On Wednesday night I worked as an entertainment reporter, interviewing celebrities on the red carpet at a charity benefit in New York City.

Here are some of the memorable moments:

I asked Elvis Costello what he would be if he weren't a musician.

"I'd probably be a landscape gardener," he answered.

I can hear it now. What's so funny about peace, love and underbrush?

Sounds like a hit to me.

Elvis Costello really wants to mow your lawn.

I asked Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, if she had an iPod.

"Yes!" she answered, surprised at my question. "As a matter of fact I do."

"What's on the Duchess of York's iPod?" I followed up.

"Jay Z!" she replied.

Then I asked the Duchess if her nephew, Prince William, would soon be marrying his girlfriend Kate Middleton.

"Oh behave!" the Duchess reprimanded me as she walked away.

End of interview.

When I thought the Duchess was safely out of earshot, I turned around to repeat her answer to the executive producer, who was standing behind our cameraman.

A moment later I felt someone tapping me on the shoulder. I turned around. It was the Duchess.

"Are you saying bad things about me?" the Duchess asked me, with mock indignation.

"Never!" I replied. "I was just, um, remarking on how lovely you look tonight."

A few hundred years ago I would have been beheaded for such insolence.

The Duchess of York likes hip-hop.

By far the high point of the evening was my conversation with Regis Philbin. I don't often get star struck, but when I was introduced to Regis I felt as if I was in the presence of royalty (with all due respect to the Duchess).

I asked Regis a few questions about the event, and the charity, and he gave me the expected replies. Then I decided to have some fun.

ME: Now, I understand that you are somewhat of a Luddite. Is that correct?
REGIS: A what?
ME: You’re not a fan of technology.
REGIS: A Luddite?
ME: Yes, a Luddite. That’s the term for someone who is anti-technology.
REGIS: Did you just call me a freaking Luddite? (to everyone on the red carpet) This guy just called me a freaking Luddite!

At this point, Regis broke into his Angry Regis routine and everyone started laughing.

REGIS: Let’s put it this way, okay Will? I’m computer-free. Got a problem with that? Is there something wrong with being computer-free?
ME: (shaking my head no)
REGIS: I’ll tell you what I got here, Willie. (he reaches into his pocket and fumbles around) Let me show you, babe. (pulls out a cell phone) I carry Joy’s cell phone. I don’t know how to use it. I don’t wanna know. But I carry it.
ME: (silent laughter)
REGIS: I'll tell you, it just got by me Will. I find myself unencumbered. She's on the computer all day and night, answering email and whatever that stuff is. I don’t want to do that.
ME: And is it true that you are in the Guinness Book of World Records?
REGIS: Did you call me a Luddite again? What’s wrong with you? Yes I am Will. I’ve been on television more than anyone else – nearly 16,000 hours.
ME: And how much longer is that gonna go on, Regis? (now I got a laugh)
REGIS: After I get through with you? Never! I’m all done Willie.

At this point Regis extended his arm and gave me a warm handshake.

REGIS: I’m gonna hang around as long as somebody like you will stop and ask me a question.
ME: Thank you Regis. It’s a great pleasure to meet you.
REGIS: Thanks a lot. Good luck to you.

I don't know what's going to happen in my career, or in my life. But no matter what happens, I can say that I did shtick with Regis Philbin.

That is pretty cool.

Me and my new best friend.

If, like Regis, you do not know what a Luddite is click here.


At 5/18/2006 11:42:00 PM, Blogger mem said...

Thank you Will, I've been looking for a term to call my parents other than "old." They don't understand the concept of keeping your cell phone on, other than when they need to make emergency calls. When I call them, it's usually busy because they are still on dial-up. And whenever I go home to visit, I get to watch all the movies I grew up with on fuzzy VHS (BETA went out before they even got a chance to catch on to that). My parents are Luddites!

I think it's great you got to meet Regis - he's very good at what he does, even if he's a Luddite. I guess my parents are ok too.

At 5/19/2006 11:42:00 AM, Blogger Will McKinley said...

Mem - My Dad is the same way with the cell phone. He turns it off when he's not using it, like it's a light switch. I think he thinks that somehow he will save money on electricity if the phone is off.

I think there's something to be said for being a Luddite. It does simplify your life. Maybe our parents (and Regis) have the right idea.

Of course, if I were a Luddite, I would not be replying to your comment on my blog.

And that would be sad.

At 5/19/2006 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

It's too bad he's a luddite, he could check out your cool blog-site! Carry on! You are awesome!

At 5/19/2006 02:00:00 PM, Blogger Benari said...

"A freaking Luddite!" Awesome. That's almost like playing Vegas with Sinatra. Almost.

At 8/23/2006 10:43:00 AM, Blogger Scout said...

Funny, Funny post Will. I wish I was there!


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