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  Apollo 13 Gala (photo report)

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Author Topic:   Apollo 13 Gala (photo report)
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-15-2002 11:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Last night, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation hosted an evening gala to celebrate the release of Apollo 13: The IMAX Experience at the Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Complex. I had the opportunity to attend and if it helps put the experience in some frame of reference, I'm still on cloud nine this morning.

My host for the evening was Ken Havekotte and his lovely wife Theresa. Ken's company, SpaceCoast Cover Service, was a corporate sponsor and as such had a table near the front of the room (Ken also provided the evening's party favor for the 300 guests, a set of covers commemorating the key events of the Apollo 13 mission). Joining us at Ken's table were fellow collectSPACE members and friends Leon Ford, Donnis Willis, and Gerry Montague. We were also very fortunate to have Guenter Wendt and his wife to share the evening.


ABOVE: Members of our dinner party...

The evening started in proper fashion as we each had the opportunity to have our photo taken with the guests of honor, Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, and James Lovell. The photographs will arrive by mail later but Leon was kind enough to capture the moment with my camera as well...

We were then directed into a reception where hors dourves and drinks were served. It was also the first opportunity to meet with the other attendees and the room quickly became packed with wall-to-wall people. Amongst the crowd, I found a familiar face: fellow collectSPACE member and Yahoo! Astronauts Group moderator Al Hallonquist. He noticed that Hanks, Howard, and Lovell had now joined the reception and we made our way over to each.

First up was Ron Howard, who graciously agreed to photographs with both Al and I (taking turns as photographer) and then he took interest in my digital camera (a Nikon Coolpix 5700).

We then squeezed our way over to Hanks, who was equally gracious and then to Jim Lovell and his wife Marilyn. (If anyone doubted that Jim was the true star of the evening, he was the only guest greeted with a standing ovation when he entered the room for dinner.)

If you knew who to look for there were other astronauts attending the reception:


2002 Hall of Fame inductee Frederick Hauck


Apollo 15 CMP Al Worden (looking snazzy in his red bow tie)


Two-time mission specialist Sam Durrance with his wife and Florida Spaceport Authority's Tim Franta (who I learned had a bit part in the Apollo 11 episode of "From The Earth To the Moon")

(continued in part two, below...)

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-15-2002 12:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After about an hour, everyone was invited into the main hall for dinner. On the menu was a five mushroom bisque (which was excellent), followed by a caesar salad and then beef tenderloin and ahi tuna.


Dessert was titled "Apollo XIII Chocolate creation"

While everyone was enjoying the 'chocolate creation', Hanks, Howard, and Lovell took to the stage to share their recollections of the making of "Apollo 13".

This was by far the highlight of the evening. The trio worked off each other to create some very, very funny anecdotes including how Lovell revisited his Houston home (that btw, he designed "on the back of a napkin") and tried to explain to the new owner that he wanted to bring Hanks and Howard and company for a visit the following day. Other highlights included Hanks reaction to Lovell's first picks for who would play him (Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford) and Ron Howard proudly boasting that he didn't get sick on the vomit comet.

After dinner, everyone made their way to the IMAX theater, where Hanks, Howard, and Lovell again took to the podium to introduce the movie.


Hanks warned, you see my face now? You see the size of it now? In a few moments, you will see it 8-stories tall! If that frightens you, you should leave the theater now.


Howard reminded everyone that no film could truly capture the courage and heroic efforts that the real mission embodied.

The IMAX version of Apollo 13 is a must-see for the launch sequence alone. Besides the towering screen, the sound system really makes you feel like you are watching a real lift-off -- the whole theater rumbles. One word of caution: if you sit too close to the screen, be wary of motion sickness. About half way through, with my field of vision totally immersed, I became ill from all the "wicked shimmeys" experienced aboard the damaged CM.

Now that's what I call realism...

albatron@aol.com
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posted 11-16-2002 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron@aol.com   Click Here to Email albatron@aol.com     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WONDERFUL report Rob! And man - if the movie gave you the "shimmies"..arent you glad you werent on the Vomit Coment being bested by "Little Opie Cunningham"...<G>

To add to your message - it was tremendously fantastic - what a night! My table was on the first row also - and once I got seated I realized I was at the head table! As they used round tables, they put 2 of them together (close - anyways) to accomodate all of the people. I was a tad suprised - to say the least. At our table was Al Worden, of course, the gal who sang the National Anthem and LTGEN Forrest McCartney who gave the invocation. But for me, it was neat as Tom Hanks left shoulder was next to MY left shoulder and in between "gigs" we had a chance to talk some. Im even MORE impressed now than I was before. When Michelle sang the National Anthem, he immediately placed his hand over his heart and was totally focused on it. I mentioned later on it impressed me and while I wont share the entire graphic comment...<G> the gist was he admired every person who had ever served, whether in the military, law enforcement (hey thats me! <G> ) or as an astronaut, for what they have done for this Country and if he ever has anything to say about it - it will NEVER be forgotten. He's certainly done a wonderful job so far Id say.

You mentioned Hank's response on the dais when Lovell mentioned he had thought of Kevin Costner first, Harrison Ford second .... its important to point out his machinations behind whomever was speaking. The eye rolling, the faces, all the antics. When Lovell mentioned this and that it became obvious he was at least THIRD choice for the role.....his face just went slack, his shoulders slumped and he dropped the live mike! It was beautiful - as were his antics! Absolutely the funniest guy Ive ever seen. And, I found out as well, one of the most humble - amazingly.

Ron Howard was equally as down to earth I found. While talking later on, I had mentioned my "step brother in law" worked for him, and mentioned the name. He was VERY gracious about him, and actually raved (and I know the guys not THAT good...<G> ). I also had mentioned I worked where they filmed "Gentle Ben" (his brother Clint's series - who was the EECOM in the movie) and he reminisced about the area as he had visited the set occasionally. The man just makes you feel at home.

Then to me - the highlight was watching the Apollo 13 movie WITH Al Worden. The running commentary (no one in the theatre asked HIM to be quiet...<G> ) and being with a guy from the era made a capper to a perfect evening. I am VERY greatful that Al took me along.

And of course, seeing great friends Ken Havekotte, Leon Ford, Donnis Willis and the rest was as always, great.

Cheers!

Al

Rizz
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Posts: 1208
From: Upcountry, Maui, Hawaii
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 11-16-2002 11:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a 'magical" event!

Thanks guys for the pix and reports.

Rizz

Cliff Lentz
Member

Posts: 639
From: Philadelphia, PA USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 11-18-2002 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cliff Lentz   Click Here to Email Cliff Lentz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seeing the photos I'm reminded of what Dick Gordon said on Apollo 12, "Itís almost as good as being there...almost!"

That must have been something special!

tegwilym
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Posts: 2284
From: Renton, WA USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 11-18-2002 12:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey Robert,
You must have had a sore face the next day from smiling so much!

Looks like a fun evening.

Tom

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