L.A. Stories

I was in L.A. this weekend for work, throwing one party and planning the next. This was my first trip to L.A., and my work scouting locations for the next event this fall made it a really good one. I was “required” to check out the Four Seasons, the Regent Beverly Wilshire and the Renaissance (where the Academy Awards are held every year). Since I was in the neighborhood, I managed to take lunch at Spago, which was fabulous.

Not surprisingly, L.A. turns out to be a really heady place. I went to the Comedy Store Sunday night, because I just don’t have the courage to hit bars or dance clubs by myself. [Who am I kidding - I don't have the courage to do those in a group!] Anyway, the Comedy Store was really my speed. Had a few drinks, watched the mediocre open-mic comics for an hour-and-a-half, and was rewarded with the “pop-ins” portion of the evening. Apparently any celebrities who are in the neighborhood and want to do some stand-up can just “pop in” and do a set. So I got to see Chris Rock and Jeff Richards [from Saturday Night Live] do half-hour sets each. For free! Well, there was no cover when I got there for the open-mic portion, so all I paid for were my drinks and tips and parking. So not exactly free.

I left after Jeff Richards’ set, since the next guy to come to the stage “was in a Taco Bell commercial recently!” Also, I had to get up early for my day of scouting. Renaissance, Regent, Four Seasons in that order. Let me tell you that the Four Seasons is apparently the place to see celebrities!

I inquired at the concierge desk for the catering manager with whom I was meeting. As I waited for him to come down, I started pacing the lobby a bit, sort of aimlessly looking for a bathroom but not wanting to ask. I started to look down a hallway and these two vaguely familiar-looking guys passed me in the opposite direction. I wracked my brains for a minute, wondering where I knew them from – college? synagogue? The camera crew and production assistants trailing behind them solved it for me: right, Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle, directors of the latest Project Greenlight movie.

Unnerved and tongue-tied, I nearly bumped into a bellman, at which point I decided to cover my bumbling by asking for the bathroom. Revealing my need to perform bodily functions was actually less embarrassing than tripping over myself after having seen a few celebrities. (NB: Dan defines “celebrity” as anyone who’s got a web page devoted to them that they haven’t made themselves. Therefore, all of these people qualify.)

Stumbled off to the bathroom, inquired at the concierge desk where I could get a glass of water, and she directed me to the bar. Walking through the bar’s lounge, I coolly cast my glance around to see Robert Duvall, chatting with a friend. Well, at least I thought it was him. Collected my water and headed back to the lobby, stealing another glance to confirm, yep, Robert Duvall.

I sat in the lobby, head spinning, hoping to compose myself before meeting with the catering manager. Sipping water, willing heart to slow down a bit, and sure enough, Shia LeBeouf, the lead in the Project Greenlight movie, walks through. Apparently they were doing their L.A. press junket in the hotel. So was Robert Duvall – international press junket for Secondhand Lions.

I did not have the courage or presence of mind or something to approach any of these people and ask for proof that I’d seen them (e.g., autograph). There are two reasons for this:

  1. They were working and having conversations with people about their work. I didn’t want to break into their “meetings.”
  2. It is more important to me to seem cool and unaffected by celebrity than to have proof of having met them. No intelligent, respectful conversation can come out of “can I have your autograph?” Then again, I was incapable of mustering the courage for intelligent, respectful conversation, so I am left with nothing.

Ah, Hollywood. I’m so looking forward to my trip back for our next event in November.

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