With a tense excitement, hundreds of people line Hollywood Boulevard to pay homage to one of the greats. We now have confirmation of his greatness because today Will Smith's hands and feet will be immortalized in the cement sidewalk of Grauman's Chinese Theater.
Only the Hollywood A-list is allowed in the near proximity of the honoree, so I waited with the masses along the opposite side of the street. All's quiet on the southern front before Mr. Smith arrives. Each position this side of the barricade is guarded carefully for the view it affords. But at the moment there's nothing much to see--no stars here.
Then someone in the crowd starts yelling, "Tom! Tom! Tom!" The vocalist is joined by a handful of others, all shouting in choreographed unison. Following brief confusion, the pedestrian crowd realizes they are yelling toward Tom Cruise who has matriculated into the crowd across the street. As you can see from the 12-times zoomed pictures, these starry-eyed observers have a finely honed skill for picking out a celebrity at 500 paces. But never once did they succeed in getting Mr. Cruise to acknowledge their bellows.
Excitement peaked as a large, black SUV pulled up in the reserved space along the curb. No limo for this modest actor. The crowd cheers. Everyone is leaning over the strangers next to them to see around the vehicle and glimpse their first sight of the star. The deep amplified voice of the MC says nothing important, but in just the right ways to make everyone even more excited. The door opens, the crowd cheers, and out comes a small dog. The SUV drives away.
No one is really quite sure what happened, but disappointment is unanimous. Was this a joke? That Will Smith--he's such a kidder. But wait, here comes an identical SUV: sleek, black and oh-so-LA. Again the MC states the obvious with that professionally honed, booming voice. In mindless Hollywood fashion, the screaming continues. This time, it's for good reason. Will Smith rockets out of the car.
Taking incredibly large steps, Mr. Smith strides across the red carpet in Olympic time. He shook a couple hands but it didn't slow him down. Greeting a few particular people before taking the stage, Will kindly acknowledges the gathered crowds with an in-character hand to the ear. Then even before saying "thank you" or anything of the sort, he cups the mic close and begins a beat box, bouncing to the rhythm and pointed a craned arm in classic rapper style. Some things never change.
The crowd is completely under the spell of this classy entertainer as he speaks. The best actors in this town gain fame in their field by talent and luck. Today Will Smith is honored for not only rising to the top of the big-screen names, but his acclaim stretches across the music industry and TV screen as well. So the MC and self proclaimed mayor of Hollywood has it easy as he lauds the praises of this honored guest.
Following a non-literary, somewhat rambling, idealistic speech where he said that he wanted to use his fame and position to "change the world," Will set foot on the wet cement. Once finished, the MC again praises Mr. Smith, but this time for his penmanship and lack of errors in signing his name. (Apparently, they set the bar pretty low for Hollywood stars.) Continuing the gratuitous adulation, the "Mayor of Hollywood" declares this the best message any star has ever left in the cement in all the history of Grauman's Chinese theater: "Change the world."
For his final act as honorary mayor of Hollywood, the MC declares that "today is Will Smith Day throughout all Hollywood." The crowds cheer and Will poses for pictures with family, friends, and other honored guests. After losing sight of the star in the crowd of now semi-ordinary people across the street, I turn and walk down the walk of fame to spend this holiday in much the usual way.