them were list members. The first person I recognized was Gina, who was wearing her letter jacket. Curious about the dinner set up, I tried peering though the shaded window only to find Gary Nelson's seat.
Someone finally decided to have mercy and let us in (it was probably 45 degrees out there, which isn't pleasant without a jacket) and I found the place pretty swank. There were fancy tables and fancy waiters. Now, I've gone into fine dining establishments before, but never to eat. As a biz reporter, I get to look in at everything through the picture window and the back door. Just as I was adjusting to the place a waiter popped up and asked if I wanted a drink. I opened a tab and ordered a diet coke -no I'm not getting drunk in front of all of Hollywood.
Surprises continued as I searched for my table. Someone called out and said hey Amanda, you're sitting over here next to Mrs. Leonard Stern. That's cool, I thought, if I'm next to the Mrs., then the Mr. should be right beside her. How high up the social ladder can you get? Now I'm not sure who found it first... it was either Jodi or me... I'm not sure... but it was discovered that Don Adams was also sitting at our table. I had a nice little spastic fit.
After that was out of my system I began to ponder what I would say to Don Adams. I found out later that wouldn't matter as the noise level was to high. Don's very hard of hearing and I have one of these soft deep voices so I figured nodding and smiling would have to do.
The waiters started offering hors d'oeuvres. When was I ever offered a stuffed mushroom by a waiter? I mean I've had stuffed mushrooms at The Strongbow in Valpo after commencement, but I had to fight a heard of wild professors for them. 'Shroom's weren't all. The waiters also had cheese these really yummy salmon things.
Other fans started popping in. I met Nate Sears and we chatted for a bit and then Amanda B. showed up. I then meandered about the room -searching for more mushrooms- and met Jeff Platt. He was like, "Hey you're Amanda and I read your posts on the list" Now in the back of my mind I'm thinking, but you're Ed Platt's son! Aside from Jeff's wife and kids, his brother Rob flew in from Norway. Their mom was there too. The Platts were undeniably the life of the party. They had a blast as did everyone that sat with them.
At this point the cast and crew began to arrive. Seeing William Schallert, Leonard Stern and Dave Ketchem walking around the same room I was standing in was totally surreal. This is certainly the point I wanted to pinch myself. Mike, Amanda B. and I began to remark on just that and how we had reached the upper crust. Amanda then urged Mike to go up to Leonard Stern and shake his hand. I egged him on.
Leonard Stern, before I go any further, has made quite a mark in television, having written for the Honeymooners, Steve Allen, and producing Get Smart. He's also the "Stern" behind Mad Libs. Though, I always remember reading in the Life and Times of Maxwell Smart how he used to punch a certain wall in the room where they watched the dailies. Apparently certain scenes would wind him up and he'd take it out on the wall. On time some other man sat in his seat... the man was told before Mr. Stern arrived not to sit there. Well Leonard sat down in the next seat, didn't say anything about it, saw a scene he didn't like and accidentally belted the guy. Mr. Stern, though, was rather gracious about shaking Mike's hand.
During the mingling process Jodi and I spotted Alan Spencer pop in. Alan created the TV series Sledge Hammer and is a big Get Smart fan -he got us hooked up with Barsac for the dinner. We chatted about Sledge and the whereabouts of Gun.
It came time to be seated. Don and Barbara, though, were a bit late. People from A&E's Biography were orchestrating cameras in the background of all this. Leonard Stern's wife Gloria then came by and informed me that I was her date. She and I talked pretty much the whole evening. She was amazed at how Jodi and Lisa and I talked like we were old friends, but had just met face to face the day before.
Barbara Feldon arrived first... looking very elegant in a white suit. She sat at Mike, Barb and Amanda B.'s table. Alan Spencer and his date Dana Rider sat at that table as well. True to form, Barbara talked about Shakespeare and other books (which I'm still curious to know what they were). She couldn't have had a better table for that.
Don followed Barbara and be it noted that he should receive some kind of extra credit brownie points for coming. A month prior to the dinner he had broken a hip. It was not long before this event that he had come out of the hospital and rehab. Despite having to use a walker, he was there and ready to rock and roll. "When are we going to start this thing?" he said. Leonard Stern later told everyone not to be concerned about Don's walker because it was a new device they were testing -each leg had an AK-47 in it.
Don and Barbara were pretty amazed at the distances some of us had traveled to be their. "You came all the way from Indiana?" he asked after Gloria Stern revealed where Jodi and Lisa and I had come from. Don, Gloria and Leonard were also intrigued at how our little trio had just met yesterday, but talked like we had known each other for years. Ahh... the power of the internet... I think in a sense we all have known each other for years. Meeting only reinforced our friendship.
Don's youngest daughter Beige and his step-daughter Kenya (both lovely ladies) were also seated at our table. They were interested in what Michigan City was like. We also talked about how L.A. seemed different from other U.S. cities -namely New York and Chicago.
I think much of the evening seems like a dream -especially when I went to speak to Don. Barbara Feldon had come over to the table to talk with Don and Marty, our photographer, was at the right place and right time to get a few shots of the two together. He then said to us, "Get in there before they leave!" I managed to crawl out of my chair (it was a tight squeeze) and in the process my shoe flopped off. How very smartian.
The camera flashed and I decided to stick around until Barbara and Don finished their chat. I am a shy person and getting the gumption to say something directly to Don was a bit of work. Anywho, I kept it simple and told him how much I appreciated his work. The old soldier still has a firm handshake.
At the end of the dinner Carl, Alan and Leonard gave these wonderful speeches that made me want to cry. It was, at times, an emotional evening. Even Don himself shed a few tears when we gave him a standing ovation as he left the room. According to Alan, such an occurrence has never happened before.
We left Barsac at 20 after midnight. It was rather difficult to get to sleep after such an evening. Ohhh... to only go back and relive the moment *sigh*.
Everyone that attended had the chance to be in a group shot of the cast and crew of Get Smart.
The pictures on this page may not be used in any other media. They were, at one time, available from www.starstruckpictures.com. That site, however, no longer exists.
To read more about the Get Smart Gathering, check out Carl's site.
And don't forget to read my Come Play with Us column on the Gathering.
Go to the next page and read about Get Smart in the Park.
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