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Sceniac: The hands of 'Ocean's Thirteen
Big promotional events call for big posters and big ceremonies featuring Hollywood luminaries. The installation of the hand- and footprints of "Ocean's Thirteen" stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and super-producer Jerry Weintraub in the sidewalk outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Tuesday morning was one of the biggest promotional events of the year.
The 20-foot poster flapping in the June gloom -- "See the stars, win great prizes" -- was sized accordingly.
The ceremony was awkward in a charming small-town-memorial-dedication kind of way. Nobody seemed to know where they were supposed to stand. The wind blew a cardboard sign off the podium. Johnny Grant, Hollywood's honorary mayor and the emcee, had endless amounts of dead space to fill. By the end, the press corps (scraggly men and heavily made-up women) was giggling uncontrollably.
Standing on a red-carpeted riser in front of the theater (and essentially out of sight of the hundreds of fans lined up across Hollywood Boulevard), Grant got the ball rolling by throwing out some factoids about the event: The first hand- and footprint ceremony took place on May 18,1927; this would be the 192nd in front of the theater; and Pitt, Damon, Weintraub and Clooney would be the 236-239th celebrities to have their extremities so immortalized.
Grant asked Clooney's dad, Nick, to stand up and wave. He asked the crowd which actor they were most excited to see. And because the celebs still weren't ready to come out, he called out Cynthia Ruiz, the commissioner of public works, who was seated in the 150-person "family area," and thanked her for coming.
Then he got some sort of signal. "OK, are you ready?" he asked the crowd in a booming announcer voice. "Here they are!"
The crowd roared and nothing happened.
"I gotta tell them to let them out the door," said Grant.
"They'll be coming out the center door! They are waiting for you!"
There was an awkward two-minute pause, and then, exactly off cue, Clooney, Weintraub, Pitt and Damon emerged, from the far-lefthand door.
It turned out the cement wasn't quite ready for the boys to dip their hands and feet into, so Grant gave the microphone to Weintraub.
"I'm trying to be very blasé but actually I'm very excited about this," said Weintraub, dressed, like the others, in a casual suit. "I know this is all about me and not about these three guys."
He passed the microphone to Clooney, who said, "If I had to be on my hands and knees with three other guys, these are the best guys I could do it with, and I mean that in the best possible way."
He passed the mic to Pitt, who said, "Thank you
thank you very much."
He passed it to Matt Damon who said, "This isn't the first time somebody tried to put Jerry Weintraub's feet in cement."
Then the guy with the cement smoother told Grant it would be five more minutes before the cement was ready. Luckily there were some commemorative plaques to hand out to the stars. That took up three minutes and that was good enough.
Each celeb got a black stylus to sign his name in the cement. Pitt finished first and threw his right hand up in triumph.
It was over just as awkwardly as it had begun.
"OK, that's it. I'm going to collect their shoes," Grant said cryptically as he headed off inside while Pitt, Clooney and Damon walked across the boulevard to sign autographs and pose for pictures.
And that's when the crowd really went wild.