I See Famous People
LA is more than a celebrity-oriented culture. Celebrity is the culture.
(And this is not leading to a dig on the lack of culture here. Yes, I know there's the Getty. Blah blah blah. Tell me one more time, LA, how you have the Getty so I can do the happy culture dance for you.)
Come to think of it, celebrity here is more than culture, it's currency. You can't just golf, you have to golf at Jay Leno's Club. You shop at Gwen Stefani's Trader Joes, work out at Peter Gallagher's gym, make reservations at DeNiro's new restaurant and probably have your aura cleansed by Suzanne Somer's freaking aura cleanser. Your kids go to Annie Lennox's kids' school, play soccer around the corner from Debi Mazar's house, and if you call early enough in the week, you can probably get Cameron Crowe's nanny to sit on Saturday night.
When I first let on that I was planning on moving here, I got an OB-GYN reco from a friend that was supported not by the doctor's hospital affiliation or thriving practice, but the fact that her patients include Juliana Margulise and Barbra Streisand.
If she's good enough for Babs' vagina, certainly my own D-list hoo-hah will be satisfied at my next pap smear.
To be fair, it's not like New Yorkers are entirely above the guess who I know/saw/split a cab with in a snowstorm game. There isn't a downtown mom who doesn't have her Uma at the Bleecker Street playground story, or her I peed next to Liv Tyler in the bathroom at Bliss story (that would be me). We're certainly not shy about relating our celebrity sightings, or participating in the occasional shameless cocktail party name dropping one-upmanship; I'm plenty guilty myself. However I do think that we have enough confidence in our choice of supermarkets, thankyouverymuch, without having to add that Paul Giamatti buys his arugula there too.
One of my favorite LA-celeb-meets-NY-nonchalance stories took place at Balthazar, an A-lister dining mecca in Soho (and Nate's former employer, fabulous table-waiting god that he was) where I was once cool enough to actually be allowed to eat. Or at least push a goat cheese salad around on my plate while fondling a glass of Riesling. One night I was there with a friend when I spotted an acquaintance across the room. I ran over to the other side of the restaurant to say hi. When I got back to our table, my friend was practically choking on her steak frites with laughter.
"What's going on?" I asked her. "What happened?"
"Well right there," she said, pointing in the direction I had just come from, "is Sylvester Stallone."
Sure enough, there he was at a six-top. Little guy. Lots of hair product.
"He saw you walking towards him, all excited, and gave his entire entourage the biiiiig eye roll. As if to say, oh no, here comes a fan. He straightened up, turned to face you, assumed the fan-greeting position...and then you walked right on past him without so much as a nod."
That's me in New York for ya.
Me in LA? Different story entirely.
For some reason I become far more of a overt gawker/brazen fan/annoying sycophant when I'm on the West Coast. I don't know if the constant sunshine somehow melts my cynicism, or whether I'm just fitting in.
It's not as if I would run up to Jerry Seinfeld while he's trying to eat his lobster bisque and and attempt to pitch a comic remake of Sophie's Choice, or yell, "HEY, YOU'RE JERRY SEINFELD! SAY MULVA FOR ME!" But still, when I'm in LA, I want to see some damn famous people.
Last week I went to Lunafest's very cool short film festival accompanied by world-renown hipster parent, Rebecca Woolf (who, by the way, might be too cool for preschool, but evidently not to hang out with the likes of me). In New York my vibe would have definitely been "don't look now, but there's Amy Brenneman behind you..." while examining my shoes. But here? I found myself digging frantically into my bag for my camera and snapping photos of her while she posed for the paparazzi. Rebecca was kind enough to ignore my indiscretion, even after I made fun of her for getting seconds on the tofu on a stick that passes for hors d'oevres 'round these parts.
(Where's the pigs in blankets? Where's the cheese puffs? Come on LA, get with it!)
I even mentally calculated the celeb-to-mere-mortal ratio to determine exactly how place to be the Paramount screening room was at that particular moment. The math turned out to be relatively easy considering "co-hosts" Brooke Shields and Laura Dern were no-shows. The answer was about 300:1. Possibly 300:2--there was one guy there who definitely looked like the kind of guy who could be someone.
So of course I was lured into a primo PR opportunity this week by CBS and Warner Brothers, with the promise of one-on-one celebrity encounters dangled in front of me like loaner Harry Winston diamonds before the Oscars. Shiny! Pretty!
And what diamonds they were - Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Wanda Sykes, Clark Gregg, and indeed the whole cast of The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Which I of coursed called the Old Adventures of New Christine pretty much every time I said it.
It was pretty cool that big old CBS decided to reach out to little old bloggers to spread the word about a prime time sitcom. I was honored to be invited among women I was actually excited to meet - the hilarious Yvonne who had me laughing through the whole event, and not just because she confessed to the cast that she passes gas when she's nervous; Amy and Dawn from Mommytrack'd who are great friends of Cool Mom Picks and we, great admirers of theirs; the Manic Mommies podcasters who really aren't all that manic, in a good way; the wonderful bloggers behind Everyday Goddess, Self-Made Mom, The Soccer Mom Vote, House of Prince (one more pregnant chick in the bunch!), the Mommyblog; and finally Tim from LA Daddy who introduced himself to the group as Susan, of Mommy Has a Secret. I don't know if anyone else got it, but from that alone, he should have been on that set writing, not visiting.
We all had one thing in common: We were basically the only ones in the room who knew what a blog was.
Oh, the very special joys of interviewing a panel of actors you adore who have no idea who you are or what you're doing there. Me, celebrity. You, some kind of internet person with bad hair.
The truth is, I knew some of the performers about as well as they knew me, which did even the playing field a tad. Before CBS contacted me, I had seen a single episode of the show. After they sent me a few DVDs, I'd seen a couple more.
You know what? It's funny. And I'm not just saying that because I got the opportunity to pee on Stage 5 of the Warner Brothers lot in the very toilet where Julia Louis-Dreyfus might also pee between takes.
"Celebrities: They expel bodily fluids just like us!"
I love that the show was created by Kari Linzer, an phenomenally smart and accomplished working mother, even more impressive considering the Tailhook-like gauntlet she must have walked to get there. And I like that the main character of Old Christine is a career mom herself, and an imperfect one at that. (Know any of those?) In fact, when one of the bloggers mentioned the increase of working mothers portrayed on TV, Kari challenged us to name one.
"Medium," Wanda Sykes finally offered. "But she's crazy."
Which leads me to the embarrassing moment of celebrity adoration you've all been waiting for.
After telling Wanda in front of everyone--oh, and on camera, to boot--that I thought she was one of the funniest women in [sic] the face of the planet (I'm sure Julia loved that) I chatted with her for a brief moment after the panel and told her that her boobs looked fabulous.
They did. There were all hoisted up and bolstered together and just bouncy and full and totally cleavalicious. Fabulous.
Then I told her I wanted to write for her one day. Actually, worse, I think the words I used were, "I will write for you one day."
No sooner did the words escape my lips then I planned a direct route back to the bathroom, where I would put my head in the toilet bowl and keep it planted there until everyone cleared the stage for the evening 6 or 7 hours later so I could sneak out the back unnoticed by all but the security guard who would take pity on the sobbing pregnant woman and give me a golf cart ride back to my car and a bag of peanut m&ms.
Fortunately, Wanda was gracious. I think her actual answer was, "well okay."
Then she added, "What's your blog called again?"
And she smiled.
So that's not all bad.
Plus, she said blog. Maybe for the first time ever.
I had a much more normal conversation with Tricia O'Kelley and Alex Kapp Horner, who play the scene-stealing Mean Mommies on the show. They just reminds me of friends of mine, actresses who are totally cool normal people who finally get a big break then keep pinching themselves that they get to go to work every day and get paid to do what they love. Also? Hilarious. If Alex blogged she'd put us all to shame. I've decided right then we should be best friends when I move out here. I will braid her hair and give her pedicures and she will ply me with Groundlings gossip.
The funny thing is, after all the anxiety, all the nervous anticipation, the fumbling for interview questions, the sweaty-palmed handshakes, the trembling in the presence of comedic legends and bona fide network stars, the highlight of the whole day was pretty clear.
It was spending time with the writers I love.
I suppose that doesn't bode well for my future as a celebrity stalker.