Hunting for Celebrities in New York
>> Out-of-town friends often ask me where they can meet NY celebrities. How can I help my friends have a good time without me turning into a booking agent? Signed: Starless
Dear Starless: Unless you are in the entertainment industry, with more than a bit of insider dish, the best you can do for your friends is provide enough clues so that they can mount a successful celebrity hunt on their own.
Besides, it's not worth losing face to enthuse over Woody Allen sightings if your guests don't know who he is, or if they do, wonder why they should care.
To hunt celebs, you must hang around their habitats. Here are tips that will help you nose out those locations. At the end of this article, there is a list of restaurants known for serving Broadway cast members.
- Web Search: If your friends know specifically who they want to see, they can search the web for performance schedules. If your friends don't want to buy tickets, however, they can simply hang around stage doors . . .
- Media Studios: Contact all media studios, including MTV, to find out when they're hosting free, outside celeb events in addition to their traditional shows. NBC, for example, regularly puts on shows in front of the Rockefeller Center and Fox films special outdoor segments not too far away. MTV celebs often hold forth near their studio on Broadway, marked by throngs of people jammed up nearby.
- Entertainment Guides: Weekly entertainment guides, such as TimeOut New York and New York Magazine, list a wide range of live entertainment, as do local newspapers.
Now then, let's say your friends are from reallllllly out of town and their ideas about celeb hunting are limited to TV, movie and Broadway personalities. Take the time to introduce them to other forms of live entertainment in such venues as concerts, small stages, clubs, comedy, cabaret, jazz, dance, lectures, panels, story telling, play reading and more! Get Up Close and Very Personal for a Minor Fee: The Learning Annex, The Seminar Center and the 92nd Street Y are a few examples of organizations that promote celebs in intimate seminars. For fees generally between $35-$45, you can join a celeb for up to three hours in a relatively small group, shake hands, and get autographs.
Also keep in mind that New York is the home of The Food Network, plus several cooking schools, all of which inspire celebrity chief events. Even wine merchants get into the act with events featuring celeb owners of famous vineyards.
Seminar celebs include personalities from all media and entertainment venues as well as best selling authors and advice gurus.
Professional organizations also sponsor events that host celebs. To find out more about what associations operate in New York, consult the Manhattan Yellow Pages or Yellow Book under the keyword "Associations."
Note that ads in entertainment guides also provide the names of movie, TV industry, art, illustration, photography, music and other organizations. If the topic areas interest you, contact these groups, check their websites and get on their snail mailing lists.
Get Up Close and Personal for Free: Book promotions by Barnes and Noble, Borders and others host a wide variety of free celeb book events. As many of these books are authored by movie and TV personalities, this presents a good opportunity to meet media stars. If you buy their books, you get their autographs, too.
Be a Groupie at Grand Openings - Free, but Frustrating: You and a million others can generally see celebs at opening nights for movies, plays, restaurants, clubs, fashion shows and more.
I know someone who just happened to be at a cool multiplex when several stars strolled in for an opening one of its theaters. This type of luck, however, is rare. Generally, if an opening receives a lot of publicity, onlookers show up by the throngs. For many people, being part of a celeb hunting crowd is a thrill in itself. Bar, Restaurant and Shopping Sightings: Some people want to see celebs in "real life," which means no tickets, only voyeurism. You can find out where celebs dine by reading entertainment, celebrity and style magazines as well as all local newspapers.
Bars and restaurants want us to know when celebs are on their premises because celebs promote business. These establishments regularly send out publicity notices that become the chatty bits we read about. Broadway Sightings: By regularly reading publications like the ones mentioned here, you'll stumble over major articles on sightings. Jessy McKinley, for example, wrote the very entertaining "Seeing Stars: A Guide to Theater Hangouts." (New York Times, Friday, Weekend Section, 12/29/00)
To master the art of celeb finding, subscribe to and keep back issues of the New York Magazine and TimeOut Magazine, plus check The New York Daily News. Also subscribe to entertainment-specific magazines that focus on New York performers. Of course, if you regularly hang around Manhattan, pick up free newspapers whenever possible.
Using this technique, I can tell you where many celebs have been. In a recent SOHO Style, for example, I learned that actress Jennifer Esposito is a Greenwich Village native who likes to eat at Frank's in the East Village and also brunches at Grange Hall. That same magazine has a chatty section called "Concierge," where "residents-in-the-know" make further recommendations. SOHO Style is no longer in print. 5/1/02
Similar information is found in formal social listings, such as those that show group photos of attendees. Take note of where these events are held, then ask the doorman or head waiter of these establishments about other bookings. Please reward their willingness to share with a generous tip.
Also pay attention to where celebs shop. Fashion and style sections of publications identify shop names whenever possible. If celebs aren't hanging around the day you arrive, maybe the clerks can tell you about what it's like to help celebs. It never hurts to offer a tip if you pick up interesting news.
Here are Ms. McKinley's recommendations:
Barrymore's Restaurant, 267 W. 45th Street. 212 391-8400
Brasserie De Boeuf, 258 W. 44th Street. 212 869-4440
Chez Josephine, 414 W. 42nd Street. 212 594-1925
Edison Cafe (Polish Tea Room), Hotel Edison, 228 W. 47th Street. 212 840-5000
Film Center Cafe, 635 9th Avenue at 44th Street. 212 262-2525
44 At 10th Hell's Kitchen Restaurant, 622 10th Avenue. 212 977-1170
Joe Allen, 326 W. 46th Street. 212 581-6464
JR Restaurant, 264 W. 46th Street. 212 719-5694
Kodama, 301 W. 45th Street. 212 582-8065.
McHale's, 750 8th Avenue, at 46th Street. 212 997-8885
Orso, 322 W. 46th Street. 212 489-7212
The Palm, 250 W. 50th Street. 212 333-7256
Sam's, 263 W. 45th Street. 212 719-5416.
Sardi's 234 W. 44th Street. 212 221-8440
St. Andrews, 120 W. 44th Street. 212 840-8413
10th Avenue Lounge, 642 10th Avenue at 45th Street. 212 245-9088
Vintage, 753 9th Avenue, at 51st Street. 212 581-4655
Questions or comments?
Article and photos by Karen Little. First published on 1/21/2001. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.