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Arrived there before store opening (in my case, 8:30AM) for the 2PM session. We’d been told that we couldn’t get in line before 12:30PM, but these poor people did NOT know they would have RINGERS to deal with.
At 9AM, they opened the doors, and we all trooped upstairs to where the signing would be. At this point, there weren’t more than about 25-30 of us, so (having years of experience working autograph sessions), I figured out the best place for us to place a line while staying out of everyone’s way, and harrassed a few of the younger folk into paying attention to me (it helped that a large number of people in the line were from the Chicago Fellowship and figured I knew what I was doing–so other people followed along). One young lady came upstairs to tell us we couldn’t line up yet; I replied that it would cause pandemonium if all of us, plus the hundreds to follow, pretended to wander aimlessly around the store only to converge all at once at 12:30PM. I asked if maybe we could take numbers, or work out some other system. She went away. She didn’t return…
About half an hour later, “Marc” appeared. He began setting up ropes and moving chairs–they had only about 40 seats originally set up for Sean’s Q&A. He moved us a tiny bit, but didn’t say anything about us leaving, so we asked if we were OK as we were. He said he thought we’d actually set up the line quite well, and he had no problem with us just staying there until we could be moved into the seating area. Woo hoo!
A little after 11:30, Marc moved us into the seats. Since there were only 5 people ahead of me, it was front row center all the way. I was a little worried about 1) being too close, and 2) the floor-to-ceiling windows letting in bright sunlight, but what the heck–it was a great seat and I was keeping it! Once we got seated, the line moved forward, and the several hundred people who were already waiting *mostly* got close enough to hear, if not see.
We spent the next hour or so playing the movie trivia game–Marc proved a quite funny and versatile host, if I had to explain to him that it was “phial” and not “file” of Galadriel… I managed to embarrass myself hugely by answering a question incorrectly that I *knew* the answer to–I swear, I was thinking “London” and said “Wellington” and I have a new appreciation of how this sort of thing happens to game show contestants. (I got a later one correct, and so redeemed myself.)
Marc had previously explained to us that Sean had been moved to an earlier flight (to New Zealand, where he’s shooting a TV series), and his people had wanted to move up the signing, but it was so late, and had been advertised so widely, that the store didn’t want to change the time. Now, however, since it was well early and SO many people were already there, they figured that people arriving just at 2 wouldn’t have much of a chance anyway, so… when Sean’s people called a little before 1, they were told he could come on over anytime. Which he did.
I don’t have notes from the talk–too busy photographing. I know he was more relaxed than I’d ever seen him. He talked a bit about the process of choosing a cowriter. He talked about watching a bit of the Bears game. He sang about half of Elton John’s “Your Song” and told a funny story about meeting Elton. And then he sat down to sign and sign and sign…
I understand the theory was that he’d sign the first couple hundred or something, then give another little talk for the people who’d been too far back to hear the first one. Maybe someone else can tell you if that happened–I can’t. However, I did give him a book of photos from Wellington and Lincoln Center, and the Chicago Fellowship gave him a couple of presents including an adorable personalized bear, and he couldn’t have been more gracious to any of us. So, having had a remarkable day, I didn’t want to push my luck by trying to hang around the fringes taking more photos, and our group left for a long-awaited lunch.
Hello! Just reporting back from the Sean Astin book signing at the Borders in Chicago. It was pretty crowded when I arrived this afternoon at Borders on Michigan Ave. The line was already snaking from one side of the third floor of the bookstore to the other side, weaving through and around the shelves of music and books to accomodate the large number of people who arrived to get their copy of the book signed.
They notified us that due to time limits and the amount of people Sean would ONLY sign the book and no other materials. There were so many people that the management had to cap the line, so some people were just plain out of luck. Sean Astin is definitely a trooper when it comes to signing books for all those fans that came out today to see him. I managed to read well into the fouth chapter of the book while waiting in line. As I got closer to the table where Sean was sitting signing the book (or books if you bought multiple copies) they mentioned that Sean couldn’t take a picture WITH you, you could only take a picture of him. So no other books/pics/things would be signed nor would I get a picture with Sean Astin–Ah well, the fans will be content with meeting him and getting a photo. Said photos are attached to this message.
Overall that I saw Sean Astin was very courteous to all the fans who came to get the book signed by him. The girl infront of me asked him if he was staying in the city — he said no, matter of fact I’ve got to fly out to New Zealand straight from here, I’ve got to leave at 3:30. This probably explains the hurried pace of the line since Sean seems to be one of those kind of people that wouldn’t mind chatting it up and taking photos in normal circumstances. The only question I have is what’s he going to New Zealand for? Maybe a King Kong Cameo? Only time will give us the answer to that! As for me I’ve got a signed book to read!
Hello, friends of TORn! I attended Sean Astin’s Chicago book-signing at Borders bookstore today. I saw Sean last year at WizardWorld and I’d have to say it was a better experience then. My time with Sean couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds this time around, so it was very rushed. I think this is because he was leaving for New Zealand tonight.
My friend and I arrived in Chicago around noon, but decided to grab a bite to eat before standing in line at Borders. We could see from outside the store that the line was pretty long, way up on the top level. By the time I purchased Mr. Astin’s book and we got up to the line it was a little after 1 pm. Later I heard the people behind me talking about Sean’s “discussion” period. Apparently that had already been done, even though the signs in the store and internet said 2 pm. Disappointed that I missed Sean’s talk, I anxiously waited in line, making random comments about where Sean might be this very moment or what he was doing to my friend. He accused me of having “obsessive compulsive disorder”.
I thought of what I wanted to say to Sean. I thought I’d ask him if he could tell me anything about the extended edition, ask how his family was, tell him he *totally* deserved an Oscar for Samwise (which the people behind me in line were also very sure of), and tell him I thought he was great in 50 First Dates! I also wanted to tell him everyone from theonering.net loves him and ask him to sign my custom-made Hobbit purse (he’s on it!) Okay, so, I had several ideas bouncing through my head so I wouldn’t make a fool of myself, getting up there and staring giddily.
The line was moving much faster than I anticipated. We were only 20 minutes ahead of the “capping off” of the line, so I expected to be standing in the rock ‘n’ roll CDs for quite a while. It was less than hour, however, before an employee of Borders began telling us the rules for seeing Sean today. The only thing he would sign was the book, and he would not personalize it. He would only sign a specific page and we couldn’t even give him the book; we gave it to an assistant who handed it to another guy who handed it to Sean. We could not pose for a picture with Sean. It was quite sad! Based on the other reports I’ve read and meeting Sean before, I find it hard to believe Sean was the one to lay out all these rules. The friend I was with said Borders is probably to blame.
I scrambled to get a couple pictures between the people greeting Sean ahead of me. Then, finally, it was my turn: Sean looked up with a smile and a very nice, “Hi! How are you?” I smiled and said, “Hi! I’m great, how are you?” I think he said good. I had heard him mention flying to New Zealand tonight to the person ahead of me, so as he signed my book I asked what he was going for. Some part of me hoped it was for more pick-ups for the RotK extended edition. But he said, “Oh I’m filming a new Hercules mini-series…” and I can’t really remember what he said after that. By then he was already signing someone else’s book and my time seemed to be up. “I’ll have to look out for that; thank you!” I concluded, and he sent an acknowledging nod my direction. A tall man standing to the right of Sean handed me my book and thanked me. I felt really rushed, but still grateful for the opportunity of seeing Sean again. I didn’t get to tell him any of the things I had wanted to, but my friend was able to snap a picture of my moment with Sean!
All in all, the event was less satisfying than I expected, and I feel bad for those people behind me who said they had traveled some distance to be there today. For me, though, any chance to see one of my favorite actors was worth the day in Chicago! Sean handled himself well and continued to be very friendly even through the rush. Thanks for continuing to keep Chicago a stop on the map, Sean!
Several LOTR Chicago Fellowship members [some of whom were meeting a LOTR celebrity for the first time, my own daughter included] made their way to Borders Bookstore in downtown Chicago early Sunday morning to await the arrival of Sean Astin for a short talk and book signing of his new book, There and Back Again. The store opened at 9:00 am, and Sean was scheduled for a 2:00 pm appearance. The line had already started before the store even opened. [I heard later that the earliest arrival had been 5 am.! ] Im not entirely sure the staff had been prepared for what lengths fans will go for a good seat, but we duefully headed up to the event area to wait out the time in line. It was orderly and friendly, everyone talking and meeting old friends and making new ones.
Closer to time they moved us into the seating area and had a bit of a trivia contest, which was very funny. Many of us proved our LOTR geekdom time and time again with each question. The overflow of people was massive; it was more than standing room only, and I was really happy that I had decided to get there as early as possible.
Sean arrived for his [far too short] discussion time nearly an hour early, due to the fact that his flight had to leave earlier than previously scheduled. He was on his way back to New Zealand to continue filming Hercules. The fangirly squeeing that greeted him was deafening, and Sean started out the talk by saying how gratifying it was to have such a huge turnout for the book signing. Part of what resulted from writing the book, he remarked, was that it reminded him how much people really care about LOTR: the cast, the crew and the fans. In the moment, during filming, it was easy to lose that perspective. After the filming, he felt rather disconnected and withdrawnpart of the drawback of working on a project where his work wouldnt be seen for years after hed filmed it, but he was now able to see just how much was involved. In addition, the demands of his profession and his need to stay in touch with his family had began forcing him to really take care of himself first, and how important doing that was for him to accomplish the things he wanted to do.
Briefly he mentioned the RotK Extended DVD also drove home how utterly captivating the experience of working in New Zealand with the whole LOTR crew had been. He mentioned that he had remarked to the cast that it could be compared to building the pyramids [which, he said, was a source of some amusement.] but his point was that the communal effort of each of the team members given it their all was astounding.
Several of the more enthusiastic fans in the audience jokingly asked to join him on the trip to New Zealand this time around as his personal entourage, which Sean good-humoredly declined.
Turning the discussion to the process of writing There and Back Again Sean mentioned that he had always wanted to write a book since….well, since birth! The trouble was, he wasnt sure how to go about it, exactly. After researching it, he realized he needed to have a literary agent. His manager contacted one; he got a hold of Joe Layden, who seemed to fit the bill for the type of book Sean wanted.
Sean began saying Its little bit funny…. which set him singing the whole song by Elton John. The crowd quickly joined him. Amid a great deal of laughter, Sean told a tale about how he had met Elton John at a party. Getting back on the subject, he told us that because of other commitments, he wasnt able to read the book by Joe Layden sent to him for nearly a year, but the opportunity arose and he arranged to have several interviews with Joe, mostly on the phone. Using those conversations, Joe would write up transcripts and send them to Sean for approval. Once they had fine-tuned it into a book manuscript, the literary agent began to go around seeking a publisher.
Sean was quick to caution everyone that the book was not a comprehensive record of even his personal feelings, let alone the massive, complex journey he undertook in making LOTR. It was about several aspects of both his inner workings and the experience of it. He wanted to be sure to thank everyone involved in LOTR, from the cast and crew and down to us fans for our involvement, and how that had really changed his life, both personally and professionally.
Because Seans time was so limited, the book signing had to go very fast. The bookstore staff explained to us that Sean couldnt personalize the books or sign other merchandise, couldnt get up to do celeberity photo shots, and couldnt give out hugs or talk to each of us for long. We could have someone behind us take photos of Sean signing our books for us, and we could give him gifts, but it had to be done with a great deal of haste. [well, it is a book signing, after all, not a convention.] And then the line began to move.
Having been in line since the store opened, my group was toward the front. We had our books all ready and open, and we presented Sean with a special teddy bear from Build-A-Bear that was designed for him. Its part of a program that makes a donation to support early childhood literacy with each bear purchase, and being that Sean is a strong supporter of literacy programs, we thought hed appreciate it. [He appreciated it a bit more than I expected: he in fact wanted to give me a hug, which I tried to turn down, not wanting to be unfair to all the fans behind me. Ever try to refuse a Sean Astin hug? You cant, trust me, and I, red-faced, apologized to the squealing crowd and told everyone that I honestly didnt ask for it, it was Seans idea.] My daughter was with me, and Sean gave her a special handshake and smile, which made her day. She was thrilled to have finally met him.
It went very quick, and someone not used to book signings might have felt very rushed, but I was prepared for it. All and all, the fans were great: it felt like a big, friendly get-together, with a lot of familiar and some unfamiliar faces mixed in. Sean, although a bit jet-lagged [he had been in Boston the day before, and had arrived at the signing from the airport, I believe…] was all smiles and more relaxed than Ive ever seen him. Writing There and Back Again really seemed to have given Sean a sense of calm and enjoyment, a renewal of his positive energy. I hope that hell make another appearance in Chicago soon, one where well get to have even more time with this remarkable man.