It was the second night of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, which is why I found myself in a hotel bar in the first place. And if it hadn't been for the New York producer who was staying with us that weekend, Colin Firth and Patricia Clarkson would have slipped by me unnoticed.
Granted, it wasn't a normal weekend in Durham. The annual Full Frame Festival meant that lots of out-of-towners and movie people and hipsters invaded a three block radius of deserted downtown for several days; for once you couldn't just leave your car in the middle of the street and call it a parking spot. People walked around with their giant VIP festival passes around their necks -- the volunteers, the pass holders, the people associated with the films.
By Sunday night, the hubbub had pretty much died down, and it was once again possible to walk down a main street in the evening and not see a single car.
Life returned to normal, and the celebrity sightings returned to the usual, "Hey, that's the woman who teaches the dance class right before the one I take," or, "There's my former neighbor who walks around with a lead pipe."
And then, this past week, a mere two blocks from my house, another celebrity showed up in Durham.
Vans and trucks and trailers had been filling up the empty lot of the vacated rice diet center located just down the street, and once or twice I spotted the bright film lights as I walked by on my way to work. I had assumed that they were filming a movie about rice or diets.
But then, this past normal Tuesday, as Fonzie took me on on our usual post-work walk, we passed by a closed-off section of Duke Street, where a couple of police officers were redirecting traffic to accommodate the film shooting.
I asked one of the cops what was being filmed.
"A film called Main Street," he said.
"Who's in it?" I asked.
Yessiree. Orlando Bloom had been hanging out (or working, as it were) just blocks from my house.
The next day, word had caught on that Orlando was in town; a small but committed gaggle of girls and young women had planted themselves outside of the building where filming was taking place.
A little IMDB search later, and sure enough, Colin Firth and Patricia Clarkson are also in Main Street.
Willie said he would pay me $5 if I got a picture of Orlando Bloom, $10 if he was naked.
As of the posting of this blog, I am no richer than I was two days ago.
And even though I stupidly imagine that the film stars shooting in Durham are bored and eager to get out of this small Southern city, there's one more little feather in Durham's Hollywood cap.