I talked to Paul Shaffer today!

Really! The story:

I publish a newsletter that covers the IMAX film industry. At a conference a couple of weeks ago, they screened one of the very first IMAX movies, North of Superior, released in 1971. The film includes a brief shot of a wedding by the shore of Lake Superior, and you can hear an organist playing the wedding march. It’s a wide angle shot from a high crane, and if you look quickly, you can see someone with dark hair playing what looks like a Hammond organ.

The guy from Imax who introduced the film said that that scene was filmed in Thunder Bay, and that the rumor around the company had long been that the organist was Thunder Bay’s famous son, Paul Shaffer.

Being the fearless, intrepid journalist that I am, I decided I had to get to the bottom of this pressing story, and wrote Mr. Shaffer a letter, asking if it was him, and if he remembered any of the details.

And today when I came back from lunch, there was a brief message on my phone from the man himself. He said it was him, he remembered it, and that he’d be happy to provide some more information.

But he didn’t leave his phone number. Fortunately, Google is my friend, and a little while later I called back and left a message. At about 6 pm, he called back. (I asked about this right away, since they usually tape The Late Show from 5:30 and 6:30. He explained that today they were taping two shows, and he was between tapings. )

We had a nice chat for 15-20 minutes (interrupted a couple of times by other calls he had to take). He was still in college at the time. He knew the couple getting married because Paul’s mother and the bride’s mother were good friends. By coincidence he met the IMAX crew on a flight back to Toronto after the shoot. He saw the film in Toronto sometime later. I’m saving the rest of this dramatic story for my publication.

Anyway, I’ve been a longtime fan of Paul (and Dave, too, of course), it was fun to speak with him, and I thought there might be a few people here who would be appropriately impressed. (Next stop: my local bar, to see if I can work this into an effective pickup line.)

I just wanted to let you know that I, for one, am suitably impressed. Congratulations!

That’s pretty cool. I think Paul is great on the Late Show, not just the music but he’s really funny and sometimes can make me howl with laughter.

Very cool indeed.

Very cool! Thanks for sharing that.

Check out “Spinal Tap” for another on-screen appearance by Paul, playing a groveling PR flack for the band. He also does the voice of Mercury in the Disney animated movie “Hercules.”