Reprinted with permission of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Visit www.jewishjournal.com.
There are plenty of guys with crushes on Drew Barrymore, the actress who began as a child ingénue at age 6 in E.T. and who captivates as an adult in sexier roles like her turn as one of Charlie's Angels.
There are also plenty of guys who are trying to make it in Hollywood, living hand-to-mouth, scrambling just to pay rent, taking any job in the industry just to get by until stardom hits.
But there are few guys indeed who can combine their passion for Drew and their showbiz struggle into one neat package. Actually, there's only one guy like that--Brian Herzlinger, an aspiring filmmaker who documented his attempts to get a date with America's sweetheart in My Date with Drew.
The film's trailer explains the mission impossible: "30 days. $1,100. For an ordinary guy to get a date with Drew Barrymore."
Herzlinger is no ordinary Hollywood everyman. He's a Jewish 29-year-old from New Jersey, who did many of the usual Jewish things: attended JCC summer camps, went to Hebrew school, had a bar mitzvah. Eventually, he ended up in Los Angeles and signed up for JDate (he's no longer an active member). While dark and ethnically handsome, he's of average height, not in the best of shape, as he likes to point out, and quite hairy (he ponders a chest wax during the film).
So how does this "ordinary" Jewish guy--a combination of the endearing Steve Guttenberg and the can't-hold-in-a smirk Jerry Seinfeld, with a dollop of Woody Allen self deprecation--go about getting a date with the ultimate Hollywood shiksa goddess?
After winning $1,100 in a game show, he and friends buy a video camera at Circuit City, planning to return it for a refund within 30 days. (Is that ethical, rabbi?) They try to get to the actress using the six degrees of separation. (In the Jewish world, it's supposed to be only four degrees--so too bad he wasn't going for Barbra.)
It's not easy for Herzlinger, who had been in Hollywood for five years after film school, working various entertainment biz jobs, such as a PA on some TV shows, and making his own short films. Using his friends in low places, Herzlinger and his three co-filmmakers ("The Drew Crew") manage to interview, among others, Drew's facialist; her ex-boyfriend, child celebrity Corey Feldman; a psychic who, for $75, predicts the endeavor will be a success but not within the time frame; and Herzlinger's parents in New Jersey.
By the way, his mother thinks Drew is too "slutty" for her son. And hers wasn't the only earful Herzlinger got: "During this process, I've never had so many Jewish grandmothers come up to me and say, 'Tateleh, you should go out and meet my granddaughter . . . '"
The film took four months to shoot and edit--they had to whittle down 85 hours of footage--and another two years to sell after doing the film-fest circuit.
"I was worried that people out here would be so jaded that they wouldn't get the 'lifelong quest''' aspect," Herzlinger said. "But the response across the board has been that people say they've been inspired to follow their own dreams."
Now the four friends who did My Date with Drew are going to work on a reality TV show with a similar premise--following people who try to fulfill lifelong dreams in 30 days.
So does Herzlingerever get his date with the beautiful Barrymore?
He doesn't want to give away the ending (and neither do I).
"I had the highest highs and the lowest lows," he said. "This was the biggest roller coaster of my life." For more information, visit www.mydatewithdrew.com.