Anita B had it's Premiere in Rome on Tuesday & Robert took part in a Meet & Greet with the fans too. Luckily for us, we had eyes on the inside! @Sheehangroupie has written us a fantastic report of the full day AND got us some exclusive video footage too!! Isn't she a legend?! Also a legend is Mammy Sheehan! She was in Rome for the proceedings & was, as ever, friendly, beautiful & charming (I think we all know where Rob gets it from!)
@Sheehangroupie, we really can't thank you enough for this - especially our shout out from Robert! Thank you, thank you, thank you - we are truly in your debt!
Check out the full story, in all it's glory, under the cut! Just click on 'Read More' to the bottom right of this article :) As ever, let us know what you think in the comments, or by tweeting us @TheSheehab!
Anita B. Rome Premiere – Sheehancentric Report for The Sheehab
As I promised to @TheSheehab, here's my Sheehancentric report of Anita B. premiere/press day in Rome on January 14th. I have to cover 12 hours of Sheehan and I know you want it as detailed as it can be so you better sit down, this is going to take a while.
First of all, I apologize for the lack of live updates and tweets on my part, I'm not much better than Rob at that but in my defense there was also a very bad internet connection. In fact you should thank the web guy @jeanvigofilm, he spent the day in the most remote corners in the most awkward positions trying to tweet to keep you all updated! And you should thank everybody at @jeanvigofilm, they let your correspondent in and out of cinema and hotel as much as she wanted and they were amazing with the fans!
That said, let me explain, because many of you are already asking me, how this all happened.
Back in March 2013, when I found out Robert was about to film Anita B., I asked the producers if I was allowed to inform Robert's fans about it, as they hadn't noticed the news. They said "Not yet!" I said "All right" and just waited for someone to meet Rob and tweet a photo with him in Bolzano, which is exactly what happened soon after.
When they finished filming back in June, I wrote a Sheehancentric review of the novel "Quanta stella c'è nel cielo" on which Anita B. is based on ( http://sheehangroupie.tumblr.com/ ) because it's only available in Italian and I didn't want his English-speaking fans to miss out on things, as you never let me miss out on anything.
In late December, when they announced Robert was coming to Rome for the premiere, I contacted Jean Vigo again. I introduced myself as @sheehangroupie, to make it clear that I was not asking for press credits. I only asked if there was any way I could purchase a ticket to the event, because I wanted to be there to report back to his international fans how gorgeous was Rob on his way in and how gorgeous he was on his way out. As I could have easily guessed that from home, I told them during that gap I would have loved to watch a movie I've been waiting for 9 months to see. Apparently the way I wrote all that was particularly amusing so the producer Elda Ferri invited me to the morning premiere for the press and to the following press conference, which was surely one of the best Christmas presents I've ever received. Then I asked @TheSheehab, as I was already working with them to promote the movie, if they wanted the exclusive and Head Sheester Erinn claimed "I hereby officially dub you our Italian correspondent". (I did!! Lol! Erinn x)
Few days later, the web guy contacted me, as the national Sheehan-expert, asking for advice about a possible meet & greet with fans that they were thinking to organize. I've been observing this fandom long enough to know how we function and to predict how many fans would show up, how many with TMI books to sign, how many would enter the contest to then realize they can't go, how many would burst into tears.... My predictions were almost prophetic. Or we're just that predictable! And because I don't normally go sheestering around in Italian, I also suggested him to contact the only proper Italian fan page that's been around for a while, Ilenia's https://www.facebook.com/RobertSheehanItaly. She was very helpful with promoting the meet & greet on such short notice and I've met her at the event, she's lovely, I'm so glad she got to meet him!
Anyway, as most of you know, to me the main character of Robert's movies is always his voice, even better if with a new accent every time, and I had been whining since March because I knew I was almost certainly condemned to watch Anita B. dubbed in Italian in local theatres and to wait months for the DVD to get to watch the original version.
So when Mrs. Ferri invited me to the premiere, I thanked her a million times but I still kept my cool. When the web guy told me about the meet&greet where I was also invited, I still kept my cool. Then a couple of days before the event, he contacted me to inform me that they were going to show the English version in the same theatre at the same time and that I could watch that one if I wanted to. And that's when I lost it and I yelled at him not to give me such news when I'm at work!
Then the next day he, or they, must have realized that because the English version was for the cast and their families only, it may have been inappropriate to let one of Robert's stalkers in. As far as they knew, I could have been one of those fans who starts screaming at the only sight of him and needs photos and autographs at all costs ... I know I'm the exact opposite of that so I said well, if necessary you should ask him, ask him if he wants to deprive his old groupie of the joy to listen to his beautiful voice! I took a low risk there: he's vain, I doubt he'd agree to that. In the end I don't think they even asked him anyway.
Robert arrived in Rome on the 13th and right when I was going to the Cinema Barberini at 10am the morning after, he came out of his hotel (which was right in front of the cinema), where a bunch of girls were already waiting for him. He told them he was running late (he was) and went into the theatre, I went in right after him but I didn't approach him at all. I had a whole day of Sheehan ahead of me anyway, plus he (#rude) had not personally invited me so my presence there was still unethical from my groupie's point of view.
Anyway, I was about to watch Anita B., in English, in a theatre with only 15 other people, including Robert. He was already sitting with the rest of the cast when I came in, so I disobeyed the orders of Head Sheester Erinn to go sit on his lap, I ignored him completely and I opted to sit far enough so that he could not see or hear any of my reactions. I sat a couple of rows behind him, I had a whole row just for myself, that was fantastic. I thought: okay, I can totally handle this. But as it turned out, I was totally wrong. I've been a groupie for over 20 years (I mean for my favourite musician, Rob was 6 years old when I started! Eek!) and I've met many other groupies and we all had the same fixation: idolizing our celebrity crushes mothers. Much to my dismay, I've never met my musician's legendary mom and I never envied any fan for meeting Rob but I was dead jealous of Head Sheester Rachel for having met his mom. I didn't even know she was in Rome so when the real Mrs. Sheehan entered the room, my jaw dropped on the floor and I think for the first time in my life I was really star-struck.
During and after the movie, Hea Ssheester Erinn was texting me asking if the movie is as good as it looks. You know how usually in the trailers they only show the best scenes and then you watch the movie and find out those were the only couple of good scenes in the entire movie? Well, that sure is not true for Anita B. trailer, especially Sheehancentrically speaking there's a lot of Rob you haven't seen yet, and that's a lot of Rob you have never seen before. Remember how I compared the Eli of the novel to some of his other roles, such as dark as Stephen, funny as Nathan, emotionally unavailable like Darren season 3 and like having an evil very horny Billy under your duvet? Yeah well, I was wrong about everything. The Eli in the movie didn't remind me of any of his other roles, he's a whole new one, which is amazing.
During the press conference, Faenza was asked why the Eli in the movie is not as bad as the one in the novel and he said they don't see Eli so negatively. He also said Anita falls in love with him because she's young, he's the first man she meets and he is very good looking. As some of you may recall from my Sheehancentric review of the book, I do love some bad Rob and I always hope he'll play Satan for us one day, but I had a hard time finding the Eli of the novel believable (I bet he really existed but some men are just unbelievable indeed), and even less believable that Anita would fall in love with him. By the time I gave the book a second read, I knew what Eli was going to look and sound like and it all made a little more sense but I was still very curious to see the final result on screen. Fortunately, Anita's obsessive way to sort of "fangirl" about Eli and Eli's spiteful and mostly unreasonable way to treat Anita on a daily basis have been both toned down and the Eli of the movie is a bit more romantic, still materialistic and sexually demanding but more human and they put the right amount of focus on the reasons he has to behave the way he does so now it makes more sense. They found the perfect balance for this role, he's still Eli but he feels real. I don't know if it's because of Faenza or Sheehan but this is The Sheehab, I guess the question here won't even rise.
By the way, there's a scene of Eli's first failed attempt on Anita's virtue that will make you all squeal and this is exactly why I sat the fuck away from him! There are not as many sex scenes as in the book though, which is surprisingly erotic for a novel about the post-holocaust, if Faenza had to stick to the book he should have done a porn movie (I know, I know, if he wants to, that's okay with us... Damn I should have suggested him that...).
You all already know pretty much everything about the plot and Eli and you've heard his sexy accent in the trailer, I don't want to spoil the movie any further but just a few things: the props and the costumes look just as good as you've already noticed, I must say I like to see Rob surrounded by fine Italian artcrafts, they look very good around him.
I'm particularly satisfied with the way the movie renders the most suffocating feeling I got from the book, Anita's bewilderment when she realizes she can't talk to anybody about what she's been through. Also, just as I expected from Faenza, the scenes of her in the bathtub talking about concentration camps to her aunt Monika's baby showed the exact same lights and atmosphere they had in my head.
And this movie is full of strong beautiful women, just the way I like it. Andrea Osvart said at the press conference that she was glad she managed to convince Faenza there was no other actress that could play the role of Monika, I think she was absolutely right about that, she made me uncomfortable just as the Monika in the book. Jane Alexander, accustomed to bad-ass roles, was also very happy to play "the girl with the gun" but she said she was very disappointed that Faenza didn't let her use it!
Usually the first time I watch something with Sheehan in it, I don't really notice anything else but him. Eline Powell though, she's got a face that cuts the screen and she really caught my attention, when they were both on screen I found myself looking only at her a few times and Sheehanaddicts know that means she must be very good.
I had never seen Nico Mirallegro in anything before, he's adorable! He doesn't play a central role but I think his fans will love this movie. Antonio Cupo, very mediterranean, is clearly not my type considering that I have to end up in Ireland to find a man attractive but I must say he's quite something in person, even some guys there said hell, he's handsome in the flesh!
After the movie
After the movie I met Elda Ferri and thanked her for inviting me. Then the director Roberto Faenza came to us and she told him I was the correspondent for The Sheehab and legal representative of Rob's fans and they were both so nice with me. Faenza cracks me up, she told him he had to go back to the hotel for the photocall and he was all "Umpf, is that really necessary?!". "Of course it's necessary!" I thought, "Of course it's necessary!" she said.
Rob went back to the hotel for photos too, I remained in the cinema, in the room upstairs where they were setting up a buffet for the guests.
Even though I was still star-struck, that's when I first talked to Rob's mom. As I was expecting, some of you are already asking me if I've thanked her for giving birth to him. Silly, silly girls. Of course I have! You are indeed lucky to have someone like me who would actually go and do that! That's the first thing I've told her and I specified "From the entire fandom. Seriously.". I had to, I've always seen so many tweets and shout out "To Robert Sheehan's parents", I really needed her to understand we're not just saying that, we really mean that. I even explained to her she is for us what Virgin Mary is for Catholics, metaphorically speaking!
Even though "Your son really takes away my appetite. For Food.", we both grabbed something to eat (the waiter yelled at us because it wasn't time yet) and I sat on a sofa with her for a little while. I told her I was there for The Sheehab, which obviously she had already heard of and how I ended up in there. I mean in there at the premiere, why I ended up in the rehab for Sheehanaddicts I guess is pretty clear. I gave her a birthday gift to give to Robert and she asked me if I've had a chance to talk to him yet. I said no and that I'd rather talk to her because he makes me grumpy. She wanted to know why, I said I have issues with his voice and that I've already met "the final product" (Rob) in the past anyway and how happy I was to meet "the creator" (her) now. So I told her who I was, I always suspected he might have mentioned some fanmail interactions we had before and after me going to see him in Playboy of the Western World in London three times in a week, a couple of years ago. That's as many times as she, his mother, went to see his play, in fact I asked if next time she can please go at least four or five times so I'll feel less crazy!
And because, as some of you may have noticed, I've already found Rob's very efficient web-spy @Showbizgeek keeping an eye on my twitter account, I told Rob's mom I was glad that his other son Brendan didn't come over to Rome too: the last thing you want to see when you're on fangirl-mode is a giant bodyguard!
The press conference
When the cast came back from the hotel, we all moved into the theatre where the press had watched the movie. It was packed but I spotted a first row empty seat and sat there, right in front of Robert.
As you may have heard, most of the press conference was focussed on the fact that because Anita B. it is not produced and distributed by the only two or three major companies in Italy, many theatres will not even show it.
I bet this will do better abroad than here. They said it'll be out in North America in the summer of 2014 and that they are currently discussing the deal for distribution in UK & Ireland.
They also talked about how they're working with Italian schools to promote the movie and about Moni Ovadia, an actor and composer who sang in Yiddish in the movie too and he said Anita B. will premiere in Jerusalem on January 27th for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Someone asked Faenza why he chose not to show Palestine in the movie and I wondered why they even asked, there is no Palestine in the book, we don't even know if Anita ever gets there. Nonetheless, he actually added a beautiful dream-scene Anita has, involving Nico Mirallegro's character David and the wall of tears in Jerusalem.
Funniest bits were when Faenza pointed out that even though Robert's good looks are necessary for the role and attract a lot of fans, that overshadowed the director's good looks and when Antonio Cupo was trying to remember the name of Eline Powell's character and we were all like "Dude, that's the title of the movie!".
Robert instead, he maintained his usual impeccable composure as he always does, stretching and yawning like a lion every two minutes. At least he kept his shoes on, unlike at the conference in Milan the next day. They only asked one question per actor and I got his whole bit on video for you, even thought I hate taking photos and videos and I'm clearly too shaky for it!
I try not to look at him for extended amounts of time and I periodically check if my eyes are bleeding yet. He saw me taking out my camera only once, to film his part of the panel and I guess that was for him the signal that I was officially and shamelessly there for him. You wanna know how I can tell? Because right after that, a familiar phenomenon occurred. At The Sheehab they have a special hashtag for it: #bellyporn. His t-shirt started coming up in that casual way that I don't even need to explain to you because you've seen that happening a million times already. That must be some sort of subconscious reflex, during TMI promotion at some point I started thinking his tops have a life of their own! Maybe in a few years, if we're lucky, his pants will start falling down when there are fans around. (Please God, Please!! Erinn x)
Faenza also mentioned how involved Robert's fans are and that because of the meet and greet organized in the afternoon, there was already a crowd in front of the hotel, including some girls coming to Rome from other regions, ready to stand in line all day under the rain just for a chance to see him. He said some even wanted to sleep outside and to all that, Robert commented: "Good!".
After the conference some people asked Robert for photos and autographs. I waited for all of them to be done as I always do then I approached him and... I know you want me to report exactly what he said to me but frankly, I don't really listen to him. I mean I do listen but due to my severe erotic issues with his voice, very distracting and rather embarrassing, when he talks to me I say yeah yeah sure man but I don't really pay attention to what he's saying, in fact I usually forget about it two seconds later. I can only hope he hasn't asked me to marry him and I missed that! Anyway, he recognized me from the play and then I told him to say hello to The Sheehab, that I was working for them now. He didn't understand so I repeated it, he corrected my H-less pronounce and said "Aah, The Shee-Hab!" and then he did say hello to The Sheehab:
As we were going out of the theatre, I think I told him I've given his birthday gift to his mom and he said she told him that she'd spoken to me earlier and about the play or something like that, I don't remember much. He was chatty as always. Damn, he is really embarrassing. I mean, he's my lady-porn material! And he knows that, trust me I explained that to him more than once in the past and in colorful details! Don't worry, I specified 'from the entire fandom' to him too - and he already knew that anyway.
After the press conference
We headed back to the hotel. The web guy, another guy involved in the production and myself went upstairs trying to figure out how to fit all the fans for the meet & greet in the press room at five, because the initial idea was to invite the first 30 fans who had sent an email when they announced the event, but they received so many desperate requests they decided to send an invitation to all of those who had sent it within the first hour, about 60 fans.
Meanwhile Rob was downstairs in the lobby and a couple of fans, in tears, were let into the hotel to meet him. We also had to put up barriers and that's when I myself nearly burst into tears, when the girls pouted at me saying "No please no barriers, we'll be quiet!". I was so sorry, I told them I'm a groupie, I hate barriers too! In fact I had to look away but that was necessary to let people come in and out of the hotel and make sure the fans who have waited the longest would get in first.
At some point I met Mrs. Sheehan again in the hotel lobby. Robbie was in the press room upstairs doing interviews and he was going to be in there until five. She wanted to go for some window shopping and I had nothing to do for the next couple of hours myself so I went with her. The woman is adorable, we walked around for a while and then she offered me a drink in a bar and then we had to go back to the hotel because she had to meet Robert's agent and I had to go for the meet & greet. Obviously I avoided asking anything about Rob because that would be inappropriate, so I haven't learnt anything that we didn't already know.
When we arrived back at the hotel, the fans seemed way more than 60. She asked me what that crowd was there for and I said: "Actually they're here to see your son, so basically this is all your fault! Look what you've done!". The large group of girls was indeed unusually quiet and well mannered for Rob's crowd and a very well oiled machine too: the guy who was keeping an eye on them came to me and said "I told them I have to arrange them in groups of ten and they said they've already pre-arranged themselves in groups of ten!".
Meet & greet
Apparently the guys thought I'd be able to keep the fans calm so they told me to stay in the press room upstairs with Rob while they go back and forth bringing fans in and out, as quietly as possible because we were not in a movie theatre, we were in a 5 star hotel, we couldn't make a mess in there or they'd throw us out and no Robert for anyone. That was a powerful deterrent. Rob was still being interviewed in the press room when the web guy brought the first two groups upstairs and all I could do was begging them to be quiet during the wait and for god's sake do not start crying or I'll cry along with you! We were waiting in the hall outside the press room and they were all in front of me in two neat lines, like one very pale and shaky Roman Legion holding smartphones instead of shields, asking me if he's really that gorgeous in person. That's when it really hit me that none of them had ever seen in person yet, not even from afar. They looked very worried, I didn't have the guts to lie to them. I said that yes, he is, that I myself try to avoid him because he makes me sick, I warned them to prepare themselves for the shock and to be careful with his disturbingly blinding eyes. As I was saying that, I heard a collective gasp followed by an astonished silence and I saw the blood abandoning the face of the girl that was right in front of me as she whispered "He's right behind you". He had came out of the press room and when I turned around he yelled buongiorno at them, said something about me organizing all of that and I replied something about me never having worked for free for anybody else, then he went into another room. We knew the meeting was supposed to be inside the press room but he didn't, so when two minutes later he got out again he came to greet the fans right there where they were standing, catching them by surprise and fairly causing a bit of turmoil. One of the producers explained to him that we were going to do this in the press room, letting only 10 fans in at a time and he sent him back into his "cage".
I had told to the producers what his fans would be eternally grateful for is at least one minute each with him, for a photo, an autograph and a hug, and that Rob is very good at that kind of stuff. Actually I think my exact words were "He excels at being a slut".
Sheesters, we all know the man is a trooper, I've seen him being nice to every single fan who ever showed up at his stage door in London even when he was exhausted, we've seen him showing off his famous nipples around the world to promote TMI, but in Rome I think I may have witnessed his personal record: one after another, our slut hugged and kissed about 90 girls and a couple of guys in the span of one hour! I kept on saying to the guys oh poor Rob he's gonna get too tired and they were all "Yeah, poor guy, having to be hugged by all these adoring young ladies!" which is exactly what Robert himself was saying. When he still had about 30 to go, I asked him if he needed a break. He didn't.
Anita B. press office photographer kindly joined us for the occasion to take group and random photos. Then each fan could get her hug, autograph, chat and take a photo with him with her own cell or camera.
Many of the girls also gave him gifts for his birthday which was the week before and they piled up on the chair next to his jacket. I smiled and shook my head when one girl gave him a gift and he was about to open it right there in front of everybody and she had to yell at him "Not now!". Whoever you were, I'm sorry, he did that with me too in London but then I thought I had taught him not to do that anymore. I wasn't so sure about it though, so this time I chose to avoid the risk completely, that's why I gave mine to his mom and asked her to give it to him only after I was gone!
I admit I was a little worried about this meet & greet thing, my ears were still ringing from all the screams of TMI promotion but I must say my Roman girls made me proud, they understood the key was sharing him peacefully to make the most of it. They had already agreed who was going to take each other's pictures and guided by a funny man of the production, they tried to be quick, so to leave time for the next ones. This is why they were able to get so many fans in, including several with no invitation and many had the time to get multiple hugs, multiple photos and probably multiple... well, let's just leave it at that. None of them was screaming or pushing, so Rob seemed to be in a very good mood. He kept on speaking in Italian to us and being a clown and everything and he let them do whatever they asked him: to tell them about his other projects, signing their books, throw themselves in his arms, play with his curls like if he's our poodle...
The arrangement turned out to be ideal too: while one group was inside, the next group was already watching the whole scene from outside the open door of the press room preparing for the shock. So in the end, each group enjoyed its own five minutes and still got to see five more minutes of him from two steps away. That's a whole 10 minutes of Sheehan they won't forget and as I imagined, they're all saying that was the best day of their life now.
I'm very aware my dreams would have never come true if it wasn't for my musician's older groupies, so I have a tendency to put other fans' dreams before mine now. Because of that and because thanks to Rob's mom I had the priviledge to get a Sheehan-overdose without actually having to deal with Rob too much, I completely forgot about all the things I had planned to do. I never cared for photos with celebrities, I'm probably the fan who've met him the more times without ever asking for a photo (and yet, I'm still alive, can you imagine, girls?!) but I really wanted to ask him for a sound-check of Nikolai just for me right into my ear because I do have a weakness for Russian accents; I wanted to collect a birthday gift for Sophie @simplysheehan; I was supposed to ask if those we are currently seeing are Mark Anthony's curls for his next movie as I was instructed to do by @TheSheehab; but most importantly and most sickly, I wanted to touch my favourite part of him, his nose, and I cannot believe I forgot about that once again!
Anyway, when all the fans were gone and only me, Robert and the 3 guys were still there, Robert told me something that I don't remember (dammit! This is ridiculous!), then I informed him that while he was doing interviews, his mom had been walking around town with me, his own son's stalker, and I commented "What a family!", and by that I meant what a weird family The Sheehans are but he hugged me and said something about what a nice family we would be indeed. I hate him when pulls his romantic crap on me! But then I miss him when he's gone so I hate myself really.
He went resting before the evening premiere, I saw his mom again who had taken my advice to stay in the lobby to get a good wifi connection and I also met two fellow Roman goth girls who had met him at the play as well and had been waiting at the hotel all day to meet him again (and thankfully they succeeded).
The seral premiere only had a mini red carpet inside the cinema and the theatre was so packed many people had to leave. After the presentation, the cast left too because the movie was in Italian.
Now let me see, what am I forgetting? Well, this was most certainly my personal record: 14 miles from home, the shortest length I've ever travelled to go be a groupie!
Rob's learnt more Italian than I would have wanted him to and I think by now he can name all of TMI book titles in Italian. He says he was wearing womens Doc Martens. His pants yes, as Head Sheester Erinn was texting me when the first pictures came out, were very very tight. The girls at the meet & greet kept on saying how beautiful his knees were and the guys were puzzled, one asked me "The knees? But... why the knees?!", I said "Just leave it dude, we don't expect you to understand...".
It was a rather surreal day all in all. The web guy, who was still cute in the morning, looked 15 years older by the end of the day and after a whole week of dealing with Rob's fans! Oh by the way, when he met Rob that morning Rob said "Oh you're the web guy?! I've got some naked photos of me for you to post!". I wasn't very surprised. And before you ask yes, he was kidding, he didn't give him any naked photos. I checked. (Dammit!! Still, we live in hope lol! Erinn x)
Anyway, I need to see Anita B. again, even if it's in Italian this time, as there are parts of it I don't remember very well, especially because the movie was followed by all those hours of Robert's real self who made me forget what Eli's like!
I'm glad that we'll slowly go back to normal now. And by normal I mean you girls will do all the work to keep me posted and I'll just sit back and watch without having to lift a finger, like in the good old days, remember?! So if you need me, I'll be locked into the padded cell of The Sheehab, I need some time to recover. If you have any questions, the rehab reception is always open, ask them! I trust that you'll all make enough noise so you can get to see Anita B. in your local theatres as it goes without saying that I'll feel infinitely guilty until you'll all have got a chance to watch it too!