That Time Tom Hanks Saved Katie Finneran From On-Set Embarassment | Playbill

Seth Rudetsky That Time Tom Hanks Saved Katie Finneran From On-Set Embarassment

This week, Seth shares Tony Awards memories.

Tom Hanks and Katie Finneran

The trips keep a-happening! Right now, I’m on a plane over the Atlantic Ocean (more on that later). On Tuesday May 10th, I’m going to Santa Fe to do a comedy/belting concert with Ana Gasteyer and right after that, I head to Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco to do Seth’s Big Fat Broadway Show on Thursday May 12th and Friday May 13th. Yas, jet lag!

Last Friday, I flew to L.A. to meet James who had spent the last week there for some fancy meetings. Juli was on Spring Break from college, so she joined me on the flight. Juli is 21 and always showing me new things on my phone (aka TikTok) and, at this point, she’s the only person I know who “air drops” me photos. Anyhoo, we’re sitting on the plane, and I receive an air drop notification which I accepted. If you don’t know, one can take a photo on their phone and “air drop” it to a nearby phone. That person gets a notification and can accept it if they want. Well, when I saw an air drop notification while we were sitting on the plane, I naturally assumed it was from Juli. After I opened it, however, I realized it was decidedly not from her. It was a photo of the back of the photog/passenger’s seat and said, “To the girl in the brown gap hoodie & grey sweats, you are fine asf.” To get to the lady in question, this person had airdropped it to the entire plane! After I showed it to Juli, we both pondered who it could be. I first thought it was her because she was kind of wearing a hoodie…but I myself was wearing grey sweatpants. Juli finally queried, “Both of us combined?”

I posted the photo and story on my social media and my favorite response was from Stephen Spadaro who commented, “You are fine asf. Learn to take a compliment.” BRAVA!

After we got to L.A., we picked up our friend Jack and drove to Palm Springs so I could do a benefit for Desert AIDS Project which is a fantastic organization. It was hosted by Michael Urie and I played for Max von Essen and Eden Espinosa. Max and Eden didn’t sing a duet but did play opposite each other a few years ago when Max played Marvin and Eden played Trina in the Falsettos tour.

While we were rehearsing, I asked Max about being nominated for a Tony Award for An American In Paris and he said that the whole experience was incredible. Some people I’ve spoken to tell me that the month leading up the awards is exhausting, but Max said it was incredible! He loved the non-stop luncheons and nominee events. He was completely freaking out seeing stars he had always looked up to coming over him and tell him they loved his performance. And often people tell me that the whole thing was a blur, Max said he remembers every moment.

I have never been nominated, but there was a year the SiriusXM was sponsoring a contest which gave the winner two tickets to the Tony Awards and the opportunity to be escorted by me. Well, I’ll never forget meeting the winners who were decidedly nonplussed at the “opportunity to be escorted by me.” We walked down the red carpet and they definitely kept their excitement upon meeting me in check. Basically, complete silence. Perhaps they were shy being around such a huge star as myself? Well, finally, at the end of the walk, they asked if I would take a photo. Finally! I thought. They’ve gotten past their shyness and now they’re going to post this photo all over social media, bragging that they were escorted by none other than Mr. Seth Rudetsky. Well, I should have read the fine print. Or, more to the point, their subtext. When they asked me to “take a photo,” they were literally asking me to take a photo. Their photo. Yep, they promptly handed me their phone and posed while I snapped a few shots of them. All in all, compared to Max, my experience was sub-par.

Max opened the event with some Lerner and Loewe and Rogers and Hammerstein and Eden came on later with an amazing “Defying Gravity.” She, however, could not defy the heat. It was mid-90s in Palm Springs and the event was outside. Eden, unfortunately, thought it was going to take place inside and was sporting a top that had (faux) fur. She was basically a walking oven.

I haven’t finished recapping all the amazing things that happened during our Ukraine telethon on Stars In The House. I had written last week that we had a bunch of The Gilded Age peeps, and now I feel the need to share some Katie Finneran stories I love.

One of her very first movie roles was in You’ve Got Mail, and she had a really hard moment in Riverside Park that wound up having a happy ending. In the scene, she had to run down a hill and talk to Tom Hanks, but when they started filming and she would get to the bottom of the hill, she kept being off her mark. Basically, she had to be in a very specific spot after running downhill or else the camera couldn’t film her, but she wasn’t allowed to look for that spot or else it would be caught on film. They did a few takes and she kept missing it and was mortified. Finally, the man who saved the day was… Tom Hanks! No one seemed to be able (willing?) to help her until the star himself suggested a crew member get a sandbag. Apparently, that’s an old filming trick. The sandbag was put right next to Katie’s mark and that did it! When she ran down the hill, she was able to feel where the sandbag was without looking down and she landed right on her mark. Tom Hanks is an Oscar winner and a nice guy.

Katie is dyslexic, like my daughter Juli, and we commiserated about how kids will often do anything not to admit they can’t read. When Katie was in Elementary School, each of her classmates was assigned a short little book to read. After it was read, they then had to do a short verbal book report. Well, Katie got Cinderella and could not read it at all. So, when it was her turn, she got up and simply made up a story. Dyslexics can be very creative. Her teacher told her that, while it was an interesting story, it was decidedly not the story of Cinderella. Instead of ‘fessing up, Katie told her that it might not be the story of Cinderella…but it was the story she read. Katie explained that there must have been a problem at the factory and that’s why her book was printed with that story. Brava on the “yes and” Groundlings-level improv!

If you have a kid who is not enjoying school and hates doing homework, they might be dyslexic. Kids do not want to admit they are having trouble reading so they often act out. Thankfully, James’ mother is a dyslexia expert and taught Juli how to read…and now Juli’s a sophomore in college! Check out my mother-in-law’s website:

Okie doke! As I said before, I’m over the Atlantic. I’m on a flight to Portugal, and then a shorter one to Barcelona where I’m going to be boarding a cruise around Italy. I want to go back to reading Randy Rainbow’s new book, Playing With Myself. I love it!

I’ll write next time from Europe!

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