Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Seat-Filler Chronicles

The parties are presumably over, but I had a small part in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Saturday at Public Hall. My duty for the evening: to be a seat-filler for the Fuse TV broadcast.

It wasn’t exactly like the Seinfeld episode when Kramer fills seats at the Tony Awards. "They don't like to see empty seats on TV, so when somebody gets up I just park my caboose on their spot until they get back,” Kramer says.

However, Kramer's right about the “they,” meaning television producers and public relations cronies.

I moved only once, from Row J down to the first row in the upper balcony. Who would want to move after that switch? Not me.

I was lucky, it turns out. Four seat-fillers in the first row, to my left, were booted early from their prime spot overlooking the stage.

With the improved view, I give you what the live television audience probably didn’t catch.

* Mayor Frank Jackson telling the crowd before the ceremony he “looked forward to Cleveland hosting the event every three years.” The mayor watched the entire show one table away from Max Weinberg, Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band drummer and the future Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien band leader. Check out Jim Vickers’ April story on what’s happening now at the Rock Hall. Hint: It’s Bruce-related.

* The giant teleprompter. Presenters Rosanne Cash (for Wanda Jackson), Weinberg and Garry Tallent (for Bill Black and DJ Fontana), and Paul Shaffer (for Spooner Oldham) used it for their speeches.

* Wanda Jackson needing what appeared to be a wooden crate to reach the microphone and accept her induction.

* Some people at Run-DMC’s table wearing the group’s signature Adidas kicks and toe-tappin’ to Metallica at the end of the ceremony.

* While it was still hard to tell one penguin from another with all the tables (Is that the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood or inductee Jeff Beck?), Metallica fans easily outnumbered the other inductees’ and, arguably, the band received the loudest cheers. The highlight was a toss-up between the thrashers’ three-song closing act and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page joining Beck to play guitar. The Page and Beck performance made its way to YouTube this morning.

Check out the Fuse TV running blog for even more insight on Cleveland's night.

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