The Miraculous Somewhere In Time Premiere

By Jo Addie





Some films have been revived, even resurrected decades later from the tomb of a film vault and brought back for a stint on TV or made available in a new format, such as Laser disc or DVD.  Many films have been restored, and even re-released, such as Disney is known to do for their classics.  But Somewhere In Time is the only film on record to have been `re-premiered', able to boast its three major stars present for the occasion, along with a throng of fans!  Having been denied a proper Premiere on September 17th, 1980 on Mackinac Island, because of a rare Actors' Strike which lasted 3 weeks, Somewhere in Time received its due twenty years later, largely because of its fans' ardent fervor!

I was there in 1980 on the island, for what was supposed to be a true and splendid Premiere, and the film was debuted to the enthusiasm of the island residents and the press, but alas, no stars!  It was considered "work" for actors to make personal appearances to promote a movie, going on talk shows such as The Tonight Show and presenting clips.  So none of that ever happened.  And surely, it hurt the film--no denying that.  That is why, such a miraculous night as occurred on October 24th, 2000 adds such a noteworthy punctuation to a legacy about which writer Richard Matheson has recently exclaimed, "You can't kill this film with a stick!"

That marvelous evening had all the trappings of a proper Premiere . . . a prestigious theatre, the very new AMC Empire 25 Theatre on 42nd Street.  It had  Red Carpet Arrivals, with stars stepping out of their limousines, to a crowd of delighted fans on the sidewalk.  It had the press corps toting big cameras to catch it all on tape, for nationwide broadcast.  It had executives from Universal Studios Home Video to guide the affair.  And it had its major stars, Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Teresa Wright and producer Stephen Simon to be honored by everyone present!

Universal generously allowed for fans to be present, something truly rare for a premiere, which is usually reserved for press and film echelon.  INSITE members were invited to attend, and encouraged to dress in period attire, and 132 of them made plans for this glittering evening.  Notice was short, based on little more than 3 weeks, as soon as it was told to me by Jane Seymour that both she and Chris were committed to coming, so Universal Home Video went frantically to work to plan the event, choosing a day that they hoped would be perfect timing--not interfering with the already sold-out Somewhere In Time Weekend at Grand Hotel, but close to the October 31 release date of the new SIT DVD/special edition video, and not too close to Halloween so as to have too much press competition.  However, the week before the Premiere, wouldn't you know, it was determined by fate that the World Series would be NY vs. NY, the first time that happened since 1956, game 3 would be that evening, and the Charlie's Angels Premiere would be set for the same night in the same city . . . so we had more competition for press than anyone could have anticipated!  Thus, the press was not nearly what we had hoped for.  Universal was prepared by providing their own camera crew for the entire evening, providing B-roll coverage for all press that didn't attend.  Fox News did terrific coverage, cutting the material in their truck and putting it up on the satellite for news programs nationwide, while the event was still going on!--and also taping a nice in-studio interview with Jane Seymour, with added footage of the premiere for their Celebrity Profile program the following weekend.

Many fans are fond of finding the 'circles within circles' that are carefully woven into the story of Richard and Elise by consummate writer Matheson, as well as the 'after stories' of the film's interesting life, and many will appreciate these amazing facts to add to the circularity.  The AMC Empire 25 Theatre was built in 2000 on the site of the original Empire Theatre built in 1912.  Portions of its architectural features were salvaged and placed within the street level lobby of the new 12 story theatre complex.  Maude Adams, the real stage actress on which the character of Elise McKenna is based, played opposite John Barrymore in the former Empire Theatre.  And, what's more, Christopher Plummer, won the Tony Award for portraying Barrymore in the one-man Broadway production of "Barrymore".  Add to this, Jane Ayer, the woman whose PR firm Universal hired to promote this unique Premiere, has the distinction of being the granddaughter of the man who wrote, "Oh, You Beautiful Doll", a classic song which plays prominently in Somewhere In Time.  Jane Ayer, herself a fan, was delighted to play a role in the film's revival, especially in view of her very personal link to the movie! 

While all the guests took their seats in Theatre #9 on the fourth level, the Reception area was being roped off and set up by Hilton Hotel Catering.  Several other celebrities had been invited, but were unable to attend.  Christopher Plummer was out of the country and John Barry, who lives not far away, early on expressed interest in coming, but cancelled, unfortunately, due to work commitments. Dana Reeve was at home with Will, as they had just let their nanny go.

Ken Graffeo, VP of Universal Studios Home Video opened the evening by telling the audience, "It's a really exciting night, and I'd like to applaud all of you because not only do we have a stellar group here, but to watch all of you procession in, and the costumes, it's fantastic, and a real honor to be here."

SIT  Producer Stephen Simon took the microphone and gave a warm speech, "Twenty-five years ago, I walked into a book store, found this book called "Bid Time Return", fell in love with it.  Begged my way into the movie business, got a job, first day on the job I called the agent for Richard Matheson. We met and started a lifelong collaboration and friendship...we began this journey.  Two years later we enlisted Jeannot Szwarc, our wonderful director and the journey began for the three of us.  Unfortunately, Richard and Jeannot can't be here tonight.   I spoke to them this morning and I'll be talking to them later tonight.  They asked me to vote their proxy and on behalf of all of us, do a couple of thank yous.  First of all, Thank you so much to Universal Studios Home Video, to Ken, to Craig and most particularly, Maria, who put so much effort into doing this.  Thank you for recognizing our film.  It's one thing to say, `I think I can, I think I can, I think I can', and it's another thing for you guys to recognize it.  Thank you fans of this movie, who have bought the videos, rented the videos, are gonna buy the new video, gonna buy the new DVD, who have demanded your cable company show the film--you are the ones that really established this.  Thank you Jo Addie for all the amazing efforts that you're doing, and one particular thank you . . . there's one fan who began this, many, many years ago, who said `I'm gonna get this film recognized', and more than anything, tonight is a testimony to his love and his devotion, Bill Shepard, stand up!  Somewhere In Time's number one fan!"

Amid a long and moving ovation, Christopher Reeve arrived, bringing himself into the theatre by the use of his sip-and-puff control system on his high-tech chair, and after he positioned himself before the audience, in front of the screen, Maria LaMagra (Universal Studios Home Video Executive) introduced the other celebrity guests for the evening, to stand beside Chris:  Jane Seymour, Teresa Wright, Stephen Simon and myself, Jo Addie.   Then USHV VP Ken Graffeo presented Chris with a giant donation check in the amount of $25,000 for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.  Chris delivered a brief speech, saying "I want to thank Universal, first of all, for making the movie in the late `70's when screen romance was sort of out of fashion.  This movie has lasted so long in the hearts and minds of the people all around the world, and much has been said about the making of the film and it was truly a magical time.  And when all of us look back on the videotape inside our heads, the videotape of our lives, we will always want to put the `pause' and the `play' button on Somewhere In Time as one of our all-time most cherished memories."  Then Jane said, "Unlike any other movie I have ever done, before or since, or probably will ever do again, there was a magic to this movie, and that magic is what everyone loves, and the magic was real and the magic is on the screen.  My children are telling me that their friends at college have discovered this movie and the magic goes on, and everybody loves it."

While exiting the front of the screen, Jane asked husband James Keach, with popcorn and soda in hand, if he was going to stay and watch the movie, and James eagerly said, "Yes, I'm going to watch the movie!", to which she lovingly replied, "Well, let me know how it comes out".  (James had been snapping pictures of all the excitement for the family album with his own camera).   Teresa also opted to stay and see the film on the big screen.  During the movie, Universal had prepared a VIP Suite for Chris and Jane so they could be interviewed by a string of press representatives lined up outside the closed doors.  I was invited to be present for all of these pre-arranged interviews, as well as the half-hour-long online chat.  (We will present the transcript of this chat in the first quarter issue of INSITE, 2001)

In one of his interviews, Chris was asked how he feels about all the fuss that is being made over a film he did 20 years ago, and he said, "I'm very, very grateful because I think all of us want our work to be noticed, no matter what we do, whether we build bridges or paint houses, whatever, and it's just an honor to have something actually last and make a difference in people's lives--when you look back and sum it all up, when you're 80 or 90 and can say, `that one was important to people, made a difference'.  It sort of may go out of fashion in the movies from time to time, but it never goes out of fashion in people's lives . . . and that's the search for true love and for true romance.  And really, in entertainment, sports, even government, really it's the will of the people that finally carries the day.  And when there's a grass roots movement in pursuit of whatever cause, that will always win.  And I think for there to be a grass roots movement of support for this film that has lasted for 20 years, it's just an incredible honor and a real testament to the fact that people can make their feelings known and make a difference.  But we owe it entirely to fans around the world.  And I really never had that experience before, to where a piece of work was really so, so unkindly treated when it came out, and that was by the critics, the pundits, the experts, but the REAL experts are real people and they are the ones who say, `this is a movie worth saving' and they did something about it and for that, we're very grateful."

When asked what she thought about the evening's festivities,  Jane smiled broadly and said:  "As I recall, when it came out there was no deal at all about the movie, that's what's so exciting, that there is a big deal about it now.  I think what's exciting is that the AUDIENCE discovered it . . . you know, so many times you make a movie and they advertise it and really kind of push the public to see it or the critics say whatever they say--this is a movie that the public discovered, the people discovered, and it's passed on from generation to generation.  And I really see no reason why it won't go on and on because the way it's been filmed, it is timeless.

"When I read the script, I HAD to do it.  There was no two ways about it.  You usually don't go in for a job saying 'by the way, I have to do this.'  You usually go in and you hope and pray that somebody MIGHT consider letting you do it.  And I was absolutely outrageous as I recall, and think I went in there, and just looked them straight in the eye, and said 'I have to play this', because I did, I read it and I said, this is going to be my movie.  This is the movie I want to make more than anything else."

An interviewer asked Jane, "What was it like getting out of the limo tonight, and seeing all these people dressed in period (attire), on 42nd Street, in the middle of New York?"

She answered, "I think it was unbelievable, and especially on the night Charlie's Angels was opening, I thought there was such a wonderful contradiction here.  It was fantastic--the costumes that these people have made are more intricate than the originals as I recall, and the love these people have for this movie is never-ending.  They meet all the time, they have these wonderful newsletters and they're really terrific people.  And I think the thing that binds them all together is that the love of the movie  brought romance into their lives, that through the movie they've met people, they've married people, they've been inspired by the movie in some way, and I think that's really special."

Jane confessed her "tremendous pride in being known for such a beautiful love story, the kind of quality entertainment I would like to be remembered for".

I could probably write an entire issue about this over two hour experience with Chris and Jane, but space does not allow for it here.  I will attest that both Chris and Jane were truly thrilled to be present and give the film the second chance we all know it deserves.  After all the press commitments were satisfied, I got my private time with them, to chat and present them with gifts, and I must say, they really brightened up and were all smiles when their obligations were over--not that they weren't before this, but they were very focused, truly professional, and this was the time for them to suddenly `let their hair down' and relax.   It was magical to have this treasured private time with them.  Jim taped each star giving a personal message to the fans who would be at the SIT Weekend at week's end.

Just before we left the VIP Suite, Universal execs wanted to get a good photo of  Chris and Jane with the giant check.  They did so, and we snapped the same shot.  Then Jane saw the amount of the check, as it was moved away and blurted out, "That was my salary! There goes my paycheck!"

Then, even though it was not expected of them, both desired to join in the celebration of the Reception, already in full swing.  Chris stayed for longer than anyone expected, meeting many of the fans.  Jane entered the throng being followed by a camera guy, and she turned to him and said, "I am going to be with these people now", indicating in no uncertain terms that he would not get any of her attention anymore!  And she remained almost `til the end of the evening, seemingly wanting to meet EVERYONE present, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans!  I'd had to make it clear in advance to those attending that they mustn't expect to be able to meet the stars that night, just be content with being present, but how marvelous it was that Chris and Jane made themselves available to all on this momentous Somewhere in Time occasion!  Open bar, classy hors d'oeuvres being circulated on trays by tuxedoed waiters, and a Universal-requested display of SIT Gallery Collectibles also were features of the Reception.

For several members, this was their first SIT Event, since it was held on the east coast, in their vicinity.  For Debbie and Steven James of Verona, NY it was particularly fortuitous. Because they had joined INSITE just the week before, they were called on the phone and personally invited to attend.  Imagine their thrill to be included, being so fresh to our club!

Before leaving everyone was given a `goodie bag' which included three items from the Somewhere In Time Gallery line, as well as an advance copy of the  brand new VHS SIT video.  Universal had also asked for more copies of INSITE first quarter 2000 issue to be printed for use in promoting the film for this event, and each bag included a copy as well.

There were approximately 200 fortunate people who can say they were present for the New York Premiere of Somewhere In Time.  Universal Home Video declared the event a wonderful success.  Studio Executives expressed absolute amazement that people would dress up in period attire and come to a theatre to see a movie--any movie--and they saw firsthand how deeply we love this exceptional one.  Jane Ayer's office heard later from some press corps members who attended the Charlie's Angels premiere instead, that it was boring--and they wished they had chosen differently.  We can truly take pride in our accomplishing the impossible--moving the studio to do a full-out promotion of Somewhere In Time, for its 20th Anniversary, as well as acknowledging us (INSITE) in all of it.  Universal certainly did not have to acknowledge us at all--but rather, present it as if they knew all along that this was a movie of note.  This extraordinary evening more than made up for what was missed 20 years ago.  And it was all the more poignant, because it happened in 2000.

'The SIT 20th Anniversary Premiere held in NYC was spectacular!  It was more than I could have ever imagined.  The feeling and chemistry in the room was remarkable!  When Chris came into the theatre it was truly an emotional moment.  And Jane is the epitome of romance.  Thank you Universal for giving us fans a wonderful evening we can hold in our hearts forever.' 

- Kathy Fallica

'Did you ever want to do something but thought that it was impossible? That is how I felt about going to the Premiere in New York. None of my friends could go with me. I had never gone to the city by myself, but decided that it was a chance of a lifetime to see my favorite movie on the big screen. Imagine getting to meet Chris Reeve and Jane Seymour, and all the other wonderful people. It was an evening that I will always treasure and I do believe that there was an Angel on my shoulder making sure that every moment was enchanting, from seeing the fans in period dress to meeting a great couple from Long Island who made me feel like I had special friends to share the enchanting evening with.'

- Nancy May

'Hi Jo Addie, I wanted to thank you for putting me on the list to come to tonight's gala event. It was simply fabulous. I grew up watching the movie on cable, so I never saw it on the big screen. I was so moved by how beautiful it looked on the screen.  Seeing Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve in the flesh and receiving the wonderful gift bag with the 20th Anniversary edition of the film just topped off the night. Unfortunately, I did not have any period dress on. I still felt part of the spirit of the night.

'This was simply a wonderful evening for me. And the eleven-year-old girl who fell in love with the film almost twenty years ago and the thirty-one-year-old woman who still loves the film now, thanks you from the bottom of her heart.'

- Joyfully, Michelle Swan

'Congratulations to Jo Addie and to all of the people who organized the New York Premiere of Somewhere In Time. It was a wonderful experience for me and I think for all who attended. The Universal folks went out of their way to make the INSITE members feel welcomed and appreciated.  The refreshments and the manner in which they were served were first class and made us all feel like celebrities.  I think all of us would have been content with simply attending the showing, listening to the celebrities express their thanks, and just seeing them all in person.  But the extent to which these very gracious stars went to make themselves available and to interact with everyone was clear evidence of the kind of character and genuine generosity that these folks possess.  I can't help but think that it's probably not an easy task for Mr. Reeve to be in that kind of environment for such a long time, but he was his usual charming and giving self.  There surely is none like him.  Jane Seymour moved about the room and interacted with everyone with more charm and good humor than we deserved, what a delightful lady she is.

I for one was very proud to be part of the occasion and am thankful to Jo Addie whose tenacity made it possible, and thanks also Jo for that very generous "goodie bag" we all received.'

- Ed Stout

'It started with the Limousine ride into Manhattan from West Hempstead, Long Island.  There we were, 8 of us gals, some dressed in vintage attire, others in evening wear, sipping champagne as we toasted the first of exciting events of this very special night.  I guess I played host amongst our little group, since I basically made all the arrangements, from inviting extra guests, renting costumes and limo, right down to a buffet brunch at my home while waiting for the limo to arrive.  I also took pictures and video of us, documenting our once-in-a-lifetime event.  During the limo ride we all talked about the movie, listened to the soundtrack while watching the video on the small TV screen...tonight is the Premiere of Somewhere in Time!!

We even had our chauffeur interested and curious about SIT, in fact, he couldn't believe that Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve would both be at the Premiere.  When we arrived in front of the theatre, we felt so important as we each stepped out of the limo.  It seemed as though all eyes were on us for that moment until we blended in with the crowd of other SIT fans and INSITE members.  It was so exciting chatting with members I've been reading about over the past ten years and actually putting faces to names, while waiting for the "real" celebrities to arrive.  (It felt like we were all family.)

Hey, we even got "tagged" with yellow bracelets by Universal Studios after checking in on their list of names for entry, just like you see in "IN STYLE" magazine at celebrity parties!  Then, excitement elevated when the red carpet was rolled out from the theatre doors to the curb and a limo soon pulled up.  The crowds' eyes widened as all watched the car door open, waiting to see the first celebrity to arrive, while many fans prepared their cameras to capture the moment on film.  Among the crowd were several reporters and TV cameramen.  The first to arrive was Teresa Wright, looking so lovely.  She politely spoke with the crowd while signing autographs and posing for pictures.  But when Jane and her husband James Keach arrived, the crowd grew more intense and anxious to meet the Star!  Jane was so gracious and thoughtful as she, too, posed for pictures and signed autographs.  She spoke to the TV cameramen who were interviewing her, then she slowly entered the Theatre walking up the red carpet.  We all scurried to the upper level in the building to Theatre #9 to watch SIT on the large screen.  It was the first time since 1980 that I saw it again on the big screen.  Before the movie, introductions were made and our own Bill Shepard stood up for acknowledgement.  Of course, the highlight was the arrival of Chris Reeve, as the audience gave him a warm and loyal standing ovation.

After the movie we all went to a reception area for a wonderful cocktail party, getting to meet and talk, one on one, with all the stars, Chris, Jane, Teresa, Stephen and other INSITE members including Bill Shepard and Jo Addie.  We enjoyed the continuous flow of hors d'oeuvres and wine.  I still can't get over how congenial everyone was, especially Jane and Chris, as so many of us asked to pose for pictures with them.  They were so very patient.  Chris left after a while, but Jane stayed almost to the very end of the party.  And of course there were SIT collectibles for sale and upon leaving, we were all given a gift package which included the new video of SIT, INSITE journal, keychain, magnet and postcard...what an evening!  It was sad to see it end.

Our limo was waiting outside the Theatre at 11 pm for me and my group, and while being driven home, (and back to reality) we reminisced about the whole affair.  Fox TV News Cable aired Jane's interview and the Premiere that weekend and thanks to my niece Darlene Flynn, who taped it for me, I was able to watch it.  I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all the SIT Stars for an "awesome" evening I will never, never forget and it was such a pleasure meeting our "INSITE Family"....what a successful event . . .BRAVO TO ALL!'

- Eveline Marcello