I've flown in and out of the Bob Hope airport in Burbank more times than I can count, but that's been about the extent of my experience with the town that makes Hollywood famous.
All that changed this week. This time Burbank was more than just a place to fly into and pick up a car for other destinations. This time I came to Burbank for Burbank--at the invitation of Disney Worldwide. Yes, THAT Disney.
I didn't sleep so well. It wasn't the late night dinner. (That was delicious.) Or the bed. (It was very comfortable.) Or the temperature. (Although I did have a little trouble getting it just right--not being accustomed to air conditioners.) It was the fact that the following morning I was going to a screening of a brand new Disney movie, at the Disney Animation Theater, on the Disney-ABC lot. It was the fact that I'd been asked to write a picture book to tie in to the movie.
Yes, me! Yes, Disney!
I got up an hour before my alarm was set to go off. I was awake anyway. I brewed coffee and ate chips stowed in my suitcase for breakfast--unwilling to pay $20 for a bowl of cereal from room service. I spent much longer primping than I normally do--knowing that feeling as if I looked good would make me feel good. Self-confident. Like I belonged in the group of very creative strangers I knew would be attending this screening with me.
You know what I mean about that, right? About looking good making you feel self-confident? I got a manicure before I left. And a haircut. And a new leopard-print top. And a pair of pointy-toe boots to wear with my fabulous new pair of hand-me-down jeans. I even borrowed jewelry--something I don't wear a lot.
The taxi took a long time getting to the hotel. I fidgeted. I paced. I asked the hotel desk to call again. (What if I'm late? What if I miss the beginning of the film? What if they won't even let me in?!)
We stopped at the guard gate, just like you see in the movies, and the guard took my license and checked his list and made me a badge with my picture on it. To the right--the ABC building. To the left--the Disney Animation Theater, with a 30-foot Fantasia-inspired wizard's hat atop the entrance. The hallways were lined with Wreck-It Ralph. I was so early they hadn't even started setting up for the screening.
"Go have a cup of coffee in the ABC Commissary across the way," the nice security guard behind the desk suggested. "Thanks, I will," I said.
The heels of my new boots marked a satisfying, confident beat down the hall, across the pavement, and down the polished marble floors leading to the Commissary. I'd already had two cups of coffee (and I don't even DRINK coffee), so I had a muffin and a bottle of OJ, much more tasty than the bag of crushed chips from my suitcase, and looked around for somebody famous. The closest I got was the iron fence outside the window, which incorporated in its design the famous and unmistakeable three circles that make up Mickey Mouse's head and ears. Now that's famous--when three circles without any features immediately bring to mind a person--uh--mouse.
Then it was back to the Wizard Hat building. The nice security guard gave me the thumbs up and pointed me in the right direction. I signed a second non-disclosure agreement (I'd already mailed one and faxed another to my editor in New York) and left my cell phone on a table outside. They weren't taking any chances.
I'd love to tell you about the screening, I really would. But I can't. Except to say that I sat next to an artist for the publishing side of Disney, and we talked for a few minutes about art and writing, and made a connection and exchanged cards. Maybe he'll work on my picture book. Who knows?
Suffice it to say that Frozen, due out next November, is going to be a beautiful film. And have a brilliant picture book tied in to it. Trust me!
After the screening the nice security guard called me a cab and I was whisked back to the Burbank airport. I had a tour guide of a driver. He pointed out the studios along the way. Told me if I wanted to be in the audience of a TV game or talk show, I'd have to book months in advance. Told me he'd been a chauffeur once, and dropped names that couldn't help but delight me: Bill Cosby. Jay Leno. Elizabeth Taylor.
Now, my work begins.
I'm not worried--at least not too much. There was magic in the air at Disney. I think I may have brought a little back with me.
At least, I'm hoping!