Mike Christy and I exchange emails and occasionally talk on the telephone, but we live on opposite coasts and have never met.
Mike served as an enlisted man in the Marines in the late 50s, then went back to college and afterward joined the Army where he rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel before retiring. He is a highly decorated multi-tour Vietnam veteran, and Mike also is my "brother" on the Together We Served website that I refer to occasionally in my blog columns and feature on my home page.
Beyond his service in the military Mike is a Hollywood veteran who has been a technical adviser, actor, writer, director and producer for more than 25 years. He was featured both onscreen as Major Duncan, and behind the scenes in numerous capacities, on the Tour of Duty television series on the Vietnam war. (If you Google Mike Christy you'll find a ton of information about him.)
So, you must be asking yourself by now, what does this have to do with Ellen DeGeneres and Britney Spears? Well, today Mike will be featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show as the somewhat bemused homeowner who opens his front door in Hollywood to find Ellen and Brittney Spears ready to do a holiday song and dance on his front porch.
I don't usually write about the things going on in Hollywood. Nonetheless I enjoy good movies immensely and use them for reference quite often as regular readers of this column are aware.
I also enjoy the theater and once upon a time in a prior existence wrote theater reviews. Although I rarely comment on the private lives of the people who act in these productions, there are a lot of reasons why I think it is important to note that a friend whom I have never met in person, got a surprise Christmas gift and is sharing that gift with us.
Not the least of the reasons is that Mike's "gift" will be featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show today. You can see a preview of their dance here: http://ellen.warnerbros.com/2008/12/another_sneak_peek_of_ellen_wi.php.
Just copy and paste that web address into your browser field. I don't know how long it will last before it is taken down so it is probably best to do it now.
Also, as anyone who reads or watches television news is probably aware, Britney Spears has had her share of troubles over the past few years. She has been a near constant presence in the headlines, and not for the right reasons.
But lately she has been making what we can only hope is a serious effort to turn her life around. If Ellen DeGeneres is willing to help out and guide a fellow entertainer in a better direction, teach her that good times don't have to involve the entertainment industry's usual definition of "fun," then I say, let's lend a hand.
One of the things Mike told me in an email that really caught my attention was that even though he lives in Hollywood, surrounded by entertainment industry people, and sees stars all the time, he was still somewhat amazed when he opened his door to find Ellen, Britney and the film crews on his lawn. Here, let him tell you in his own words:
Living in the land of movie making, we are accustomed to seeing movie and television stars, well-known actors, and the men and women whose faces we know but not their names. They are at grocery stores, restaurants and at the park near our house. We even have a number of actors living in the neighborhood.
Zachary Levy, star of "Chuck" lives the next street over with the same house address as ours. Leslie Bibb, featured in "Iron Man" and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," lives two doors down. Until a year ago Jon Cryer of "Two and a Half Men" lived directly across the street.
We encounter celebrities often. But what happen yesterday was totally different.
My wife took our new dog to the vet's. I am home alone with Lady Bird, our older dog. Birdie loves to bark when people walk past the house, especially if the person has a dog on the end of a leash. I look out the front window to see what the barking is all about and I see maybe 20 people outside. Some have film cameras. Some carry clipboards. They are on my lawn, others are on the sidewalk and even more are standing in the street.
Then two blonde women walk past the window and one knocks on the door. I open it and standing before me is Ellen DeGeneres who asks if she and her friend can sing me a Christmas song. I look at the other blonde and it is Britney Spears! I must admit I was taken aback.
So the two chat between themselves to determine what to sing and they decide it will be "Jingle Bells." Ellen will take the low harmony with Britney taking the high. It is really good. I applaud! Then Ellen, always the spokeswoman, asks if they could dance for me. "Sure," I say. They turn their backs to me to play to the cameras and I watch.
Now keep in mind the cameras are on them and I suspect me for my reaction. Naturally, I look at Britney gyrating. They finish and Ellen asks what I thought of it all and I all I can say is "Great!" Ellen then asks if I would like a Christmas tree and when I said yes, a guy dressed as an elf, presents me with a perfectly formed table-top tree.
Ellen then asks who else I think they should sing and dance for. I send them up the street to Leslie's house. I applaud once more and off to Leslie's house goes the whole crowd.
I have been in the entertainment industry for nearly 25 years yet I am always somewhat thrilled when I see celebrities. This moment, however, was somewhat bigger. Only in Hollywood (or anywhere near)?!
So guess what I am doing this afternoon at 3 p.m.? Yes, I am tuning in to the Ellen DeGeneres Show to watch my Internet friend and Marine brother watch Ellen and Britney Spears dancing and singing for him.
I think next week we should shoot for an appearance on Oprah. Maybe she'd like to read my book!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008