Coordinating our small part of the event has been an interesting example of the flat-worldness of 2007. I’m American; the charity is British; the filmmakers who put together the video for tonight are from Abu Dhabi. Without email, it would have all been nearly impossible to organize.1
The goal of tonight’s activities is to enlist USDFA into getting much-needed medical care to the Mulanje region of Southern Malawi. Most readers are probably more familiar with Doctors Without Borders, another terrific organization. The difference between the two groups is in approach. Doctors Without Borders goes into crisis locations. They’re firefighters. USDFA is much more about building sustainable, locally-centered programs — which is why Malawi (and FOMO) makes so much sense.
Underscoring the small-worldness meme, upon checking the schedule, I learned that one of the other presenters tonight is Mia Kirshner — an actress from my very first TV pilot, whose departure from the series inspired a portion of The Nines. I don’t think she holds a grudge. But then, she is an actress, so would I know?
It’s uncomfortable to have aspects of my life crossing over. By and large, Africa John has been pretty autonomous. While there, I didn’t introduce myself as a screenwriter. 2 And outside of a small area of Los Angeles, I don’t have any measurable celebrity quotient. So I’ll be speaking tonight with only the authority of a guy who helped paint a mud-brick building. And I’ll be hoping the DVD intro plays correctly. Because I’m pretty sure they shot on PAL.
UPDATE (11:55 pm EDT)
- The video went off without a hitch.
- Cipriani is a beautiful space.
- I was apparently looking at some other event’s schedule, because there was no Mia Kirshner to be found. However, Brett Ratner was there to introduce Russell Simmons. After that, I was probably the next biggest celebrity. Which is alarming.
- If Alex Band were a tradable stock, I’d probably buy some shares. I’d never heard of him either, so it was smart for him to sing, “Wherever You Will Go” first for the “oh, yeah” factor.
- I ended up chucking my script, which is a bold choice for a screenwriter. But after a string of hold-my-award speeches and a soporific live auction, I thought it best to just speak from a place of emotional honesty. It cut through the post-dessert fog, which was all I could hope to do.
- The emcee introduced me by saying, “a man who needs no introduction,” which is patently false. The friend of the guy who was in The Brothers McMullen3 — he knew who I was. Because he’d just finished a novel. And was looking for an agent.