LA Film Festival Screening of
Wilderness Survival for Girls
June 25th, 2004.
Field report by: Kimberley Heljenek (a.k.a. Rusalka)


I attended the screening with Lee Ann, the chairperson of the Prey Community (Prey was a short lived series on ABC that James guest starred on in 1998). For details on the movie, see the review in the Cinema section.

James joined the Q&A session following the film. He was dressed in a gray thermal pullover and baggy light colored slacks. Somehow, he still managed to look pretty good. How does he DO that? He wore rimless glasses on stage, which gave him a professorial kind of look.

He looked over the audience, and as is his gift, managed to make me feel like he’d looked directly at me and noticed me. I know he didn’t, but he does have that knack when he’s talking to large groups, I’ve heard others comment on it. He was by far the most interesting of the speakers, actually made up an interesting answer to what had been a boring question from the audience. Someone had asked how the actors got involved with the project. The three girls noted that they’d auditioned for and gotten the parts…one of them actually apologized for having a boring answer. James claimed that he had gone to the writers four years ago and asked that they create a role for him that would allow him to work alone with three beautiful young women, and that they’d come through. Everyone laughed, and the three girls blushed…yes, he does have that affect, too.

I got Lee Ann to back me up with the camera and intercepted him on the way out. Well, I waited patiently while several other people intercepted him, then managed to swallow my shyness (yes, no matter what James may think, I really am kind of shy) and interrupt. I reminded him that we had met three years ago and showed him the photo taken of us by Dan Kim of the 99th Dragonslayers. I asked if he would mind posing for a new picture as I’d changed so much. The old picture can be viewed under the Agamemcon V Encounter report. He looked at the photo, looked at me, did a double take then said, "My, you certainly have changed." For the many of you who haven’t been in the loop on this, I’ve lost over 150 pounds since the first picture was taken.

Now many people who are seeing me for the first time in a few years automatically assume I lost all of the weight on purpose, and immediately congratulate me and tell me how much better I look. That always bugs me, I wonder what they’d do or say if I’d lost it because I’d had a devastating illness, or maybe even was dying. Can you picture that happening? "Wow, you look great, you’ve lost so much weight!" "Thanks, I’m dying of *insert terminal condition of choice here*." I expected that James would have more sensitivity, and he did not disappoint me.

After his "My, you certainly have changed," comment, the first thing out of his mouth was a concerned sounding "How are you feeling?" I gave him a big smile and assured him I was feeling great. He relaxed, then made nice about the change and posed for the new photo. As usual, he was very personable, asked for our names, and made us feel that we were important to him. There were more people waiting to speak with him, so we thanked him and let him move on fairly quickly.

On a side note, James seemed like he was definitely focused elsewhere, as though he were sad or concerned about something else going on in his life. This was a big difference from his visit to Agamemcon V where he was totally there and in the moment, and seemed very pleased to be there. I hope everything is well with him and his, and that he just had some momentary concerns that don’t amount to anything important.

Rusalka, who is working on losing another 100 pounds.


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