Saturday, December 12, 2009

The show folks: Mr. and Mrs. Smith

OSLO, Dec. 11, 10:32P, local time

Can't say that I have ever been a raving Will and Jada fan. Sometimes their smiles are just a little too broad, a little too Hollywood for a couple who came from hard-scrabble cities like Philadelphia and Baltimore, respectively. But tonight, I have to say they made me proud on a lot of levels. Consummate hosts and well-deserving to be on the world stage, they kept the show lively and props firmly on President Obama.

There had been some grumbling around town because the guest of honor skipped out on his own party. Some folks just called it rude. So whenever Will and Jada mentioned his name, there was a less-than-enthusiastic ovation . . . at first.

In the wisdom of the Nobel committee -- and I'm sure its public relations arm -- the live concert was interspersed with taped interviews Will and Jada conducted with the president, along with well wishes from fellow laureates, such as Archbishop Tutu, Al Gore, and Wangari Maathi. It all warmed up the crowd and soon, they were near their feet with applause. It was deft handling.

Excerpts:

Will Smith: This is the first time I've been nervous to be in front of a camera in a long time.
President Obama: Just think back to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Smith: At your address yesterday, you spoke about "moral imagination." Could you speak further about that?
Obama: That speaks to my ability to stand in your shoes.  To see through your eyes. That kind of ability, to imagine ourselves in different situations, helps us connect with other people. Hopefully, it helps drive us to do better on a whole host of other things.
Smith: Yeah, but if one guy understands you, and you understand the other guy, there's still only enough water for one of y'all.
Obama: Hopefully, it will bring us together to see how we can build a new well, rather than fight over the one we've got. Not only do we have to consider the consequences of action, but also the consequences of inaction.

Another segment brought even greater applause after Obama responded to Jada's question about what First Lady Michelle Obama brings to his decision-making.

Obama: She's the most honest person I know.
Will Smith: I was also going to say she looks good, too.
Obama: Well, you could have.
Smith: Michelle is very, very fine.
Obama: I know. What could I do?
Jada: You did the right thing.
Obama: That's right.
Smith: Yeah, you analyzed the information. Then you made the right decision.
Obama: Yeah, I married her.
[Laughter.Then back to serious business when asked if he's relishing this moment.]
Obama: The truth of the matter is, this is one of those things, I suspect, that you will appreciate more in retrospect.The pace has been so hectic. I haven't had a chance to pull back and say, 'This is extraordinary.' But I don't think it's time to pat yourself on the back. If I'm able to execute, make things a little bit better internationally and domestically, then I'll be able to savor this a little bit more.


Whereas the audience started off stiffly, even snorting at times, when Obama's name was mentioned, these taped segments started a sea change. Suddenly, applause crept up at the sound of "Obama." Guess they got over the hurt.

(Photo courtesy of the AP)

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