Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger knows what he wants—and usually gets it.
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"Let's do it again."
I decide it's time for me to go home.
Almost two weeks later, Stankard calls to say that Schwarzenegger is flying to Las Vegas the next morning. "Why don't you come along."
I know that Schwarzenegger has his own jet--a $12.5 million Gulfstream III. This could be fun.
"His plane?" I ask.
"Yes. We're wheels-up at 11:15."
I show up at Van Nuys Airport shorty before 11. Schwarzenegger and Stankard drive up 15 minutes later. Schwarzenegger, clad in yet another gray T-shirt--plus Levis and a blue blazer, the standard Hollywood dress-up outfit--bounds aboard and we're airborne by 11:25.
Schwarzenegger is flying to Las Vegas to appear with other 20th Century Fox movie stars, directors, producers and studio executives at the National Association of Theater Owners' ShoWest '96. The purpose of the trip is to get the theater owners, exhibitors and concessionaires from more than 70 countries excited about Fox's upcoming releases--in Schwarzenegger's case, Jingle All the Way, in which he plays a businessman too preoccupied with his work to pay attention to his family until--well, let's just say the movie provides Schwarzenegger with an excellent opportunity to advance his views on the importance of family (which is one of the reasons he's doing it). "We'll only be in Vegas for about an hour," Schwarzenegger says as we reach cruising speed. "I have to be back on the [Eraser] set this afternoon. Then I'll fly to Vegas again tomorrow for Warner Brothers to promote Eraser."
I ask about reports that he'll play the villainous Mr. Freeze in Warner Brothers' Batman and Robin, scheduled to begin filming in August. He says he'd love to do it, but he doesn't think that will work out; there's a conflict between it and With Wings As Eagles, written by Randall Wallace (who wrote Braveheart), which he's also scheduled to start filming in August, much of it in Europe, right after he finishes Jingle All the Way. (Two weeks later, Schwarzenegger decided that Mr. Freeze is too juicy a role to pass up; he took it and pushed With Wings As Eagles back to October.)
We chat some more, nibble on fresh fruit and cookies, and the next thing I know, we're on the ground, getting into a waiting limousine for the short drive to Bally's Las Vegas, where Schwarzenegger is hustled into a small room filled with Fox executives--and with so many movie stars that if a bomb went off, they might have to cancel next year's Oscars: Tom Hanks. Meg Ryan. Warren Beatty. Sigourney Weaver. Winona Ryder. Sandra Bullock. Morgan Freeman. Keanu Reeves. Jeff Goldblum.
Schwarzenegger chats up Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., Fox's parent company. He gives Bullock a hug and a kiss. He tries to persuade Ryan that she should play the still uncast role of his wife in Jingle All the Way. When she balks, he calls out the names of several Fox executives who have already left for the program that's about to begin. "Where are they?" he asks with mock chagrin. "I'm trying to make a deal here. I can't get any respect."
Beatty comes up, puffs out his chest and stands face-to-face with Schwarzenegger, pretending to compare physiques.
There is no comparison, of course.
After some more small talk and picture-taking, the stars and the rest of the executives are herded into a waiting area, then called one by one to a raised platform in front of an overflow audience of about 4,000. The movie exhibitors have been watching advance clips of Fox's big summer film Independence Day--and listening to "We're the greatest studio" pitches from the Fox brass. Now they get to meet--albeit, en masse and at a distance--not only George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, and James Cameron who directed Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2 and True Lies, but All These Stars.
There's a burst of applause as each one is introduced. Most just nod and shuffle to their seats. Only Schwarzenegger stops, smiles broadly and waves with both hands. When all the stars are seated, a Fox executive says a few final words, and the band breaks into martial music, in keeping with the Independence Day theme. Fireworks explode. "My first indoor fireworks show," Stankard says as we move quickly toward the exit, our "VIP All Access" badges warding off the very tight security.
Somehow, Schwarzenegger manages to be the first star to leave the platform. He's met by a security guard who's already barking into his cell phone: "I need Arnold's limo. Right now."
Schwarzenegger turns to him in mid-stride. "The pressure's on. My record for getting from a stage to a limo is a minute and 20 seconds. Think you can beat it?"
We all pick up the pace.
As we emerge from the hotel, the limo is waiting, doors open. Schwarzenegger slides into the back seat, looks at his watch and says, "A minute and 16 seconds." He nods approvingly and we're off.
"That Sandra Bullock," he says. "What a personality. I always wanted to meet her."
Stankard laughs. "Only Arnold," he says. "He never met her before, but did you see that kiss he gave her?"
Schwarzenegger readily acknowledges the pleasure he takes in flirtation and "a little patting on the ass" with attractive women. "It's like I always told you: He who hesitates...masturbates."