It took 16 months, but my friend Cathie Kreigh’s dream of having dinner with Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel became a reality Thursday, Aug. 8.
She was a winner in a contest by Omaze, an online, for-profit company. People who donate to various causes through Omaze — in Cathie’s case it was autism — become eligible to win a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Cathie believes about $2 million was raised for Next for Autism and two other charities.
In March of 2018 Cathie got a request from Omaze for a video call. But she did not assume she had won, even though it was about the fifth time she had donated to a cause through Omaze in the hopes of winning a celebrity experience.
After about 10 minutes of conversation, one of the callers from Omaze said, “Well, you won.”
“And I basically went berserk and said, ‘I did?!!’” Cathie recalled.
Twenty-four hours after her return from Hollywood, Cathie was still walking on air as shared her story of “An Uncomfortable Dinner with Matt and Jimmy.”
Because Cathie’s experience involved two celebrities, scheduling was difficult. Cathie was told she would find out the date just slightly in advance of the trip. During the 16 months of waiting for the “Uncomfortable Dinner” Cathie put her life on “hold,” generally staying close to her home in Kendallville.
“I gave up the year of 2018 basically and the spring of 2019,” she said. But she never lost faith.
The reason for the dinner’s billing as “uncomfortable” is that Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel have a long-running faux feud that started on Kimmel’s talk show. One evening years ago Kimmel said, “Sorry we are out of time. I was going to have Matt Damon on but we ran out of time.” Damon heard about it and said “What?” And it’s been going on ever since, Cathie said.
As the winner, Cathie could choose a companion to share the experience. She chose Jonathon Kane, a 2014 East Noble High School graduate who lives in Hollywood. They met in the lobby of Loews Hotel, where Cathie was staying, and walked over to the Kimmel show on Hollywood Boulevard.
Two other winners, with their guests, joined them. The women had won the experience of going with Damon to the opening of his movie “Downsizing.” They went to the premiere but they didn’t get to meet Damon because he was with his father, who was very ill at the time. So they joined Cathie’s experience.
Damon and Kimmel chose the restaurant — APL, a nearby steakhouse. The dinner lasted three hours!
Cathie said the food, served family style, “was to die for.” Damon and Kimmel ate a lot, but due to her excitement, Cathie, who was seated beside Damon, could only swallow a few bites.
Prior to the dinner, they watched the taping of the show from the green room. Damon wasn’t on the show. The green room — it was painted dark green — is where people wait before going on stage.
People were going in and out and “then without any fanfare the door opened and Matt Damon walks in and I froze,” Cathie said. “He walked over to shake hands and everyone stood up immediately and I just sat there and looked at him. I finally stood up and we shook hands and I said ‘I’m Cathie’ and he said ‘I’m Matt’ and I said ‘I know’!!!
“Everyone knows who this man is but he is so personable, so natural!” Cathie said.
Matt Pohlson, the co-founder and co-CEO of Omaze, was with them.
Kane asked Damon about fame. “Matt said, ‘Well, it really messes with your head,’” Cathie said.
Damon said it was when he won the Oscar for “Good Will Hunting” that he achieved fame. Damon said, “The day you become famous you realize the world goes on but because of the way people treat you, your world has totally changed.”
Cathie said she thanked Damon for getting Robin Williams in “Good Will Hunting” because that got Williams his Oscar.
Because she had to wait 16 months for her experience, Omaze gave Cathie extra days in Hollywood (she was there Monday to Friday) and a day at a spa. Tuesday night she had dinner with Bob Sherer, an East Noble graduate who lives in Hollywood and supports himself as a character actor and caretaker for a large property.
A highlight of the dinner for Cathie was giving Damon a model of the earth (a revolving globe) and Kimmel a model of the moon (also revolving). She purchased the two pieces of art at an observatory in Arizona — and teased Damon that she was giving him “the world” and Kimmel “the moon.”
The world and the moon were to be bribes to get them to stop their “feud,” Cathie explained, but it didn’t quite work that way.
“I was sitting next to Matt,” Cathie recalled. “He had handed me a rib to sample, and I asked, ‘Matt, at any point in your career has anyone promised you the world?’”
He said, “Yes.”
Cathie said, “Well, I can make good on that. I can give you the world. Do you want to see it?”
Cathie said the world “is gorgeous and Matt just loved it.”
She put it on its stand and it started to turn. Cathie thought his daughters would like it, also. Damon told Cathie he wanted to take it with him to France; he was scheduled to leave that night.
Kane said the Omaze experience was “one of the funniest and heartfelt nights of my life ...
“I learned more about fame, politics, Hollywood, the world we live in today and life after death than I ever would have learned from working a decade in this town,” he said.
Kane has a degree in film production from Huntington University. His film “The Concourse” won a student Emmy at the Regional Great Lakes Emmy Awards June 15.
Kane works with Paramount Studios’ Page Program in Hollywood and for an augmented reality tech company, Superba AR.
Cathie said the experience was “amazing!”
And she will keep donating to charities through Omaze in the hope of winning again.
GRACE HOUSHOLDER is a columnist and editorial writer for this newspaper. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.