CTU EXCLUSIVE: Hanging Out With Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, and the Family at the 'Fighting' Premiere
I've often compared my time here at CTU to my favorite childhood story "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" where I play the role of Charlie, Channing Tatum is the incomparable Willy Wonka, and all of my excursions to sets, press junkets, and awards shows are stand-ins for the priceless Chocolate Factory tour.
CTU has been pretty much a fairly tale for me and attending the April 20th New York premiere and after parties for 'Fighting' with Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, and their families can now be added to the long list of incredible and surreal experiences I've been lucky enough to have because of this site.
So here's the blow-by-blow for my latest Tatum-inspired adventure...
The week before the premiere I received an email from Chan's publicist's office letting me, Chan, his parents, managers, agent, etc. know where we should pickup our premiere tickets. To be included in that particular group of people was undoubtedly one of my high points here at CTU, and to say that I was excited would most definitely be an understatement.
Attending a movie premiere is one of those things I've had on my bucket list since Chan invited me to the set of 'Fighting' a couple of years ago.
Going to premieres may be old hat to people in the entertainment industry, but I'm a newbie. Since I had never been to an event like this and didn't know what to expect, I was really nervous and could barely sleep the night before. The only thing that comforts me when I'm nervous is to arrive early so I can get the lay of the land.
When I arrived in New York a few days before, the weather was perfect, 80 degrees and sunny. On the day of the premiere, it dropped down to 46 degrees and rained all day, but absolutely nothing could spoil my excitement. Not knowing how the weather would affect my trip into the city from where I was staying with my best friend in New Jersey, I had my car service drop me off at the Regal Union Square Stadium Theater two hours early.
In those two hours, I met reporters and security guards and watched the crew as they physically sewed the red carpet down outside under a heated tarp that would soon be filled with reporters, celebs, publicists, film execs, and family and friends.
Chan's parents had arrived in New York City the night before. On the night of the premiere, his mom Kay texted me to let me know that they would be on their way soon, so I picked up my tickets from will call. My best friend arrived around 6pm, and we waited for Chan, Jenna, and his family.
Jenna came through the doors at the end of the red carpet first, looking even more flawless than you can imagine, and let me know that Chan was taking photos with his parents outside. She then made a beeline over to the fans across the room who were patiently waiting to get autographs. Everything happened so fast that my pics were a bit blurry as she happily interacted with the excited fans. I was able to get a quick video as she walked back in my direction to wait for Chan and his parents. You can checkout the video below...
While we waited, she introduced me to one of Chan's friends, Caleb, who's a model and actor in New York and came out with them to attend the premiere. We stood around talking until Chan's parents finished taking their red carpet photos and came inside.
As always, it was really great to see Chan's mom Kay again, but this was my first time to meet Chan's dad Glenn. He's such a sweety and gave me a big hug. Not that I didn't know this before, but it's quite clear when you meet his parents that Chan comes from extremely good stock. They all have always treated me like family and that means more to me than almost anything else that's happened with this site.
After finishing up a ton of interviews on the red carpet, Chan finally made it into the lobby of the theater. Again, things were moving really quickly and his handlers were trying to move him upstairs where more interviewers were waiting for him.
Chan's mom preceded to get his attention and let him know that I was there. Although he had zero time, we were only able to talk for what seemed like seconds before he was pulled away up the escalator to finish up everything he had to do before the film could start.
Once Chan went upstairs, we all followed so we could take our seats inside the theater and watched the movie. I have to take a minute to apologize for not being able to send more tweets on Twitter during my time at the premiere. The phone reception was really bad and then my battery died. I can't do anything about the reception issue, but I will make sure to take my charger next time.
I actually didn't have tickets to the after party, so Chan's mom told me to find them after the premiere, because Chan would want me to attend whether I had tickets or not. As instructed, I tracked them down (after running into the HILARIOUS grandma from the movie) and to my surprise, they made room in the family car so I could go with Chan, Jenna, Kay, Glenn, and Caleb to the after party. That was definitely one of the many surreal things about the entire night and meant so much to me that they would allow me to ride along with them.
The after party was held at the Marquee lounge in Manhattan where club scenes from the movie were shot. You can CLICK HERE to see hi-res photos of the inside of the lounge.
As we walked through the doors, I was greeted by one of the security guards I had met at the theater and had a Cheers moment when he belted out "HEY, Q"! as we all entered the room. Led by Chan's publicist, we proceeded to the back of the club to go up to the second level where they had tables setup for the actors, main crew, and their friends and family.
At the bottom of the stars we were stopped by another security guard who requested our tickets. As I said before, I did not have after party tickets and in addition to that, Chan's parents had forgotten theirs at the theater. What I learned is that none of that matters when you travel with the Tatums. Chan's publicist preceded to let the guard know that we were "Channing's family" and didn't need tickets. Surreal moment number 10,543 in CTU history...
We headed on upstairs to a packed room full of people and were lead to a large booth with a sign that said "TATUM" in the middle. We all sat down to enjoy the party. Not surprisingly, Chan was the man of the night, so everyone wanted to talk to him. After weeks of doing press, you would think that he would have been tired, but adrenaline from the excitement of the premiere kept him upbeat as he chatted with and took pictures with party guests for much of the night.
So here's where I have to explain why all of my photos from the after party look as if they were taken by someone sitting in a booth and just randomly raising their arms to snap a photo of people passing by or standing next to the table. They look like that, because that's exactly what I did, and I dare any of you to say you would have done anything different.
As far as I'm concerned, I had the best seat in the house. I sat in the center of the booth flanked by Chan's parents and Chan and Jenna. I was truly in fan heaven and the only time I got up from said seat was when Jenna, Kay, Glenn and I all went to the buffet to get food for ourselves and Chan.
Kay even offered to get up with me so I could take photos of others in the room, but I respectfully declined. I then let her know that everyone who was truly important to me was sitting in that booth and there was no need to move. I sat there and talked to Jenna about her Dad who was trying to make it into town despite the bad weather, to Chan about his favorite Cuban restaurant in New York, and we all took photos of each other on our various cameras.
I was so committed to my seat that I didn't even get up when my blogging idol Jared from JustJared.com walked by the table towards the end of the party, because he was trying to get a photo with Chan and Jenna for his popular celebrity news site. I just called out his name and introduced myself to let him know I was a fan of the his blog.
So I have to apologize that I did not get more photos of others at the party. I promise to try to take off my fan hat next time and venture out a bit more. You can see all of the photos I took at the premiere and the first after party in the slideshow below:
Before Chan's parents left, Kay made sure to introduce me to Chan's team, so I was finally able to meet his managers, agent, and attorney. Although it may seem strange, I always assume that people don't know about the site, so I was surprised when Chan's managers and agent let me know how much they liked it and how much they all appreciate what I do here at CTU. It was a great feeling and also meant a lot to me.
As the after party was wrapping up, I was invited to go to the after after party. Since Kay and Glenn had left earlier, we had a little more room in the car that was quickly filled with Chan's friend Reid (one of the screenwriters from 'Stop-Loss' and a partner in Chan's new production company) and a friend from High School and his wife.
We all left Marquee and piled into our Hybrid SUV so we could head over to the lounge at the hotel where Chan and Jenna were staying. I hung out with Chan, Jenna, their friends, Jenna's dad (who was going to attend the premiere, but got held up by bad weather) and some of the actors from the film like Zulay Henao, Cung Le, and Brian White. Once my car service arrived around 3am, I knew my chocolate factory tour was coming to an end yet again, and I sadly had to say my goodbyes to Chan, Jenna, and their friends so I could head back into the real world.
Below you can check out a video of Chan and Jenna saying bye to Jenna's dad, taking photos, and signing autographs for fans outside their New York City hotel later in the week...
'Fighting' premiered in the US and Canada on April 24th. The movie hits UK theaters this past Wednesday, and was released in Ireland, Spain, and Malta May 15, 2009. The movie will premiere in the Netherlands next on May 21, 2009. Fans can go to the CTU Calendar to get a current list of international release dates for the film.
Needless to say, it was an incredible night and more than I ever expected. Honestly, that always seems to happen when the Tatum's are involved. I've been lucky enough to really make some good friends and Chan, Jenna, and his parents go out of their way to make me feel like family whenever I'm around them. No one ever said that they had to do that, but it's just who they are and I love them for it.
Two years ago, I was just a woman with a little blog. CTU's not so little anymore, but more importantly, I've gained some really great friends. I want to thank Chan, Jenna, Kay, Glenn, and Chan's publicist Evelyn for allowing me to attend the event. It was an unforgettable experience. It may have been my first premiere, but I'm definitely hoping it won't be my last.
Finally, I want to say that I also had a great time hanging out with CTU readers Marlie and Kerline the day before the premiere. Thanks to you both for taking the time to meet up with me while I was in town!!!