Thursday, December 11, 2008

Will Smith visits Observer newsroom

The first sign Will Smith was approaching the Observer: a luxury motorcoach emblazoned with a huge photo of the actor's face, advertising his new movie "Seven Pounds."

Subtle he is not.

Smith is in Charlotte today promoting the film and raising awareness for Second Harvest Food Bank.

He stopped in the Observer newsroom after visiting the Levine Children's Hospital and students at John Taylor Williams Middle School and Northwest School of the Arts.

Wearing a white button-down shirt, v-neck sweater, hooded vest and jeans, Smith breezed through the Observer lobby, smiling ear-to-ear and saying hello to gawking employees.

After a quick elevator ride to our fourth-floor newsroom, Smith stopped to shake hands and greet everyone he passed.

A reporter was able to snag an autograph for his 12-year-old son, a big fan of the actor's.

"Best Hanukkah present ever!" he exclaimed after he walked away.

Smith stopped to give a hug to one copy editor, commenting that her jacket "felt like butter." She's been seen re-enacting the moment ever since he left.

He then sat down with movie critic Lawrence Toppman for a half-hour interview, his trademark booming laugh trickling into the newsroom every so often.

His entourage -- mostly public relations reps and security guys -- mingled with others in the newsroom. One of them pointed to TV/radio reporter Mark Washburn's desk and said, "You know all the '70s movies about reporters? That's what I envision."

On his way out, the actor stopped to pose for a brief photo shoot and signed some more autographs, including an Observer section promoting "I Am Legend." He told the autograph-seeker that his K-9 co-star in the 2007 film was "the best dog ever."

Afterwards, the (straight, male) staffer said, "I never felt like a giggly schoolgirl before, but I did."

In fact, the whole newsroom seemed like a bunch of giggly schoolgirls -- the room was louder today than it was on election night last month.

He said, "Excuse me, love," to one young woman, who then flushed, clutched her heart and exclaimed "He called me love!"

Smith left about 1:45 to head back to his south Charlotte luxury hotel before heading over to Regal Stonecrest tonight, when he'll donate 300 turkeys to Second Harvest.

Click here and here for more Smith coverage.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for a well written article, feel like I was there too.

Anonymous said...

Reporters asking for autographs?

Ethics at the Observer?


Dan said...

Nice job, and enjoyable read. Not all employees at the Observer are reporters and there is no ethics violation for asking for an autograph. Lighten up.

Anonymous said...

I work at the Observer and the only person I have ever asked for an autograph was 'Dear Abby' ... many years ago. She stopped in the newsroom, and since I had read her all my life, I grabbed her column in print and ask her to autograph. She was very pleased. I was beaming.

I also once ran into Curly O'Neal, the Harlem Globetrotter, the hallway coming to a photo shoot. He was in his full Globetrotter garb. I started gurgling and quivering, because this is one awesome guy, and he looked about 30 years old yet I had watched him as a kid. I said, something, "Man, you were my hero!" I was too dense to say anything else. He gave me a big smile.

The point is: Newsroom folks can be just as starstruck as anyone else, even if we shouldn't. We are human (I think).

Dave Enna

Callie said...

HE CAME TO MY SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!