"Pirates" premiere is a wild carpet ride
The most popular ride at Disneyland Saturday was the red carpet for the world premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."
And the longest. The red carpet was over 1,000 ft. long, rolling down Main Street, snaking by Fantasyland and ending at Adventureland. But for hundreds of international TV, radio, internet and print reporters and thousands of fans who'd come to see "Pirates" stars Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, the carpet ride became pretty disappointing by the end of the night.
Fans staked out coveted spots along the carpet when the park opened at 6:30 a.m. The press arrived at 3 p.m. to prepare for celebrity arrivals from 5-6. But by 6:30, only a few non-famous guests came wandering in.
Since the premiere invite stressed 'pirate garb,' there were more eye patches, head bandanas, gold earrings, skull 'n crossbones, puffy shirts, and pirate hats - not to mention dark sooty Jack Sparrow eyeliner - than you could shake a saber at.
Early on, the throng of fans – most wearing Disney's pirate mouse ears (gold hoop earring in one ear) – were hopeful and enthusiastic, shouting, screaming, holding up banners and photos of Depp and Bloom and 'We Love You Johnny!' posters. They were only too happy to jump and scream to create B-roll color for the camera crews and applaud the professional Disneyland pirates who were singing, playing accordions, juggling balls and knives and walking on stilts up and down the carpet.
There was a pre-party with grog and grub at the Blue Bayou and Café Orleans for the premiere guests. They could also ride the new Pirates ride that features characters from the film (Jack Sparrow, his nemesis Captain Barbossa and the squid-faced Davy Jones) and then fill three huge red, yellow and green bleachers to view the film scheduled to be shown on an outdoor screen at around 9 p.m.
But by 7:30, the fans out on the carpet were getting hungry and hoarse, children began whimpering and even the seasoned press was turning surly.
"We've been standing here 5 hours and we've not seen a single lead actor from the film," groused a KTLA reporter. "This is insane. Why would they make us stand out here this long?" Even a befuddled German reporter asked, "Is this normal?"
"Is Johnny here?" reporters pestered the nervous Disney publicists. "Where's Keira?" "Has anyone seen Orlando?" "Will they talk to us?"
"They're here," one publicist promised. "Johnny's doing the new Pirates of the Caribbean ride and they're taking photographs. But he'll be here. Just be patient."
So reporters relaxed and chatted up non-Pirate people to kill time. "Entourage" star Kevin Dillon told press that his fans scream "Drama!" and "Viking Quest!" wherever he goes. Director James Cameron, who has a cameo on "Entourage," plugged his new film "Avatar," a sci-fi flick set on another planet that will be released next year in 3-D HD. But he admitted he'd probably do better with a real "Aquaman" since it's gotten built-in buzz from the show.
Jon Voight stammered when a reporter asked if he'd seen his new grandchild. The answer was "No" but he's, um, "very proud of Angie and all the work she's doing." And he hasn't sent a baby gift. And he'd really rather not talk about it, if you don't mind.
Holly Robinson Peete was very popular with press because she actually knows Depp from his "21 Jump Street Days." "Who would you like to have a pirate adventure with?" queried a TV reporter. "Well, not Johnny. He's a friend. Unlike every other woman in the world, I just don't feel that way about him," Robinson-Peete explained.
Marilyn Manson – dressed not like a pirate but like Marilyn Manson – was also a hot interview once word spread on the line that he actually knows Depp, who may star in a movie he's making about Lewis Carroll. "I'm just here to see Johnny. He's my friend. He's a real pirate. I've got absinthe in my boots and I'm a pirate, too."
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed autographs, talked to a few TV reporters and tried to ignore the smattering of loud "boos" from the crowd. Inexplicably, his wife Maria Shriver wore a Dolce & Gabbana T-shirt emblazoned with Michelangelo's David wearing a sequin fig leaf.
Finally, around 8 p.m., a few actors who actually appear in "Pirates" made their way down the press line. Bill Nighy, who plays the octo-pussed Davy Jones, said it was surreal having to play piano with his face tentacles. Vanessa Branch, who plays the wench Giselle, revealed how much fun she had slapping Depp in all three films.
All three? ...
Photo Credit: Keira Knightley faces what Disney called the longest red carpet in the world.
Johnny Depp signs autographs for fans at the Disneyland premiere of "Pirates."
Photo Credit: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver walk the "Pirates" plank.
Seems the third "Pirates" is already shot. The actors have shot their scenes and there's just location filming left. The film crew will be home in a few weeks, which is how long this red carpet was starting to feel.
Composer Hans Zimmer just tried the new updated "Pirates" ride and called it "a thrill" to hear snippets of his "Pirates" score during it. Disney chairman Dick Cook revealed plans to update the ride again for the premiere of the third "Pirates," as yet untitled, skedded for May 25, 2007.
At 8:15 p.m., frenzied screaming came from the carpet entrance. Down the line, cameramen on step ladders reported seeing Depp, Knightley and Bloom's heads. The actors are posing for photos, zig-zagging down the carpet, talking to TV crews, then running over to shake hands and sign autographs for fans. That's why it's taking so long.
But it's getting late, almost 9 p.m., and the very real fear is that the film's stars will be yanked away by publicists and taken into the party so the film can begin.
"One question! We only have time for one question!," a Disney publicist warns reporters as Knightley is ushered by. The actress tries to break the palpable tension. Told she looks comely in her white chiffon Chanel frock, she wrinkles her nose. "Comely? I look comely? That sounds a bit rude," Knightley says with that winning grin.
When she's asked to translate 'snogging' for another reporter, she laughs, "Snogging is kissing in British!" "What do you like best about Australia?," shouts an Australian journalist. "I don't know. I've never been!" Knightley chirps as she's yanked away by the pub.
Bloom's publicist pulls him past a pack of frantic reporters thrusting microphones and tape recorders. A TV reporter shouts the same question she's asked everyone, "Who would you like to have a pirate adventure with?" Bloom grins and shouts, "The giant squid!," as he disappears down the carpet.
Desperate reporters, sensing doom, start to break ranks. Mutinuous USA Today, People and Us Weekly scribes climb over the metal bars and run down the carpet to try to talk to Depp, who is surrounded by Disney pubs, his personal pub, Robin Baum, and roughly two dozen black-suited security guards wearing headsets.
"If you have movie tickets, go in and take your seats," warns a stern guard. "We're taking him in. The movie has to start!"
The carpet has become a mob scene. Guards are getting nervous. Reporters are pleading with publicists. Cameras keep flashing. Fans are screaming, "Joooohnnnyyy!" Suddenly the situation implodes as the guards surround Depp and rush their celebrity charge down the carpet.
Reporters and cameramen have to run ahead of the Depp Delta Force, as if trying to outrun a molten lava flow. "Keep moving! Keep moving! Keep moving!," the guards shout.
Just a few frenzied minutes later and it's all over. Depp is gone. After waiting for six hours, disgruntled reporters pack up and leave. And countless disappointed fans only got a split-second glimpse of Depp's fedora.
The good news? Fans can get more Depp on the revamped Pirates of the Caribbean ride. There are three amazingly life-like animatronic Jack Sparrows: one hiding at the dunking scene, another popping up from a barrel and the third counting his treasure on the ride.
If only they'd made one that signs autographs and gives interviews.
Photo Credits: Is it real or is it animatronics? Depp and his look-a-like animatronic double face-off on Disney's new Pirates ride.
WireImage/ Lester Cohen