The clock was ticking, and Avatar mania was at a fever pitch. It was a Wizard of Oz-like moment, a milestone for moviemaking. Under Ed's watch, I obsessed over "unobtanium" and the living planet Pandora. I spoke to anyone involved with the movie, from the creator of the Na'vi language to the dude who says "your REAL legs." People read it. I wrote more. The window for landing my big interview narrowed. And then I got the call.
On a Saturday, a few weeks before Avatar's release, my advocate at the studio would put Cameron on the phone with me after a day of meetings. And I'd be prepared to take the call from home. Easy.
This is where it becomes important to remember it's 2009. For me to record a phone call for eventual transcription, I had to pull a Linda Tripp and attach a little doohickey from Radio Shack onto my (cough) land line telephone. Or I would have if I had a modern phone -- mine was vintage. For whatever reason, I couldn't record off of it. Not a problem. In times of special need, I would drag out an enormous late-'80s fax machine that fit my recorder. Because the fax machine has a short, specific phone jack, I could only plug it in on the very far end of my sizable railroad apartment. Keep this image in mind.
Avatar Saturday comes. I've got a stack of insightful questions ready to go. James Cameron would call at noon, then my seven or eight minutes would begin. Every second counted. I waited and ran through my questions. I waited some more. Then noon passed. No Cameron.
At 12:30pm, I send an email. At 12:45, his handler responds. "He's tied up, we're calling soon, hang in there."
Now it's 1pm. Now it's 1:30pm. Another email: "Any minute." Now it's 2pm. Now it's, ugh, it's 2:26.
I'm pacing, I'm sweaty, I'm frantic. Ed e-mails, asking about the call. He promised his boss that we would drop a huge bomb this weekend. I'm pacing more. More time passes, and I feel something in my stomach. A few more minutes, and I can no longer ignore my digestive system. I need to void my bowels.
I can't do this now, that's ridiculous, James Cameron is about to take time away from transforming cinema to call me -- ME -- right here at home, on my antiquated fax machine with my Linda Tripp recorder attachment.
It's 2:51. It's 3:06. Any minute, any minute. It's 3:29. Oh God, I'm gonna blow. I gotta go. I'm gonna run to the bathroom, respond to the call of nature as quickly as humanly possible, and run back across the apartment to give the greatest interview in the history of entertainment journalism.
I race to the bathroom, drop my trousers around my ankles, sit on the bowl, and just as I am about to commence the act: BRRRRRRRRRNNNNNGGGGGGGGG!
Say what you will about Cameron -- he's got a knack with timing.