My lunch with a princess
On the beat with Carrie Fisher, 1956 – 2016
By Jim Bucher
OK, I admit it. I’m star-struck. And I was super lucky during my TV career. Anytime a star came to town and was willing, I’d request a sit-down interview.
Lots of times, the “stars” didn’t want to bother with local TV, but Carrie Fisher did.
During her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, in 2012, she was more than amicable, granting newspaper, radio, and, yes, TV interviews during her run at the Victoria.
By the way, the show was extraordinary (and if you missed it, HBO is rerunning the program). A must-see.
On top of my star-struckness, (wait, is that a word?), I don’t normally get the least bit nervous, but in Carrie’s case, I was sweating.
You see, her reputation preceded her. Heard stories of a combative, stubborn, sarcastic, and sardonic wit with a biting sense of humor.
So, as it was my turn for an interview, we sat on the Victoria stage, and Todd Knopp, the theatre’s carpenter, takes it from here:
“Buch, you started the interview, not really rolling I assume, by asking her ‘what the fuck she was thinking and doing in her life’—her jaw hit the floor. Then, by the end of the interview, she was trying to take your shirt off. It was mayhem.”
You read it right: she unbuttoned my shirt to unveil something close to Jabba the Hut, but I digress.
From that point, we hit it off. She was simply delightful. “Never had an interviewer begin an interview with an F-bomb. Now, I have, though,” she said with a wry grin.
After the sit-down (and while I was buttoning up my shirt), she graciously posed for pictures and shared even more stories.
Soon after the interview ran on that evening’s newscast, I received a call from Diane Schoeffler-Warren, public and media relations manager for the Victoria Theatre Association, who said, “Carrie was really smitten by you and would love to have lunch on Monday, her day off, while the theatre is dark.”
“Well,” I said, “Let me think about it for a min—OK sure!”
Next thing I know, the hired car and driver drops her and long-time assistant Byron Lane off at Mamma DiSalvo’s. Thanks to Bobby DiSalvo for the hookup, we dined in a private area in the back of the ristorante.
I was a little disappointed—how smitten could she be with her assistant in tow? But he was there to weed out the stalkers (and yes, TV people fit that profile, at times).
Nevertheless, we had lots of laughs. The thing that impressed me the most was her sincere interest in my life, kids, career, likes, and dislikes.
I shared that both my daughters are singers, one of whom made the second round of American Idol. She was encouraging and told me both should follow their passion.
The few stories I did get from her were about living next door to her mother, Debbie Reynolds, and her plan to get a dog.
When she inquired about pictures of my kids, was embarrassed to find I had more pictures of my French bulldog, Ella, than my own flesh and blood.
Soon after, I found out Carrie adopted a Frenchy named Gary. Hmm… did I have something to do with that?
After lunch and more laughs, it was time to say goodbye, but not before she and Byron inquired about seeing a movie. I was happy to help and called my contacts at Rave Cinema at The Greene.
Hunger Games was on her must-see list, and I was happy to oblige.
One issue, though: “Do you mind dropping us off, because by the time the car comes we’ll miss the start time?” she asked.
Next thing I know, the three of us are piled in my soccer dad van, with Princess Leia riding shotgun.
You talk about nervous. All I could think was that if they were to reboot Star Wars, I had the star’s life in my hands. Was extra careful to not upset the Force. As I dropped her off and checked in with free movie tickets, it was time to bid adieu, but not before she planted a kiss on my cheek and parted with, “So, what went on in your fucking life today?”
What wit and charm, but something I’ll never, ever forget.
We had this Force for 60 years, but memories for me to last a millennium.
And may The Force be with all of you in the new year and beyond.