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A Dennis Quaid Encounter

Jenn Metz | Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I think I have found my true calling.

Sure, working for the News section is great – I’ve had some great interviews and written some really interesting stories – but working the red carpet and shaking hands with celebrities is definitely where it’s at.

Entertainment reporting might be in my future, complete with nice dresses, free movie screenings, and obnoxiously large microphones.

That is, if I can keep my nerves in check.

As I lined up with the other reporters Thursday night, waiting for the stars greet their South Bend fans, I was very (very) excited.

Though, as Mr. Quaid made his way down the line toward my spot on the carpet, my excitement faded and I became very (very) nervous.

What on earth was I, someone with little to no celebrity interviewing experience, going to ask that would impress Dennis Quaid?

Luckily, I was able to talk the other star, Rob Brown, first to calm down.

Chatting up Rob Brown was no problem – he is close to my age and we joked around about football. He talked to me so much that his publicist had to subtly gesture to me that it was time to wrap it up.

He’s a very charismatic actor and delivered an emotional performance in the film, which, like most football tragedies, brought some members of the audience to tears. One particular audience member was so moved by his presence that she requested he autograph her pregnant stomach. Quite frankly, I thought that was a little weird.

But back to Dennis.

He almost missed me, but luckily his publicist saw me with my handy digital voice recorder and reporter’s pad, and pulled the actor my way.

I introduced myself and shook his hand. I asked him a few questions, but I haven’t brought myself to listen to the tape yet – I’m sure my voice was shaking. But what a rush! He laughed at something I said, and gave me a good five minutes of his time.

Then there was the film itself.

I was, and if you know me, this will be no surprise, one of those audience members moved to tears.

There’s something about football on the big screen that is so raw, so emotional, so full of sound effects that I don’t hear in row 44 at Notre Dame Stadium, that just captivates an audience. “The Express,” especially, did a phenomenal job of combining vintage-looking film with live-action shots, which really transported the viewers back in time.

Though at times over-acted and a little theatrical, the story was, as Mr. Quaid to eloquently told me on the turf carpet, one that transcends football – it is a story about race, it is a story about family, but most importantly it is a story about overcoming the odds.