Monday, November 19, 2007

Fans find reality has its limits

Getting her book signed by pop star Nick Lachey was the highlight of the day for Lexi Radlove, 10, of Anderson Township. She also got a photo with him.

Nick Lachey brought his reality television show to Fountain Square on Saturday, but "reality" was in short supply.

The TV crew herded spectators into a receiving line, asked onlookers to sign consent forms and told some customers at Graeter's to leave the ice cream shop before Lachey arrived to tape a segment of his show.

"They're staging reality," said Jeri Hamrick of Symmes Township.


Hamrick, 29, brought her 5-year-old son, Conner, to see Lachey because she'd tried out last week to be on his show, "Clash of the Choirs." The show pits choirs from several cities, each led by a pop star, against one another in weekly contests.

Lachey, who is leading Cincinnati's choir, was on Fountain Square to promote the show and record some of his interactions with hometown fans.

His fans were thrilled to see him, but not so thrilled with the two-hour wait and the sometimes aggressive staging by his crew.

When Hamrick tried to get into Graeter's to see Lachey, a crew member turned her and Conner away.

"I'm sorry. We can't allow minors," she was told.

Two girls, also too young to get inside, stood by the shop's windows holding hand-written "I love Nick" signs.

Greg Perry, who wore a scarlet Ohio State football jersey, was inside celebrating the Buckeyes' win over Michigan with a sundae when crew members told him he'd have to leave if he didn't take it off. The crew was worried about licensing issues if the cameras caught the jersey on film.

Perry, who was visiting Cincinnati from Toledo, refused and had to finish his Buckeye Blitz sundae outside.

"We thought maybe the president was here," Perry joked as he watched Lachey eat ice cream inside. "But it's someone more important."

After a half hour or so at Graeter's, Lachey's crew touched up his makeup and organized the receiving line outside for the last shot of the day.

Lachey then spent 10 minutes or so shaking hands, signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans, some of whom had waited more than two hours to see him.

"Hi, how you doing?" he asked cheerfully.

Most seemed to be just fine. Once they snapped their pictures and got Lachey to sign his name, everyone seemed ready to forgive any inconvenience.

Lexi Radlove, 10, started to cry when a crew member announced there would be no more photos with Lachey. But when Lachey got to her in line, he signed her autograph book and let her mom take a photo with her camera phone.

"Was it worth the wait?" her mom asked. Lexi nodded enthusiastically.

Michelle Lightfoot, who was posing for wedding photos on the square, didn't mind, either.

In the most unscripted moment of the day, Lightfoot ditched her husband-to-be to jump in line for a photo with Lachey.

"C'mon," she said, "who doesn't want to take a picture with Nick Lachey in a wedding dress?"