Too many fans, too little time
By Elizabeth Snead
Los Angeles Times
June 27, 2006
Disney Studio's publicity department had a very full Monday morning, fielding questions about Saturday’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” PR nightmare at Disneyland.
Disney's head of publicity Dennis Rice was busy making amends to disenchanted print, internet, radio and TV press who’d waited for five hours on the premiere red carpet and never got to interview the film's main star, Johnny Depp.
“I had a big fallout with the press and I’m prepared to deal with it today,” Rice confirmed.
What Disney was simply not prepared for was the overwhelming number of fans who bought tickets to the park to see their favorite stars arrive for Saturday's premiere.
“We knew Johnny Depp had a huge fan base but we were simply not prepared for the number of fans who showed up,” Rice admitted. And for Johnny, it’s all about the fans."
According to Disneyland sources, five thousand fans camped out Friday night outside the park in order to get in at 6:30 a.m. to stake out spots on the carpet so they could see – and possible shake hands with - the “Pirates” star.
“Unlike some stars, Johnny Depp is very appreciative of and loyal to his fans and he always makes time for them at his public appearances,” says a Depp source. “They all know this and that's why they show up in droves. He started signing autographs for fans in the front of the park around 6:45 and spent two hours doing it. He didn’t even do his first interview with ET until 8:45.”
Unfortunately, his two hours of devotion to his fans up front left scant time for the countless others lining the carpet further inside the park. Or the patiently waiting reporters further down the line who were not told until after 9 p.m. that Depp would not have time to talk.
But the tremendous turn-out is proof that Depp’s popularity with fans of all ages and both genders has now hit superstar status. And he didn’t even have to jump on Oprah’s couch to get up there.
And it turns out that Depp had an even fuller plate on Saturday than most people knew. He arrived at the park at noon with his family to do press photos on the updated Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Then, according to inside sources, he spent several hours more on a “personal obligation” that Disney has refused to confirm or comment on in order to respect the actor’s privacy.
But a Hollywood Bytes investigation has uncovered that Depp’s time-consuming “obligation” was actually an unpublicized lengthy lunch/meeting with several children with life-threatening illnesses whose dream was to meet the actor. Depp's publicist Robin Baum's office confirmed the report. Depp has worked with the Make-a-Wish Foundation since his days on the late 80's TV series, "21 Jump Street."
Well, this totally defuses any annoyance about Depp's subsequent truncated time on the red carpet. Choosing to make seriously ill kids happy over inane pointless press interviews? Hard to argue with that.
Photo Credits: Nice guy Johnny Depp arrives a little late to the Pirates premiere. But when you find out why, you'll understand why so many people love this guy.