Starstruck in Waltham
When it was Martin's turn, he didn't disappoint. The festival coordinator introduced him by saying what award he was there to present, but really, "how do you measure ... measure a year?" And then Martin just riffed for five minutes on his good friend, talking about her unparalleled ability to curse, about her having been on Pee-Wee's Playhouse (as Reba the mail lady), and about their car accident earlier in the day — making sure to show off that he was fine. Then Merkerson took the stage and the two became a classic comedy duo. There was a winking admission that she always brings her "brother" Jesse L. Martin with her because she only seems to get press coverage when he's with her. And Merkerson also revealed that she initially thought she was getting an award from Barnard College, which is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But she and Martin were excited to arrive in Boston and to have a white stretch limo waiting for them, courtesy of the festival. "I said to Jesse, 'We're going to the prom!'" she recalled. She did her S. Epatha Merkerson thing, which we all saw when she won the Golden Globe, the SAG award, and the Emmy, only here it was looser and more profane, and just plain funny. Clearly, both felt like this was the most random thing they'd done in a long time. I'm sure there'll be a video clip on the SunDeis web site soon.
Also in attendance were Anita Hill (left), now a Brandeis professor, who acted as official ambassador for the university before the show began, and lifetime achievement award recipients Celeste Holm (Gentleman's Agreement, above) and Margaret O'Brien (Meet Me in St. Louis). For a student film festival in Waltham, Mass., it was an impressive evening.