If getting reamed by the notoriously grumpy Harrison Ford is a rite of passage for entertainment reporters, you could say I was finally initiated into the club March 18. In fact, you could say a few Chicago reporters were initiated that night.
The actor and Maine East alum was testy with multiple media outlets on the red carpet at Chicago Cut Steakhouse during his appearance on behalf of Michigan Avenue magazine and the environmental group, Conservation International. Afterward, reporters traded their stories of Ford.
Me? I asked Ford why he said in the March issue of Michigan Avenue that his role as Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey in the upcoming Jackie Robinson biopic, “42,” was “a character different than any I’d played before.” After all, his career spans 40-plus years.
“Yeah, but I never played a fat man with a high hairline and a cigar,” responded Ford, annoyed. “It’s a very different character than any I’ve played before.”
Not satisfied with his explanation, I asked if the personality of the character made it unique among his many other roles. Ford looked me in the eyes as if I’d just asked, “Who is Jackie Robinson?” before finally breaking the silence: “Pardon me?”
I repeated my question, only this time there was no awkward silence afterward.
“I think the reason I was able to understand the character and have an affinity for him is because his personality is not beyond my understanding,” Ford said. “But I’d rather have the film describe his personality than me sit here and tell you what he’s like.”
I should note that there’s a part of me that respects celebrities who refuse to kiss up to the media and play “the game.” I somewhat admire the ones who don’t change who they are just to get people to like them and rave about them. But it’s hard for me to respect the stars who go out of their way to make your job difficult and let you know how much smarter they are than you, as Ford is known to do.
Of course, Ford’s legendary career has allowed him to be less dependent on the media to promote his films than other actors, given that he was a part of two of the most successful film franchises of all time: “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones.” But considering five of his last eight films made less than $40 million each at the domestic box office, according to boxofficemojo.com, and nine of his last 11 films earned less than a 60 percent rating on rottentomatoes.com, you would think the 70-year-old Ford would’ve tweaked his approach to the media by now.
And you’d be wrong.
It’s very possible “42” will have better luck with critics and audiences, judging only by the trailer and the historic nature of Robinson’s story. It also helps that Americans seem to have a soft spot for baseball films, including 1984’s “The Natural,” 1989’s “Field of Dreams” and, more recently, 2011’s “Moneyball.” Why does Ford think Americans are drawn to base...?
“I don’t like baseball movies,” Ford said before I could finish my question. “I like movies about moral courage and people who are indomitable and courageous and right.”
“42” hits theaters April 12.
Welcome back: Plain White T’s singer Tom Higgenson wants everyone to know that he and his bandmates are doing just fine, even though they haven’t released an album since 2010’s “Wonders of the Younger.” That’s part of the reason the Chicago-area band will release an EP, “Should’ve Gone to Bed,” on April 23 before releasing an LP in the summer.
“We are actually in the studio right now finishing up a full-length album, which will be out late summer,” Higgenson wrote in an email. “We wanted to give the fans a little sneak peak as to what the hell we’ve been up to the past couple years. We are not dead, everybody.”
Unlike the previous album, which was recorded in the basement studio in Higgenson’s Elmhurst home, the guys have been recording the upcoming album in the Los Angeles area so that there would be fewer distractions from friends and family. And what will the EP sound like?
“(It has) the classic ‘heart on your sleeve’ sound the T’s are known for, mixed with a whiskey shot and a vodka Red Bull,” Higgenson said. “Tim (Lopez) and I split up the writing and singing equally on this EP, and we’ve been through some heavy life experiences, from bad breakups to reality shows, so we both have a lot to get off our chests.”
Fans of the “Hey There Delilah” band can expect to hear the first single, “Should’ve Gone to Bed,” on April 2 on Sirius XM Radio. The group will also make a cameo on NBC’s upcoming reality show “Ready for Love,” premiering April 9, to support their bandmate, Lopez, who is one of the show’s three bachelors.
Casting news: According to the Hollywood Reporter, Carla Gugino (“Spy Kids”) and Maine South alum John Pankow (Showtime’s “Episodes”) have joined the cast of the ABC pilot “Doubt.” The drama begins filming in Chicago this week and revolves around a cop-turned-lawyer, played by Steve Coogan (“Tropic Thunder”).
Heads up: Due to filming of NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” there will be no parking on North Damen Avenue between West Pierce Avenue and West Schiller Street from 6 p.m. Tuesday through 11 a.m. Wednesday. at 11 am. “Chicago Fire” filmed at nearby Lottie’s Pub in Bucktown in December and again March 12.
Sightings: Charisma Carpenter (ABC Family’s “The Lying Game”) had dinner Wednesday at Nellcote. ... Director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) dined March 14 at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in the Gold Coast. ... Steve Zahn (“Joy Ride”) — who is in town to film the ABC pilot “Influence” — partied at Cuvee in the early hours of Sunday. The Blackhawks’ Dave Bolland was spotted with teammate Marian Hossa at Cuvee on Thursday after dining at Siena Tavern earlier in the night. ... Buddy Valastro Jr. (TLC’s “Cake Boss”) hung out Wednesday at Paris Club’s upper-level club, Studio Paris. ... Dina Manzo (Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey”) visited Blowtique Salon in River North and Cru Kitchen & Bar in the Gold Coast on Thursday. Scheana Marie (Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules”) stopped by Blowtique on March 16 before performing at Hydrate in Boystown. ... Cat Deeley (Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance”) visited Public House on Tuesday. The Fire’s Chris Rolfe watched March Madness on Thursday at Public House. ... NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen had dinner Saturday at Hub 51. ... Bears coach Marc Trestman dined Saturday at Joe’s Stone Crab. Former Bears coach Dave Wannstedt had dinner Tuesday at Quartino with Bears offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. ... Bill Rancic (The Style Network’s “Giuliana & Bill”) worked out Tuesday at Equinox in the Gold Coast. ... Retired Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 at Tavern on Rush.
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