Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Cleveland television newscaster Leon Bibb remembers night he had dinner with Halle Berry

Cleveland television newscaster Leon Bibb remembers night he had dinner with Halle Berry

Hollywood stars who have met me

Halle Berry
Halle Berry attends the 'Cloud Atlas' Germany Premiere at CineStar on November 5, 2012 in Berlin, Germany.
Photographer: (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Copyright Getty Images

CLEVELAND - When Halle Berry walked into the room, looking wonderfully radiant, she didn't know where to sit for dinner. I suggested a seat next to me. And she accepted.

We chatted throughout the evening, mostly about her most recent award being crowned Miss Teen Ohio.

At the NBC television station in Cleveland where I was a newscaster, Berry was an invited guest who was asked to participate in what the station called its "Fall Preview" of NBC shows. It was 1984 and Halle came to the event where advertisers received previews of the new season of network shows.
Miss Teen Ohio walked in, looking somewhat lost as to what would be her responsibilities. Our station general manager didn't know what to do after Berry was introduced and took her bows. So he told her, "why don't you sit with Leon."

Years before her Hollywood fame, Berry sat with me and we chatted about life in Cleveland and what she would want to do later in life.
Seventeen years later, the talented performer from Cleveland won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film "Monster's Ball." I thought of that evening in 1984 when she and I dined together and watched a big screen of previews of the upcoming network television shows. Since Berry achieved fame in Hollywood, I have interviewed her and I often think of the evening we met. She remembers it too -- and that gives me a thrill.
When the camera focuses on her beautiful face at the Academy Awards, I will think back again to that time.

My job as a television newscaster has enabled me to meet a lot of the Hollywood stars over the years. Years after dinner with Berry, I had breakfast with movie star Angela Bassett, who starred in "What's Love Got to Do With It?," "Akeelah and the Bee," "Meet the Robinsons," "Mr. 3000," "Waiting to Exhale," "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," and a host of others.

Bassett was in Cleveland to speak at a program at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where I was master of ceremonies. My job was to introduce her.
However, before the morning program I had breakfast at the Rock Hall where Bassett was brought to the area early and suggested to the people in her entourage that she wanted to sit with me and several others who were part of the program.

"Don't you want to sit in the green room?" asked the woman who had accompanied her from Hollywood.
"No," said Bassett, using an emphatic voice. "I want to sit here at breakfast with my new friends in Cleveland."
That was enough to make us beam. Hollywood star Angela Bassett sat next to me and we looked through the big windows of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum out at a beautiful winter scene, a frozen Lake Erie. She was impressed I could talk about how the winds come from Canada across the lake and drop the temperature so low in Northern Ohio. Bassett called it a "geography lesson."
When it came time to introduce her to the crowd that had assembled to hear her speak at the Rock Hall, I felt we had become old friends. I have a photograph of the two of us together.

Over the years I have interviewed many Hollywood stars. Not bad for a guy in Cleveland. The list includes Cary Grant, who was awarded a special Academy Award for a career of work. "Best Actor" Oscar winner Paul Newman, Tony Randall, Shirley Jones and Ginger Rogers. I even had a chance to spend an hour with "Best Director" Oscar winner director Oliver Stone, whom I introduced at a program where he was the featured speaker.

Stone and I are both U.S. Army veterans of the war in Vietnam. We talked about how we remembered the war.
I am a fan of Hollywood. Since my childhood, movies have been a large part of my life. Some films I have seen dozens of times. It's always a thrill to see a movie starring someone with whom I may have shared a moment -- or even a meal -- with.
As the old song lyric has it, "Hooray for Hollywood."
I've been thinking. Wouldn't it be nice if one of the actors I met actually mentioned my name at the Academy Awards? I'll be watching the show Sunday on NewsChannel5 because I have met several of the people who will be in the audience -- and some of them on the stage. I wonder if one of them could get me a ticket or a backstage pass....

Maybe I'll call my agent and see what I can arrange.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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