Six Degrees of Charlie Wilson’s War

I’m sure that many of you are familiar the theory of Six Degrees of Separation – or at least the Hollywood version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. In short, the theory posits that everyone person in the world is no more than six steps from each person on the planet. (In the Hollywood version, every person is connected to Kevin Bacon.)

And I’m your living proof of this theory.

Don’t believe me? Then pay attention, for I’ve got a bit of a story to tell.

Most of you are probably aware of the new movie Charlie Wilson’s War. And many of you may be aware that the movie is based on the book by George Crile, and that the book, in turn is based on the real-life escapades of former Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson and his efforts in the 1980s to defeat the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.

One of the main characters of this reality is Houston socialite Joanne Herring. And it’s with Ms. Herring we begin connecting the dots. You see, my mother was a legal secretary, and one of her bosses did some legal work for Ms. Herring, and though my mother never met Ms. Herring in person, she did speak with her on the phone, and even received some Christmas gifts from her. And Ms. Herring is played by Hollywood royalty, Julia Roberts.

So, I’m related to my mother who met Joanne Herring who was played by Julia Roberts – Ms. Herring even met Ms. Roberts and was on the set at least once. And of course, by being connected to Julia Roberts, I’m connected to Kevin Bacon who starred with Julia Roberts in an awful movie that was made in the early 90s. Of course, I’m also connected to Bacon within the six degrees because Julia Roberts’s co-star is Tom Hanks, and Hanks starred with Kevin Bacon in Apollo Thirteen. And, of course, due to the six degrees, and because Kevin Bacon has been in lots and lots of movies, I’m linked by six steps to numerous Hollywood stars and royalty.

If we want to go beyond the whole Kevin Bacon thing, I’m connected through my mom through JoAnne Herring to Mike Nichols, who directed Charlie Wilson’s War. This links me to Diane Sawyer, and by way of her previous life, I’m now connected to Richard Nixon – Sawyer worked for Nixon at one time. And through Nichols, I’m now linked to Dustin Hoffman, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen, Meryl Streep, Cher, Elaine May, Michelle Pfeiffer, and because of Nichols having been in Second City, I’m linked to Tina Fey.

I’m also linked, thanks to Julia Roberts, to Brangelina, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Steven Soderbergh and Albert Finney. And through Julia Roberts, I’m just six degrees from the Michael Douglas family, Sean Connery, Antonio Banderas, Richard Gere, Garry Marshall, Penny Marshall, Rob Reiner, Kiefer Sutherland, and on, and on, and on.

I think Tom Hanks has been in as many movies as Kevin Bacon, so now I’m linked to Ron Howard, John Candy, Eugene Levy – which also connect me back to Second City and Tina Fey – Darryl Hannah, Robert Zemeckis, Sally Field, Bill Paxton, and on, and on, and on.

Of course, Charlie Wilson’s War was adapted by Aaron Sorkin, and Aaron Sorkin gets me linked to the Sheen family, Rob Lowe, Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson, Annette Bening, Michael J. Fox, and on, and on, and on.

So, when I add things up, I’m pretty damn connected. Which means that I should be on way out of here pretty soon. I’ve just got to get my screenplay finished, and when that’s done, I’m sure one of my links will be happy to look it over. Hell, I know Bacon will star in it. He stars in just about everything, after all.

On a more serious note, through my mom I’m connected to Joanne Herring who was connected to Charlie Wilson who got the mujahedeen weapons and everyone’s favorite terrorist Osama Bin Laden came up through the mujahedeen farm system. So, in some ways, I guess I’m linked to 9/11. I guess that means I better never run for any type of office.

And, if any of you out there want to use me to make your link to Kevin Bacon or anybody else by way of the six degrees, I’ve got an even short way to do this.

On Monday, July 9, 2007, I just happened to be in New York City on a work-related retreat. While out roaming Broadway, I was over by the theater where David Letterman tapes his show. And being in the right place at the right time, I was approached by a Letterman intern who said they were looking for people to sit in the audience for a taping of the Friday, July 13, 2007 show. I wasn’t going to be in town then, but was told that Dave didn’t work on Fridays and that he was taping the Friday show that night, after the normal Monday show. And after answering a trivia question about who Rupert was, I was told to report back in two hours to get in the first of many lines. I was also told that Dave keeps the temp in the studio at about 50 degrees, and that I should make sure to dress warmly, which I took as a clue to go to the Letterman store and get a Late Show sweatshirt.

Long story short, after several lines, and an hour in line, I found myself about six rows back of the stage, on the side with the band. And about ten minutes before the show, David Letterman himself came out to talk the audience. And he decided to talk to yours truly, primarily because of my sweatshirt. After making fun of me for wearing the sweatshirt, he then sent one of his flunkies down to reimburse me for buying the shirt.

I should have known that wasn’t the end.

Then the show starts and Dave comes out and starts on his monologue. A monologue about how hot it is in New York City and about how the heat makes people do stupid things, like pay 45 bucks for a stupid sweatshirt, at which point the cameras cut to a brief shot of me – it’s about 35 seconds into the monologue.

So, I’m directly linked to David Letterman -- and Queen Latifah and Smashing Pumpkins who were that night’s guests – which links me to everyone who’s ever been on or worked on any of his programs. And if you know me, you’re linked to me and I am linked to David Letterman who’s linked to just about everyone.

And you’re welcome. – John Royal

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