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Oh, how I love this movie, so my Saturday night was made when I happened upon it on TMC. (Commercial-free!)

I’ve often referred to this as my “Movie I Just Need to See, Occasionally” — and it had been a while since I’d seen it, and I didn’t even realize I needed to see it, and there it was.

Tonight, I was reminded, again, how great everyone is in his or her role … and, tonight, I felt a newfound appreciation for Judd Hirsch and Donald Sutherland.

I also noticed, tonight, for the first time, how this film reminded me (a little) of Good Will Hunting (mostly, the relationship between Conrad/Dr. Berger and Will/Sean Maguire) and, later, of American Beauty (Beth’s suppressed breakdown when she’s getting her suitcases out of the closet vs. Carolyn’s full-on collapse over Lester’s shirts in the closet).

I remember reading Ordinary People in Grandma Ginny’s Reader’s Digest condensed-version form (she used to get actual “condensed” books) long before I ever saw the film. And I’ve always considered this an example of a film being far better than the book. (Perhaps I’d feel differently if I had read the full version?)

So, during our weekend visit to Chicago — known as the Windy City, we explained to Kameron, as gusty winds threatened to lift him off the ground whilst walking along State Street! — we also had an opportunity for a “Brush with Fame” when we happened upon a film crew just a block from our hotel.

Not that seeing a film crew is all that out of the ordinary in Chicago. A few years ago, we saw Bruce Willis on Wacker Drive, shooting a scene from Mercury Rising (I never saw the actual movie.) A year or two after that, we saw a bunch of trailers, some cameras and lights, and Sherry asked one of the guys wearing a “Security” shirt what was going on.

“He told me they’re shooting a film with Edward Asner in it,” Sherry said. “And Jason Alexander … whoever that is.”

Whoever THAT is?

“That’s George Costanza!” I squealed.

We waited around for a few minutes, but no George. No Lou Grant, either. (I just checked IMDB: The name of the movie they were filming is The Man Who Saved Christmas. I’ve never seen it, either.)

I’ve seen a few other actors in ChiTown, too: James Kiberd (Trevor Dillon from All My Children) and his wife, Susan Keith (Shana Sloane from Loving — which I only watched for a season or two), strolling arm-in-arm down Michigan Avenue (I suspect Diane and I were the only ones in the city who would have recognized them), and, during that same trip, Brendan Fraser, shopping at Niketown. (Coincidentally, we had just recently seen him in the film School Ties … and, is it just me, or would it be MUCH easier if his name were Brandon Frazier?) Plus, one other time at Niketown, I’m pretty sure I saw Christina Ricci.

Then there was the random celebrity sighting in Daytona Beach, Fla., when my traveling companions and I saw the cast of Revenge of the Nerds as we were leaving our hotel; apparently, they were there filming the Nerds in Paradise sequel. I, of course, had not seen Revenge of the Nerds, so I was completely unfazed — yet willing to walk up to a man my cohorts knew only as “Booger” and ask him for his autograph. (His real name is Curtis Armstrong. I had him address the autograph “To Betty” — Patti’s mom; Betty saved it all this time and, after her death, it was among her belongings and Patti sent it to me.)

I’ve also met John Malkovich (mainly because I’ve worked in the same office with his mom, older brother and youngest sister) and Michelle Pfeiffer (she is more beautiful in person than onscreen, even). I’ve gotten autographs from a few random sports stars, most of them tennis players whose names are unpronounceable (is that even a word). I’ve also had some “Could it be …?” brushes with fame, like the time Sherry was convinced the guy sitting in the bar of the restaurant in Cancun was Tom Arnold (he looked NOTHING like Tom Arnold, I discovered during a walk-by), or when Patti used to come up with these celebrity look-alikes — e.g. “Don’t look now, but it’s former child actor Immanuel Lewis,” she’d say in a conspiratorial whisper when a somewhat short black man walked past our table at Marty’s.

Anyhoo, on Saturday, we saw this guy:

Timothy Hutton

And that’s pretty much what Diane said when she saw him standing across the street from all the cameras and lights and soundboards.

“There’s that guy!” Diane said. “I don’t know who he is, but he’s an actor!”

I glanced over to where she was pointing. “Wow! That’s Timothy Hutton,” I said. “I love him.”

Well, OK, love might be an exaggeration; however, I do love the film Ordinary People, and I do love Timothy Hutton in it, so … yeah, maybe I do love him. Just a little, anyway.

I started snapping away. Meanwhile, members of the film crew kept telling us we couldn’t take pictures, couldn’t use flash, couldn’t take videos, blah blah blah. (If I were really techno-savvy, I would’ve filmed a little snippet using my camera’s video feature and could’ve posted a YouTube clip … but nooooooo. All you get are pictures from me, baby!)

Timothy Hutton & Blurry Man

By the way, a few minutes later, Timothy Hutton was using that stick or club or telescope (?) to smash the windows out of three cars that were parked along Monroe Avenue.

We told Karl and Sherry about our “Brush with Fame” a few minutes later. They were visibly unimpressed because they assumed they had no idea who Timothy Hutton was.

“What’s he been in?” Karl asked.

Ordinary People,” I said. “The Falcon and the Snowman.”

Karl stared at me. “Anything else?”

“Uhhhh …”

I showed them the pictures I’d taken, and they realized that yes, they had, indeed, seen Timothy Hutton in something … they just couldn’t remember what.

Hours later, I would also think of Taps, but I didn’t even bother sharing that title. And, when we returned to Southern Illinois Sunday evening, guess what actor we ran across, starring in a movie called Beautiful Girls, on Lifetime?

That’s right: Timothy Hutton!

August 2020

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