Ellen DeGeneres received an on-air mini-surprise party for her birthday today. Colin Farrell gave her a T-shirt with a photo of him kissing her (who wouldn't want that!), Julia Roberts gave her a necklace, and Pink performed. But A-listers weren't the only ones making special plans for Ellen's 53rd.
Renda Writer, a Boca Raton poet and editor of WeMerge magazine, hosted the Ellen Art Show on Saturday in Miami (read more about it here). Local artists painted 30 portraits of the talk-show host, and Writer used the proceeds to fly to L.A. to wish DeGeneres a happy birthday by giving her several of the paintings -- and, of course, to work every angle toward his ultimate goal of performing his poem, Half Hearted, on her show. Writer has been working to that end since 2007 and estimates he has sent DeGeneres more than 40 letters and gifts. So what did he do when he arrived in L.A. Sunday morning, you ask. Well...
One of his first stops was Priscilla's Gourmet Coffee and Tea, a café close to the Ellen DeGeneres Show's studio. Employees must get their coffee there, right? As Writer worked at his computer, he overheard a man talking about someone flying to L.A. for DeGeneres' birthday. The man had no idea he was sitting in the same coffee shop as another person who came to surprise DeGeneres. Turns out, he was probably talking about Colin Farrell, but the conversation piqued Writer's interest.
"This shit was not placed in front of me for no reason," Writer says. So he approached the man on his way out. He was a public relations specialist who had booked guests on Oprah. Writer emailed him the next morning [Monday] and had another chance encounter with him at Priscilla's that afternoon. This time, the man gave Writer the cold shoulder, barely acknowledging him. Writer's success at performing his poetry on the Ellen would not come that easily.
The South Florida poet hand-delivered portraits of DeGeneres from the art show to the package reception area for the Ellen DeGeneres Show's studio. He included a letter about his goal of performing on her show and his business cards. Employees assumed he was a courier, but he explained that the package was coming directly from him. Later, he thought a courier might provide a worthwhile new approach, so he had a package including another portrait picked up at Priscilla's and delivered less than a mile away to the studio. So far, Writer has given Ellen paintings by four local artists: Patrick Garcia, Carlos Solano, Rei Ramirez, and Wendy White. Today, he will give her portraits by Kyle Willis and Katie Sottak.
All over L.A., he has been spreading business cards that tell the story of his quest to perform on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, as well as promoting his trip on Facebook and YouTube, detailing every step he takes toward his goal. This morning, he called the studio's number for last-minute tickets, but despite several voice-mails, a ticket did not materialize.
Writer slept at a hostel Sunday night and in his rental car last night. He says he's too focused to stay with his friends in L.A. "I slept in my car last night outside of Mel's Drive In, on Sunset Blvd," Writer says in an email update. "I woke up in the middle of the night and went inside to go to the bathroom, and who do I see sitting at a table??
"None other than infamous porn star Ron Jeremy."
Well, at least the trip hasn't been a complete loss. But will Writer reach his actual goal? We'll continue updating.
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In the meantime, here's a video of Writer paging through a scrapbook he made of the Ellen Art Show.
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