Meeting Céline Dion in Stuttgart on June 16th, 2008
Monday, June 16th, 2008 - this date had been marked in my filofax since last year. This day Canadian superstar Céline Dion would perform at the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle in Stuttgart (Germany).
As we got to know by the end of May Céline Dion and her family (her husband & manager René Angélil, her seven-year-old son René-Charles, her mother Thérèse and one of her sisters) had checked in at The Regent Hotel in Berlin and were supposed to stay there until the end of June.
This meant that Céline would no longer arrive one day prior to her show in Stuttgart and stay at the Le Méridien hotel which definitely reduced our chances of meeting her in person. The only chance we now had was to catch her upon her arrival & departure at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) in Stuttgart on June 16th.
Since we have some very reliable contacts working at the GAT we got to know a few days prior to her concert that her Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global Express (tail: N701WH - formerly owned by Jim Jannard/CEO of Oakley, Inc.) would land at 4 p.m. on June 16th and that Céline Dion, her husband and personal staff would directly be picked up from the runway and be transferred to the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle.
I personally didn't expect that we would have a chance to get her at her arrival, but since Céline had proved to sign anything at anytime during her stay in Berlin there was still a slight hope she might pull down the window of her VW Phaeton 6.0 L and sign through the window as she had done before in several other cities. As expected we were all proved wrong and Céline was driven out from the runway by the east exit of the GAT (which by the way caused her driver some troubles with airport authorities later as he wasn't allowed to use the east exist but the main exist only).
We knew that Céline's private jet was scheduled to take off again at 10:50 p.m. to bring her back to The Regent Hotel in Berlin after her show in Stuttgart so we decided to enjoy the beautiful weather and return to the GAT at approx. 10 p.m.
We returned in time and luckily there were no fans at all waiting for Céline. We were a total of 7 collectors and the initial situation was perfect since we were told that oddly enough Céline had to go through the security checks before entering the runway. This meant she would not directly be driven onto the runway but had to come by the VIP lounge at the GAT were we all had placed ourselves and waited for her to finally arrive. By 10:35 p.m. we all got a little impatient as we feared Céline would only walk by and not sign a single piece due to her delay and her jet being scheduled to take off at 10:50 p.m.
But then her VW Phaeton 6.0 L turned into the parking lot of the GAT, and there she was!!! We were first told by one of her bodyguards that she would not sign anything due to her delay but then she came to us, grabbed my silver Sharpie and started to sign our 8x10" photos and DVDs. When she recognized that the silver Sharpie wouldn't be much visible on light photos she even changed the pen and continued to sign in blue Sharpie. Céline looked really lovely and gorgeous for she had just been on stage for an hour and a half. Once she had signed all our photos her bodyguards lead her to the security check. Out of a sudden intuition (I still don't know what drove me to do that) I asked her in French if she agreed to take a picture with me. She stopped, turned around and walked back to me waiting patiently until my friend got in place with her camera to take a picture of us. What a real lady!!!
Although Céline acted like an "ice queen"/"queen of coolness" without any noticeable emotion throughout the whole time she signed and posed for photos she behaved extremely professionally as if she knew exactly that this is part of her job to deal with autograph collectors.