Chapter 1: The Most Coveted Job in the World
Chapter 2: A Change in Responsibilities
Chapter 3: Every Captain Must Have His Mother Brain
Chapter 4: Enter Captain Nintendo
Chapter 5: Captain Nintendo Lives
Chapter 6: The Captain Goes Hollywood
Chapter 7: The Real Power Behind Captain Nintendo
Chapter 8: New Worlds to Conquer and a New Superpower!
Chapter 9: The Last Adventure

In the spring of 1989, I was given an assignment to write about the upcoming Batman movie (seeing as how I was the resident superhero expert) as part of our “relevant entertainment section” to pre-promote the upcoming associated video game release by Sunsoft. I called Warner Brothers publicity department and spoke to a lovely, competent, and very professional lady named Luann that I would work with over the telephone for a few months and with whom I eventually became friends.

Now, those of you old enough will remember that this film was a BIG deal. It had been over ten years since the first Superman movie and nothing of Batman had surfaced since the unfortunate, but fondly-remembered television show of the 60s. Reportedly, Warner Brothers/DC Comics had been trying to get a Batman project off the ground since 1978, so there was an enormous publicity push behind this film. This was THE motion picture event of 1989.

Anxious to take advantage of free publicity in a magazine with a 2 million plus circulation, Luann was very co-operative and supplied me with insider info and transparency publicity stills (slides) from the film (which was to premiere the following June). She was invaluable when it came to helping me with things like trademark criteria.

One of the features of the early issues of Nintendo Power was a snazzy poster that was related to a game that was featured in that issue. I thought it would be cool if we did a Batman poster for the issue that carried the review of the Batman game. Typically, we always worked two or three months ahead on Nintendo Power, sometime more. So, I sketched out a design for the poster. Now, I know that I’m no artist. Never pretended to be. But I can sketch well enough that it can be presented to a real artist so that he can perform the illustrative expertise that I lack. And that’s what happened. The dragon agreed with the Batman poster idea. She actually liked the sketch and it was sent to one of Japan’s foremost artists, a man named Omurhi. From the sketch (and after a few translated phone conversations with me), he created an oil painting. From the painting, smaller prints were made to fit the three-page foldout size in the magazine.

During this time, I found out that Warner Brothers had a strict policy regarding any artwork associated with the campaign, i.e. that ONLY artwork from DC Comics was approved for release in association with the campaign. Gulp. So, we sent down a print of the poster. Warner Brothers loved it. It wouldn’t run until the October issue, but Luann told me later that the Warner execs said that “of the two hundred plus products associated with the film’s campaign, that poster was the most spectacular.” Apparently, the success of the poster was so great that Mr. Omurhi sent me a same-size print of the original oil painting and a smaller original oil painting of a bust of Batman in appreciation for the sketch. Well, I was beyond flattered. I was honored. What a class act. To this day, the oil painting gift hangs in the main hallway in my house and the print of the original hangs in a an expensive frame on my office wall behind my desk. It is definitely a conversation starter when anyone walks into the office and sees this large portrait of Batman in an otherwise typical office building.

But in the spring of ‘89, as the premiere approached and ads began to appear on television and at the movies, excitement for this film built to a frenzy. Luann kept me informed as to the details of the Hollywood premiere. Once, in passing, I mentioned how cool it was going to be and said something like, “Send me some pictures.” Luann then asked, “You want to come?” The next few minutes are a blank. I think I mumbled something like, “Oh. My. God. I’ll have to check my schedule and let you know.” She said that there were 600 tickets reserved for the premiere (and, as I recall, Nicholson had already scarfed most of them), but that she thought she could scrounge me a couple if I could make it to Hollywood. Obviously, my mind began to try to figure out how I was going to make the trip. But, then I remembered: I work for Nintendo. I can’t afford cabfare to the airport, let alone a ticket to California!” But I left it open hoping there might be some miracle. After I hung up, I was still in shock and quickly sinking into depression as I realized that the odds were very much against my going.

Just then, I ran into my mentor who could see that something was wrong. I told her that Luann had said I could have two tickets to the premiere if I could make it. Then I related the financial problem that was the monkey wrench in the works. And then, this wonderful woman, this generous angel, said, “Listen, I’ve got some frequent flyer miles you can have. I’ll never use them. And you’ve GOT to go. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You HAVE to go!”

I couldn’t believe it. Still, I’d been brought up to refuse charity. And it kicked in. “Oh, that’s very nice, but I couldn’t.”


“That’s very generous, but I couldn’t use up your frequent flyer miles.”

“Don’t be silly. I’ll never use them. And I can’t think of a better use for them. I know how much this means to you. You’re going. Call Luann and confirm. I’ll call the airlines and book your ticket. Go. Have the time of your life and bring me back pictures. Maybe you can write about it for Power. Go.”

I’ve met a lot of crappy people in my career. Hell, in this life. A lot of them. I’ve been witness to a lot of despicable conduct. It’s overwhelming. It’s defeating. Almost. But, it is the kindness in people like my mentor that is the fuel that keeps my soul burning.

So, in June, I went. And it was surreal. Warner Brothers via Luann couldn’t have been nicer. Her assistant picked me up at the hotel and delivered me to the premiere. Now, I may be a city boy at heart, but I was born just a hillbilly from the Ozarks, so I thought at premieres, you are supposed to wear a tuxedo. I’d spent my last “disposable” income to rent a very sharp tux and was ready to mingle.

Well, apparently, by the summer of 1989, tuxedos at a Hollywood premiere was something out of a 50s movie and very cliché. Everyone else was dressed nice, but nothing formal. What you’d call business casual or dress casual. And here I am (a nobody) in a monkey suit. Believe me, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t blend. Somehow, I didn’t care that much and the thrill of just being there replaced any embarrassment.

The premiere actually took place in two theatres in two separate buildings on adjoining corners. The police had roped off the entire block and the studio had placed red carpet over the street and sidewalk. And I was given a program. The police said that as long as we held on to our programs and stayed on the red carpet, we would be fine. If we went off the red carpet, they would be unable to assure our safety. If we lost our program, we wouldn’t be allowed inside the theatres. The police were excellent in managing to keep the crowd of 8000 people behind the ropes.

Luann’s assistant was my escort and we walked around the red carpet stargazing. There were plenty of stars at which to gaze, too. Surreal is the only word I can find. But, though my head was swirling, my eyes fixed on the red carpet. I was not getting off the red carpet. “I may never get off this red carpet.”

The assistant introduced me to the Suits. That is my name for several of the Warner Brothers bigwigs with whom we enjoyed the film Very nice gentlemen who seemed to know exactly who I was and were more than cordial to someone that (for all intents and purposes) didn’t really matter to them (at least, I thought I didn’t matter). I found out from the assistant that they were interested in my reactions since I was going to write the review for the Batman video game that would be released soon. Royalties from merchandising of a franchise like the Batman results in gazillions of dollars for the owner. A good review means more sales. More sales means more royalty money.

We went inside to wait for the movie. I couldn’t see, but (I was told) that further down on my row was Billy Crystal and further to the right was Barbra Streisand. Fours rows back and ten seats to the right sat Sylvester Stallone. Sly and his lovely date were surrounded by bodyguards. Most everyone in the theatre were Hollywood types and used to that sort of thing, so they kept their distance and gave Sly his privacy. However, one little boy, about 8 or 9 years old approached with a piece of paper and pen. The bulk of the premiere attendees in the theatre held their breath, wondering how the bodyguards were going to handle this little boy, but Sly motioned them to part and motioned the kid forward. He smiled and signed the autograph for the little boy and patted him on the head. The entire theatre erupted in applause. Not often you get to see this side of some people. Sly is a class act. Quick sidebar: I once had corresponded indirectly with Mr. Stallone regarding a screenplay I’d written entitled “Harvey II” that had done well at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, but we’d never met and, as badly as I wanted to touch base with him, this obviously wasn’t the opportunity, so I remained seated with the Suits and the assistant.

One other observation: You know how you go to the movies and before they lower the lights, some kids will run up and down the asiles? Same thing here, except that the kids were the cast from the sitcom, Head of the Class. Tell me that’s not surreal.

Then the house went dark and the movie began. As the credits rolled, each name was embraced with applause. Not just the stars, but writers, cameramen, producers, and, of course, the director. And the movie played out. Nicholson stole it, course. Though, with that make-up and the writing stilted toward his character, it would have been hard not to steal it. But, for me, it was the Batman’s gadgetry that salvaged the movie. When the lights came up (actually before they were all the way up), the Suits asked me for my opinion. They had been so nice to me and they’d spent all this money on the movie and promoting it, I just didn’t have the heart to tell them that I thought Michael Keaton was a horrible choice for Batman. So I didn’t. I talked up Nicholson. Mostly, I talked up the gadgets and the imagery. I really talked up the Batmobile (I still want that car). I gave a nod to Tim Burton’s grim approach to Gotham, which was a welcome contrast to the primary-colored festiveness of the unfortunate television program (even though I’m anything but a Tim Burton fan). I summarized by telling them that they had a certified hit. That Batman fans and non-Batman fans alike would be very happy with this film. The Suits breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief, actually in unison.

I thanked the Suits for their generous hospitality and then I thanked the assistant for all her efforts on my behalf and asked her to thank Luann and tell her that I’d be in touch. As I headed for the exit, I could see through the glass doors that the paparazzi was just outside en masse trying to get reactions from the patrons who were the lucky first to see the long anticipated Batman movie—especially the celebrities. Flashbulbs were popping to the point it looked like a strobe effect. One of the paparazzi pushed his nose up against the glass of the exit doors to try to peer inside. I heard him say to his colleague, “Hey, Mitchie, get this one coming out. He’s in a tux.” I couldn’t hear Mitchie’s response, but the paparazzi guy said, “I dunno, but he’s in a tux. He must be somebody.”

That’s when I decided to have a little fun. I stuck the program in front of my face as though I was desperately trying to avoid the cameras. Of course, every camera instantly zeroed in on me and, had it not been for the program, I would likely be blinded to this day. At the peak of this swarm, I quickly lowered the program and flashed my stupidest smile. The shooting immediately ceased. You could hear murmurs of, “What the hell?” and “Who is…?” as they all looked bewildered at each other. It was priceless. And then, they quickly prepared for the next carcass…er, victim…er, fresh meat to come through the doors. I never made it into the pages of People magazine, but I was standing 3 feet from Kim Basinger when the picture that People published of her was snapped. What I’m trying to convey is that I was definitely in a world that I was not used to. However, even without the overstimulation of the crowds and the police and the red carpet and the paparazzi and the limos and the stars, it would have been a heady experience—just standing 3 feet from Kim Basinger. It still would.

I went back to the hotel and could hardly sleep. It WAS surreal, but there was amazing logic to it all as well. And a bizarre familiarity, too. An odd sense of belonging that I haven’t experienced either before or since. But my mentor was wrong about one thing: She will NEVER know how much getting to go to the biggest Hollywood premiere of its time meant to me. Class act. She still is.

Next chapter: The Real Power Behind Captain Nintendo