This really must be my year to meet celebrities. First Nina Garcia, then of course the best of the best: Oprah, and yesterday I had the opportunity to rub elbows with Vince Young!
It all started when I was hunting for a story idea for my broadcast news class. We have to turn in news packages every week and it’s always a hassle trying to find a story to cover that will still be news worthy a week later when our show actually airs. Last week I had come across a news article saying something about Vince Young opening a steakhouse in Austin on Nov. 6 with a special private preview on the 5th. I emailed the PR lady asking for an interview because I thought I might be able to get some cool shots of the restaurant, talk to the PR lady and maybe a fan who would be excited to go to the steakhouse. Then it dawned on me to ask her for a media pass for the private preview – hey it was worth a shot! I couldn’t believe when I got an e-mail from her saying she’d be happy to add me to the list! I found out later that Vince would be at the private preview too. Maybe I’d get to talk to him?!
So, I asked my friend Sam to take me since I don’t have a car and she could be my videographer too. She was more than thrilled because she’s a huge sports nut and of course a big Vince fan.
When we set out yesterday, we didn’t know what to expect when we got there. We figured it would be either a really small event or something pretty big. When we got there, the PR lady who was in charge had all the media set up in the foyer where they were going to unveil something which looked like the shape of a life-size longhorn (it was) under a huge picture of VY after the Championship game. She said Vince, and the 2 other owners, Philip and Laura Brown would come out to unveil the mystery object, say hello to everyone and then take us all on a tour of the restaurant. After that there would be a Q&A and then personal interviews with Vince and the owners if we wanted them. (And yes, we wanted them!)
This was my first time covering an event like this, and it was hectic! It was a rat-race almost to get the best shots and be up close and personal where the action was happening. Sam and I were tripping over our cables and having trouble holding our phones, and folder and notebook while toting the camera and tripod through narrow walkways along with 10 other people doing the same thing. I did my best to hold my dinosaur camera above my head to get some good shots because there were SOME cameramen hogging everything. Needless to say, my arm got tired and all I really got were a bunch of shaky shots. Regardless, the restaurant looked pretty great. There were gold-link curtain dividers between the the booths, which were themselves set up in kind of S-patterns. This almost sounds tacky, but the effect was very exotic – almost Egyptian-esque. There were pictures of Darrell K. Royal Stadium and of Vince all over the place, amongst more normal seating. There was also this cool, modern, wall fireplace and the lighting in the entire place was soft and mellow – something that probably really looks amazing at night!
They took us to The Ten Room, named after VY’s jersey where there was a huge football-shaped table and an entire wall of wine. VY had talked about earlier his newfound passion for wine. He said he had grown up and had really come to love wine, which inspired him for this room. Each bottle was personally signed by Vince and for sale. (No idea how much – but can only imagine it being in the hundreds.) There were also wall dividers of wine racks throughout the restaurant, which was pretty classy.
After the tour, the press conference-like Q&A commenced and then personal interviews. The PR lady had made it clear from the beginning that they did not want any questions about Randy Moss and the Titans, but a reporter for News 8 Austin snuck in a “general” question (she asked what he saw for the FUTURE of the Titans with Randy Moss on the team) and the PR lady wasn’t too happy. Then – it was my turn!!
I asked Vince what he liked to do in Austin other than his steakhouse, whether he frequented 6th Street ever, and what advice he could give our boys at a time like this. He basically said that ‘we’d be okay’ and that the fans needed just to stay behind our team and Gilbert, and we’d get out of this funk eventually. Overall, he was really gracious and friendly. You could see how passionate he was still about the Longhorns and Austin (if the restaurant decor didn’t scream it already). He had good things to say about Mack Brown and seemed to have faith that our team would be able to shake this crappy season off eventually. Hope he’s right!
I was also fortunate enough to talk to Candice Johnson – Vince’s high school sweetheart girlfriend. Their baby was also there – and he’s a cutie! So quiet and calm. You’d never know Candice had just had her baby 3 months ago – she looked amazing! She was super nice, and so friendly. As a former UT grad herself – and a Comm School grad at that – she was really happy to talk to Sam and me on and off camera. She even gave us her card and took our e-mails, telling us to e-mail her and that she’d love to stop by the school and see our news show one of these days!
There were samples of food for everyone to munch on, and from a vegetarian’s perspective, the sweet mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes and other sides were delish! The meat I’m sure was also tasty!
Because Sam and I had to shoot stuff for my story, we lingered and they let us! We were the last media to leave and everyone was just hanging out, including a couple of the Titans (Bo Scaife was there) and not paying us any attention. As we were getting ready to leave, we thanked Vince one more time for their reception and being so open to talking with us. I told him that we’d love to see him at some games – and if he came he could sit with us in our 2nd row seats -haha! He seemed like he liked the idea – haha!
As we were getting ready to leave, Candice pulled up and asked Sam if she wouldn’t mind running inside to give Vince back his phone (obviously she didn’t). While I was waiting for her, a man outside asked me if I wouldn’t mind grabbing a couple of the posters that they had for the media. I wanted one too so I went back inside. Vince was sitting at the bar with Bo and his PR lady, so I hesitated at first, but then figured I wasn’t going to get another opportunity so I asked him for an autograph. He signed his crotch on the poster and I made a sarcastic comment saying, “I love that you’re signing your crotch right there!” and he said, “Oh you know, that’s money right there.” (Haha!) Bo Scaife made a joke about why I was looking at Vince’s crotch anyway and I feigned embarrassment saying I couldn’t help myself! He had signed 2 copies by that point and I was thrilled because I knew Sam would be beyond herself (we had already gotten individual pictures with him)! I was right – she was!
Overall, it made for an amazing reporting experience and an even more amazing experience rubbing elbows with football royalty! This has definitely been my year for celebs – I’ve got 2 more months – bring ’em on!! Check out my news package below: