I’m very sorry. I didn’t mean to do it. Please forgive me.
If there was some way to turn back the clock, and do it all differently, then maybe this calamity wouldn’t have occurred. It may have been ages ago, but the effects are rippling through time…
It was seven years ago. I was still living in California, and I had one of the coolest jobs on the planet: I was one of the management team at the Mann Movie Theatres in Westwood (see? I even spell theater all fancy). Just south of UCLA, in what is called the “Village.” You would often see one or two of Hollywood’s elite taking in a movie there, which was icing on the cake. I remember holding the door open for Angelina Jolie at the premier of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and leading Sylvester Stallone and his family to their seats at the premiere of Shrek 2: Fun memories that allow me to be the annoying name-dropper at parties. At the time, The Mann company was running four theaters there. Big monstrosities that held over one thousand people in the auditorium. If you have never been in a huge movie theater, you have never lived. Seriously, you’re dead.
On the night in question, the night that started Mister Sandler’s downward spiral, I was working in the Mann National Theatre. If you have seen the 2007 film Zodiac, then you have seen the Mann National. The point in the film where they are watching the Dirty Harry movie, and then move out into the lobby. No re-dressing of the theater was necessary – it opened in 1970, and had retained all of its seventies opulence throughout the years; gold carpet and all. It wore its time period proudly. That is, until it was leveled for a parking lot in 2008. Sadly, the large, ornate theaters of the past continue to lose ground to the modern multi-plex.
But that’s now. In 2005, it was still a bustling hive of movie-going activity. In fact, the night in question was opening weekend for The Family Stone. I was helping work the front door, taking tickets as patrons entered. When the theater was busy, the entrance became a sea of bodies, one person almost indiscernible from another: you just grabbed tickets, made sure they were for the current showing, tore them in half, handed one half back to the customer and said, “thank you,” with an occasional, “enjoy your movie.” One of the faceless masses, I did manage to notice, was holding some sort of hot-fudge cake-thing from one of the local eateries, dressed to go in a clear plastic container.
That is outside food. That is a no-no. Outside food is not allowed in a theater. Why? Because, seriously, your local bijou does not make enough money from straight ticket sales to pay the staff. They have to share the majority of it with the movie studios. They get even LESS, if your name is George Lucas. They NEED you to buy that over-priced popcorn. Customers walking in with cake, ice cream, soda pop and large pepperoni pizzas are verboten. That would start a bad trend, and before you know it, poof, your movie theater is flattened for a parking lot.
I automatically said to the blur of humanity in front of me, “I’m sorry, you can’t bring food into the theater, You’ll have to take that outside.” I remember a pause, and a very polite and subdued affirmative response, and the person stepped back through the doors.
Then, suddenly, a hush fell over the lobby. You usually don’t get quiet like that from hundreds of people going in to see a movie on opening weekend. It’s kind of odd, really. So I stepped away from my ticket-taking and looked around. It was really easy to see everyone, because they were all staring at me. All the patrons. All the employees. All the managers. All the people on the next block at the bookstore. Everyone.
Then one of my Manager friends, who is no longer my friend because he said this, said, “Dude, you just kicked-out Adam Sandler.”
What could I say? I had done the deed. Everyone knew it. I fell back to what I knew, and replied rather feebly, “well, he had food.” Besides, I was still stinging from the trouble I got into letting Paula Abdul bring her dog into the theater (she had her second dog stuffed in a little travel case. Silly me, I thought it was her make-up).
That seemed to appease everyone, and the bustle returned. But things weren’t quite the same. There was an uneasy feeling throughout the lobby. Would Vince crack again? Who would be kicked out next – one of the staff? Someone that looked at him funny? Getting a reputation can be quite disconcerting at the moment it happens – the romance and bravado are mostly things made-up after the fact.
There was also a new problem: Now Adam Sandler was sitting on a bench right outside the front doors, calmly eating his hot-fudge cake-thing. This is a problem because there are hundreds of people coming into the theater, and it will only take one person to scream “Adam Sandler I Love You! Can I Have Your Autograph?” to turn the tide, and make every person outside follow like hapless sheep, and completely clog the theater entrance. That would be bad, and it would be my fault. Ever wonder why famous get special treatment? Now you know: Crowd control.
So I stepped outside, offered my apologies, and asked Mister Sandler back into the theater. Once again, he was the epitome of good manners. He simply thanked me and went in.
Now, as I mentioned, a reputation grows. It’s like the preverbal fish tale, and mine was no different. I became “The Guy That Threw Adam Sandler Out Of The Movie Theater.” I was revered for my heroism under celebrity fire, and my upholding of the rules that make theaters run. Understand, that simple sentence left all others not in the know open to speculate, which is how a reputation becomes legend: Adam Sandler was drunk/toxic/cursing/waving a firearm/holding a detonator/insert your most imaginative celebrity situation here, and Vince drug him out to save all normal-thinking moviegoers everywhere. I let it go. After all, if I spoke of it myself, someone might remind me of the Paula Abdul thing, which I was hard-pressed to live down. Best for me that the new story kept circulating.
A month or so later, I saw Mister Sandler again, this time at the Village Theatre. This theater has been around since 1931, and is even more opulent than the National. It was twenty minutes or so before the next show, and one of our staff had let Mister Sandler in early. He recognized me right-off, raised his hands and quipped, “I swear, they let me in.”
I don’t remember what I said, nor does it really matter, because I’ve realized something: I thought he was joking, but obviously, there was something more. I had kicked him out of the theater, and it was taking it’s toll. I understand now that the story was growing in his social circles as well as my own. Slowly but surely, it was becoming his Dianetics moment, being re-lived in his head over and over, to the detriment of his life and career.
Not convinced? Need proof? My friend, it’s obvious: Ever since that day, Adam Sandler has been making crappy movies.
Don’t blame him. It’s not his fault. He’s wounded. His decision-making faculties, especially when picking out projects to get involved with, have been severely impaired since that day. And it’s my doing. I’m the bad-guy. Blame me. I forcibly ejected a screaming Adam Sandler from the movie theater with one-hand tied behind my back while thwarting a box office robbery on my lunch break, and it has scarred him for life.
I now know what I must do, before he makes a movie where he plays ALL of his relatives, not just his sister (and, speaking of playing all of your relatives; I don’t know who screwed-up Eddie Murphy, but you need to CONFESS NOW and save his career, as well): Mister Sandler. Adam. From the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry. I was simply following the rules on an extremely busy night – I was wrong. You are loved by millions who are looking forward to your next film, myself included. I wish you no ill-will, and hope that you will forgive me, let go, and move on.
I’m just so happy that in today’s modern world, we have the internet that allows everyone, myself included, to get these important issues out into the open and clear the air. And to ruthlessly name-drop for the sake of a few extra search-engine hits. Let’s see, I mentioned Angelina Jolie, Paula Abdul, Sylvester Stallone, and of course, Adam Sandler.
It’s a shame that I don’t know the name of Paula’s dogs…