Retired teacher walks the red carpet, rubs elbows with the stars at American Music Awards ceremony in Hollywood
When the cameras turned her way, Betty Roeder danced.
That was probably a natural reaction for Roeder, a retired longtime Schaller teacher, who attended the American Music Awards recently in Los Angeles, Calif. Roeder was the guest of her son, Paul, who handles publicity for the top brass in the Disney corporation, owners of ABC which sponsors the event.
Also accompanying the Roeders were Betty's daughter, Shannon Flynn, a stunning beauty in her own right who had many in the throng thinking she must be an award-winning new actress. Shannon, a computer programmer living in Tustin with her husband Ross and working in Irvine, is a relative neighbor to her brother who lives in Los Angeles and works in Burbank.
"It was quite an experience," said Betty. To say that she had an inside connection on getting a ticket to the AMA would be putting it mildly. Her son is at the heart of the vast Disney empire. If any outsiders want to speak with anyone of any importance, they have to go through him.
Having seen the AMA many times on television, Betty asked her son whether she could walk on the famous red carpet. Her wish was granted. "We walked in on the red carpet," she said. They sat center stage, just feet from the nominated stars.
It certainly wouldn't be the American Music Awards without music, and as the cameras panned the audience during performances, Betty went out on the dance floor and danced, danced, danced... all by herself. "I was the only one doing that," Betty said. "It was pretty fun."
One of the highlights for Betty was the return of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" singer Cyndy Lauper.
"She got a standing ovation from everyone," Betty said. Other performers were Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Lindsay Lohan, Bow Wow, Rascal Flats, and Mariah Carey. "She was amazing," Betty said of Carey. "She was so personable."
The Rolling Stones performed via closed circuit from a venue in Utah.
Rubbing elbows with the stars was a memorable experience.
"Paris Hilton came in late and stood next to us for about 15 minutes, waiting to get a seat. She didn't complain at all though - she knew it was her own fault she wasn't on time."
Spoken like a true schoolteacher.
Throughout the entire taping, Betty could see both what the audience would finally view as well as the behind-the-scenes production. At key moments, there would be a countdown for the applause.
After the awards ceremony was through taping, they went to a party at the Shrine Auditorium. There were champagne glasses abound... filled with mashed potatoes. There was also a massive potato topping bar to go with it.
"That was pretty special," Betty said. "Everything was high security. It was an evening I won't forget."
Her son just took the whole evening in stride, though, as part of his job.
"For me, this was really thrilling," Betty said. "He does this quite a bit."
It was a great treat for Betty to see the stars out of the limelight and with their hair down, so to speak.
"It's one of those things that you see them out of their element and you can't put their name or face together."
At 29, Paul has already made quite a career for himself. He served as a page in the Iowa legislature while attending Schaller-Crestland High School. Later, he graduated with an English degree from De Pauw University in Indiana and did public relations for the Brazilian volleyball team during the Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. He later worked for the prestigious William Morris advertising agency in New York City.
Shannon attended Southwest Texas University in San Marcos, Texas. She moved out to California in February. Her brother had paved the way by starting with ABC four years ago before moving on to Disney.
Paul worked for former Disney CEO Michael Eisner before Bob Iger took his place in September.
Betty observes that Paul has always been good at making connections. While he worked for the Morris agency in New York, he was the only one in his office with a driver's license so he got the job of picking up powerful executives. "After a while, you find out they're just like everybody else," Betty recalls Paul telling her.
Paul was always eager to try out different jobs during the summer, just for the sake of getting the experience. Bean walker, camp counselor, telemarketer, sign crew member, it didn't matter. Every new experience was a way for him to grow.
Despite the fact that men twice his age call him sir, Paul's position has not changed him in the least, Betty said.
"He's never put on airs," Betty said of her son who can call California Gov. George Pataki a personal friend. "He's just a hometown kid."
She's understandably proud of both her children.
"I base a lot of what they've been able to do on their attending Iowa schools," said Betty, the 28-year veteran of the Schaller-Crestland Community School District before she retired.
Every once in a while one detects a slight drawl in Betty's voice as she recalls particularly fond moments. That's natural, of course, from the Texas native who has called Schaller home for the past 32 years.
Betty's husband, Harlan, isn't quite ready to retire yet. He keeps busy with his business, Buehler-Roeder implement repair.