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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 April 2006, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Fans hope for goodwill from stars
By Kevin Young
BBC News entertainment reporter

Tom Cruise meets fans at the Mission Impossible 3 premiere in London
Tom Cruise has a reputation for spending lots of time with fans

When Tom Cruise spent four hours talking to fans at the UK premiere of Mission: Impossible III on Tuesday, it was not entirely unexpected from an actor who will devote large chunks of time to the public.

"It's just becoming increasingly part of the deal with premieres, and possibly that's because Cruise is setting this example in his super A-list position," says Helen O'Hara from Empire magazine.

"Will Smith is another who does hugely long walkabouts around the entire crowd. In fact, one time he was in London recently, he also put on a concert for the crowd, and I think even Tom Cruise would have to do quite a few more hours to beat that."

But how do other celebrities behave when invited to interact - and how easy is it for people to meet their favourite stars?

'One shot'

One of the attractions of film premieres is the rare access they provide to Hollywood stars. Music fans can wait at stage doors or attend world tours, but as Ms O'Hara points out, with actors, "you've got one shot per film to see them".

Will Smith on the red carpet at the Kids' Choice Awards in Los Angeles
Will Smith is considered to go out of his way to meet his public
A number of companies organise autograph fairs and celebrity conventions to enable fans to pay to meet their favourite stars, especially TV actors.

Five stars from the real-time drama 24 are promised at a convention in London in May, for instance, while Brian Cooney, an organiser at Wolf Events in the UK, is working towards shows with cast members from sci-fi series Alias, Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1.

"If they're a theatre actor, they get applause, but if they're a TV actor, somebody yells 'cut' and they never know what people think of their work," he says.

"When they turn up at an event, it gives them the opportunity to get the feedback to what they've done, so it's very personal."

Mr Cooney also says access to celebrities can vary by country. "I've been told by people who've recently been to a US event that we totally spoil them.

Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever
Sean Connery would devote time towards the James Bond fan club
"Here, the actors tend to have photo opportunities with the fans, they will overrun their talk times and exceed their signing times excessively because they want to get through everybody."

Support of celebrities

David Black, who chairs the 2,000-member James Bond International Fan Club, also believes stars and directors acknowledge his organisation's efforts.

"My predecessor did invite Sean Connery to something, and he actually did bother to phone up. Certainly I know I've seen letters here from some of the directors, who do appreciate the fans' point of view and thank us for writing the magazine, so the audience is remembered."

However, there can be disappointment among fans when their favourite celebrities cut short appearances on the red carpet - even if they have a good excuse.

"I don't know of any stars who would do that as a general rule but I think there are stars who have done it on occasion for whatever reason," says Ms O'Hara.

"Usually it's tiredness, because they've either just flown in from the States or have done interviews all day and can't face three hours of walkabouts.

"Also there's the weather, especially in Britain. If it's pouring with rain, there are some people who won't do it and scurry on inside the cinema," she adds. "But having said that, I think it has become part of the game that they do make the effort at least."
The 2002 Bafta Awards, when rain left the red carpet foaming
The British weather can deter stars from lingering on the red carpet

Stars are 'perceptive'

Mr Cooney agrees that most of the celebrities he deals with are perceptive enough to understand they will receive more invitations if they're outgoing and friendly, because "they will get a reputation for being a good guest".

There are the odd actors "who want to do their allotted time and then head for the door", he says, but he tends to avoid approaching those demanding high appearance fees or who will put in only minimum effort.

However, Mr Black suggests that there is a certain air of mystery about film stars being aloof and unavailable - and thinks perhaps it should stay that way.

"Maybe people don't want their movie stars to be an everyday, humdrum person who's shopping in Woolworths," he says.

"Maybe they would rather be at a bit of a distance. Maybe Tom Cruise is breaking with tradition by coming back in and talking to the people."

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