by Kevin Burton
Surely you’ve read some anecdotes about a kid who was treated badly by one of his sports heroes.
Famous people are just people with a job in the public eye. They are not some publicity photo come to life. So they have foul moods and some of them are generally surly people.
On the previous two Wednesdays on Page 7 I’ve talked about famous people I met. Never had any problems with them because mostly I met these people professionally as a print newspaper reporter. Today I’m thinking about other public figures I would like to meet.
People put unrealistic pressure on celebs so they feel like they always have to be “on.” Sometimes they can’t eat a meal in a restaurant without the food getting cold. Wouldn’t that make you grouchy after a while?
So when you think about famous people you would like to meet that has to be factored in. And you should consider the situation as well.
Is this a deal where you shake hands/bump fists and move on? Is this say, an awards banquet, where you might exchange a sentence or two? Is this a flight delay, where you might have as much as an hour to kill?
I would like to meet any number of famous people for a quick hello. That should be pretty safe usually. Anything beyond that, I’m not coming up with too many. Here are a few:
John Sebastian, singer/songwriter, lead singer The Lovin’ Spoonful: A love for music, creativity and people jumps from the screen when I watch interviews with him. There seems to be a sense of wonder still that he was a part of the great 60s music scene.
I get the feeling Sebastian would act like a regular guy if I got the chance to meet him.
Bob Costas, journalist: If I know anything about Costas it is his love for baseball. He was a popular choice for baseball commissioner at one time. I think of him as the people’s commissioner. I first became aware of Costas when he covered university of Missouri basketball and other events for KMOX radio in St. Louis.
He went on to be much more than a sports guy. Remember the Later show he used to have after Letterman went off the air on NBC? One of my quarantine pastimes was watching those old half-hour shows. That was really good for the old morale. If nothing else, I know Costas and I could talk a little baseball.
Ted Koppel, host, Nightline: Koppel was always a voice of reason. He tried to keep his show on the rails. Koppel’s many imitators who followed on other shows would cater to an increasingly lower common denominator.
The show was started to give the public nightly updates on the Iran hostage crisis. It was the way ABC competed with NBC’s Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. There was no comedian that goes go toe-to-toe with Carson. So ABC captured the audience that wanted more hard news after their late local news.
There must be someone I am overlooking. But I just don’t put people on pedestals.
The whole royalty thing that other countries have leaves me cold. Americans don’t have royalty per se but they tend to treat certain people with that level of reverence. Me, not so much.
I heard a rumor that Four Seasons singer Frankie Valli used to hang out at the senior center in the town just north of me. Can’t remember where I heard that but I always found it hilarious. Never had the slightest inclination to check into it.
There are more names of famous people in my too late category, people who have already died. In that group in no particular order, news anchor Walter Cronkite, former MLB pitcher and Ball Four author Jim Bouton, singer Karen Carpenter, Contemporary Christian singer/songwriter Keith Green.
I’d love to hear some stories of your brushes with public figures. Please feel free to post them in comments below.
Meanwhile, please tune in tomorrow for the story of a lesser-known public figure I would like to meet. I am featuring him on the occasion of his 75th birthday. He played eight years in Major League Baseball for the Twins and Royals, but was respected more as a man than as an infielder.
Bet you Costas would know who I’m talking about!