Our main man Jason Bateman kept his fans on their toes last week (me included!), as he and the rest of the Ozark cast and crew descended upon NYC and the talk show circuit to celebrate the upcoming series finale. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the last half of the last season of the dark drama hits Netflix on April 29.
The media whirlwind began Thursday morning at Good Morning America’s studio in Times Square. Do I even deserve to live in NYC if I didn’t wake up at 4 am to be there? And because I mistakenly assumed everyone else in the city would be doing the same, I dragged myself out of bed and over to Time Square (in my SmartLess tour T-shirt, obviously) only to spend more than an hour alone in the dark outside a pretty empty studio.
I’d scoured the internet for intel on the GMA taping process or the possibility of a studio audience, but I couldn’t find anything with post-Covid details. So when a camera man walked outside to lay down some wiring, I walked over and asked him how the whole thing worked.
He told me that taping starts at 7 am, and some of the hosts may come out and say hello. When I said I was there specifically for Jason Bateman and wondered if standing outside behind these rails was in fact the best I could do, he frowned and said, “Oh he’ll be upstairs, you’re not going to see him.” I thanked him for breaking my heart and went back to my post outside the studio windows to think about what I’d done.
Eventually a couple from Atlanta joined me, holding a sign announcing the wife (a devout GMA viewer and huge fan of host Robin Roberts) was celebrating her 59th birthday. Then we gained a couple with their precious little girl from Louisiana, with their sign declaring they shared their alma mater with Robin. A security guard showed up on the other side of the rails at some point as well. He was super friendly, called me a teenager when asking where I was from (give the man an award!), and spilled some behind-the-scenes tea with us while we waited for the taping to start. He also confirmed that pre-Covid, they were able to have a live audience upstairs, but now the studio had been remodeled.
As 7 am approached, the hosts filed in and walked over to the big windows to interact with the small crowd that gathered outside. Not long after taping began, a staff member came over and told us to follow him if we wanted to meet and take a photo with Robin. Why not, right? So I followed the leader around the corner to a side door out of which Robin appeared. She chatted with the fairly short line of fans, taking photos with each. After my photo opp, I walked back to where I started…And the wheels started turning. If that’s where Robin popped out, wouldn’t that likely also be where Jason would enter and exit the building? Hmmmm, if I knew I wasn’t going to see him standing in front of the first-floor windows, why not take my chances standing by this side door instead? Solid plan, so I walked back around the corner with a lovely lady and her daughter from Rochester.
We walked up to some different rails, where two young guys were standing. I honestly thought they were security, so I asked if Jason had already entered the building. They said I missed Jason’s entrance, but he what goes in must come out, right? I said, ok I’ll just hang our here with y’all then. Turns out, they were not security, but the two of them (and their two friends who showed up later) are more like professional celebrity chasers. They deserve their own post, so be on the lookout for that one soon.
A little bit later, a staff member walked up and told us to come with him because we didn’t want to miss what was happening around the corner. Pretty obvious he didn’t understand how much I did not want to miss Jason exiting the building. I went along with him, and jumped in the handful of people who were being filmed for the show waving like maniacs. Did my part, now back to the side door.
Eventually those who were watching the show live on their phones alerted us all that Jason’s interview had just ended. And shortly thereafter, the security perked up a bit and there was a buzz in the air. A driver opened up the back of one of the black suburbans that a sniffing security dog had previously checked, then got in and started the engine. Y’all, he was coming, this was our moment. I had my phone up filming the entire time, to ensure I didn’t miss a second of potential Jason viewing.
Then like a mirage in the desert, there he was. Making a beeline for his suburban. The guys who’d been hoping to get autographs called to him, but he just turned and gave us a wave. And just like that, Jason disappeared into the suburban and was on his merry way.
Watch Jason’s Good Morning America interview here.
I floated home on cloud nine, and was back at my apartment in time to start my work day as usual. Now that I knew this side door trick, I was now determined to do the same thing that afternoon at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert taping. Even though I couldn’t get a ticket to the actual taping, I’d just hang out and hope for a similar situation. Maybe I’d even run into my new friends chasing more autographs.
So I trekked over to Ed Sullivan Theater hyped up for another glimpse at Jason. Would I beat him there? Would he be wearing the same outfit from earlier? Would he maybe walk over to the crowd this time? The possibilities were endless. Because I had to make one last-ditch effort, I walked up to the workers at the front of the theater. I asked if there was any hope of a ticket to today’s taping. She told me the best they could do was an exchange for a future date, and then asked if I wanted suggestions for other shows to see in the city. When I told her I was specifically there for Jason, she said that day’s show was cancelled. And then instead of telling me why, she gave me a cryptic, “check Instagram, and it’ll all make sense.” What in the world? So I stepped to the side and pulled up Instagram only to see that Stephen had tested positive for Covid. The silver lining was that Stephen said he felt fine, but my chance of another Jason sighting evaporated in an instant.
Little did I know that while I headed back home, Jason pivoted and headed to Rockefeller Center to tape The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. Yes, the exact same Tonight Show where I was just days earlier. Can you even imagine if we’d crossed paths, and he ended up as a surprise guest at the same Tonight Show taping I attended? They’d have had to peel me off the floor. So we got an unexpected Jason appearance on Friday night’s Tonight Show, and it was glorious. During the interview, they even confirmed he was there because of the last-minute Late Show cancellation.
You can watch Jason’s Tonight Show interview on the NBC site here.
From the taping, Jason met up with Laura Linney and the rest of the Byrde family for the Ozark premiere event at Paris Theater. Complete with a red carpet, media, paparazzi and a screening of the first two episodes of the second season four installment, the event looked unreal. Believe me, I would’ve absolutely crashed it if I’d realized it was happening. I saw photos of Jason signing autographs for fans on the sidelines that genuinely made my heart hurt for missing it. I’m clearly still a professional celebrity chaser in training, y’all. Baby steps.