A few weeks ago I was invited to interview Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen for the mother-son comedy "The Guilt Trip." As I read the details of Paramount's invitation, one line stopped me in my tracks: They invited my mother along.
Immediately, I questioned whether this was a good idea. I needed a gut check and asked my boss whether he thought it was a good idea. He did. My contact at Paramount was anxiously waiting to confirm me and my mom, Sally -- something she was delighted to hear when I broke the news. Without hesitation, my mom said yes. Like most women of her generation who grew up with Streisand's music, not to mention "Funny Girl" (1968), my mother is a huge fan.
The next thing I know, mom is getting her eyebrows done, relaying her clothing options to me over FaceTime and requesting that our outfits "at least be in the same color family." She booked a hotel in a strategic location between my office in Santa Monica, CA, and the interview location in nearby Beverly Hills. Knowing that the interview was going to be on camera, she reveled in saying (more than a few times) with a giggle, "I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille" -- her version of the famed "Sunset Boulevard" line.
Watch my mother and I interview Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen:
My parents live about three hours away and when my mom got off the freeway to meet me in my neighborhood ahead of "The Guilt Trip" screening (a day before the big interview), she got lost -- literally during the last quarter mile of her 200-mile journey. What could have been a scene on the cutting room floor of the very film we were about to see, our conversation went something like this:
Mom: I'm lost! I don't know where I am! I'm at Benton Street, now Rampart -- DO I TURN LEFT OR RIGHT?
Me: I'm not sure. Is the freeway west or east of you?
Mom: I don't know. Now I see Silver Lake Blvd. DO I TURN LEFT OR RIGHT!? HURRY! I'M DRIVING BY!
Me: I don't know because I don't know what direction you're going in. ARE YOU HEADED EAST OR WEST!?
That Abbott and Costello-style shouting match went on longer than I'm sure either of us would like to admit. Mom finally arrived in one piece. Flustered, yet still excited for what was to come.
We watched the movie. She, and many people in the audience, laughed a lot. She shot me knowing glances and arm nudges during the parts that reflected our own mother-daughter relationship. And I think I can hang onto my unbiased journalist cred when I say: My mom loved the movie.
The next day, we primped and prepped at her hotel room. I screened her interview questions, telling her she could shorten them -- a lot. I wrote our questions out on note cards, instructing her to memorize her parts. On the way to the interview she said, "You know what I really want to know: How did Barbra eat all that meat!?" (There is a memorable steak-eating contest scene in the film.) I said, "Ask her that. That's a good question."
We got to the Four Seasons -- the location of the interview -- and took the elevator up to one of the top floors. On the way, the elevator opened to Megan Fox walking by with her entourage and her two-month-old baby. My mom nudged me and glanced, smiling, acting as if she was keeping her enthusiasm under wraps. She sort of wasn't. But that's okay.
We met other journalists with their moms. My contact at Paramount greeted us. Soon, my mom was the belle of the ball, feeling so comfortable that at one point she did her own spin on a hot flash joke that was in the film, to which I found myself saying in that high school, judgmental daughter tone: "Moooom!" She traded stories with the mother of the film's director. (Both moms were just off camera when I interviewed Anne Fletcher.)
Then we awaited our big moment with Streisand and Rogen. I warned my mother, "I know you're feeling great now but I just want you to be prepared to work through it if you happen to get star struck when you see them." She assured me she was fine.
Still, I was expecting the worst.
We walked in. I shook Streisand and Rogen's hands as a cameraman somewhat forcefully shuffled my mom into a chair. Cameras roll. And... my mom did great. (Watch the video of it above.) In fact, I'm proud to say, she upstaged me.