It seemed like a typical mall appearance by a tween idol — in this case Drake Bell, known mostly to the thousand or so people packed inside the Mall at Steamtown for his Nickelodeon show “Drake & Josh.” After four successful seasons, both actors walked away to pursue other gigs, with Drake set to hit the silver screen in March with “College” and a month later in the spoof flick “Superhero!”
However Drake’s subtle smiles, occasional cheek-kisses and melodic, catchy sounds weren’t the only eye-catchers inside Center Court Saturday.
Before any of the aforementioned, FeFe Dobson caught eyes — or at least mine.
Yes, that FeFe Dobson. “Take Me Away.” “Everything.”
As I stood onstage hosting the event, I noticed her to my left and immediately thought, “Wow, she really looks like FeFe Dobson.”
How awkward would that announcement have been over the PA?
“You look familiar,” I inquisitively stated to her about 20 minutes later, after Drake had finished performing two songs, including the MySpace über-spun “Makes Me Happy,” which is closing in on 1 million plays, and “I Know,” which has almost twice as many listens.
She responded, “Yeah, I think we’ve met.” Which we had, back in at a Buffalo, NY, radio concert in 2003.
“Wait a minute …”
“Yeah, yeah it’s me.”
Dobson flew in from Toronto to see Drake. The Canadian-born singer is currently working on new material in T-Dot, which she assured me I would be listening to early next year.
“By the way, can you give this to him?”
Yes, I even passed a note to Drake from FeFe. Lined paper, folded in fours, written with blue ballpoint pen. Feeling like I had re-entered high school, I obliged and brought the message to Drake. FeFe took off for her flight immediately after I walked away. Drake opened the note, looked it over with an exasperated expression across his face — folded the note and placed it under a stack of promo photos.
Drake’s day began at the crack of dawn on the West Coast, where he’s finishing up production for “Superhero!” in Hollywood. After landing in Scranton around 8 a.m., he headed to his hotel, where about 100 adoring fans were treated to a special breakfast with Bell. Conveniently enough, the renaissance man brought his guitar, and at the request of a few kids, performed a song right in the banquet room. Parents eagerly snapped photos and assisted their children in snagging an autograph or three from their child’s Nickelodeon hero. And the breakfast food itself didn’t disappoint either.
From the hotel, Drake, along with his entourage of none and mall officials, drove down the street and inside the mall. Fast forward through two-hours of meeting and greeting, another four songs, and a special half-hour question-and-answer session, and almost every screaming 12-year old and their exhausted parent headed back on the Scranton Expressway and I-81 satisfied, to say the least.
During our impromptu Q&A, which came about only because Bell greeted hundreds in a seemingly record time, I asked Drake who was the most famous person in his cell phone — an iPhone no less. After he responded with Jesse McCartney (to the cringing of most), I asked if there are any other celebrities he chums up with.
“Yeah, Zac Efron sometimes.”
“Does he bring Vanessa (Hudgens) around?”
“Nooooo, that’s just a front.”
A moment of awkwardness later, and Bell quickly retracted, backtracked, sidestepped, and changed topics.
Drake Bell — actor with two movies coming out early next year, musician with a new album slated for April, and as we found out at the end of his appearance Saturday, an accomplished dancer.