I woke up this morning to the news that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Big up to him. Several of my good friends have heard this story but, in honor of this award, I thought I would share it with all of you. It's about the time that Mr. Dylan told me to "fuck off".....he really did.
While playing the role of a powerful network executive I had the opportunity to meet several celebrities and powerful people. After a while you get sort of numb to it. Some of them impress you (Jack Welsh, Rupert Murdoch, George Clooney) and some of them are fucking idiots and you just wonder.
At FOX I was often asked by casting to sit in on meetings with professional wrestlers. I had a chance to meet Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and Chyna and Jeff Jarrett. I also got to meet Vince McMahon along with his kids Shane and Stephanie when they were shopping Smackdown to the broadcast networks.
I met John McCain of the set of 24 and the entire Masked Family had their picture taken with the Clintons when Bill was President. We actually used it as our Holiday card one year. The card said "The B------s and the Clintons wish you Happy Holidays" We received calls from several friends asking us how we photoshopped the picture. Several thought I was joking when I said it was real.
Funny story about that. Before we headed to DC for "Christmas in Washington" my daughter broke her wrist so she was wearing a cast at the taping. My wife tried to make her feel better by promising that we would ask the President to sign his cast. My good friend in NBC Sales got us on the list to have our picture taken with the Clintons. After the picture was shot, as we were walking away, I heard my wife say "Mr. President would you sign my daughter's cast?" Bill said "Do You have a Sharpie?" of course she did and we have my daughter's autographed cast to this day.
But I digress.....
....So it's late 1988 or early 1989. I'm in Research at NBC and still living in New York. I was coming back from a business trip to LA. This was a time when you could still smoke on a plane and it was also a time when executives like me could travel First Class. It so happened that on the day I was returning to NYC The Traveling Wilburys was nominated for a Grammy. At some point early in the flight a man in a hoodie gets up to use the restroom. On the way back to his seat I noticed that it was Bob Dylan. He was sitting across the aisle and a few rows back from me.
My relatively new boss at NBC was a huge Bob Dylan fan and legend had it that, when Dylan was on SNL, my boss went down to the dress rehearsal with Dylan's picture in a frame and a knife to cut it out of the frame. He was jumped by security and never got the autograph that he was seeking. I thought to myself "Wouldn't it be cool if I could get my boss Dylan's autograph". As I said at the top you get numb to meeting celebrities BUT THIS WAS BOB FUCKING DYLAN!!!!!! This was different. This was like approaching a God.
I took out a pad and a pen and spent the whole flight working up the nerve to ask him for his signature. In my mind I went through every possible line I could use.I was terrified. Finally, about twenty minutes before landing, I got up crossed the aisle and stood at his seat. Dylan was smoking a cigarette and was talking intensely with his travelling companion. So there I am holding a pen and a pad. His companion looks up at me and shakes her head like---don't do this. Dylan sees her reaction and turns around to look at me. Here's what came out of my mouth: "You can tell me to fuck off". Dylan looked at me and said as only he can "Fuck off". I walked back to my seat with no autograph and with my heart beating quite rapidly.
When we landed I immediately called my boss. "You won't believe who told me to fuck off on the flight back to New York....BOB DYLAN!!!!". I told him the story and we both agreed that being told to fuck off by BobDylan trumped getting his autograph.
So congrats on the Nobel Prize Bob and thank you for giving me one of the peak experiences of my life.