I’ve Gone Hollywood (Part 2 of 3) March 28, 2012

If you read my previous post, you’ll know that this is a continuation of my recent trip to Hollywood with my friend Becky.  Thus far in the trip our celebrity sightings had been limited to a guy from Lost, but we knew the next few days would satisfy our cravings for some real live Hollywood stuff.

Day Four:  As part of our vacation package, we received a V.I.P. Tour of Universal Studios and Theme Park.  This was a big deal because not only did it mean we’d get preferred seating and front-of-the-line privileges in the park, but we’d be part of a limited number of guests who saw the inner workings of the studio itself.

Here are some of the interesting things I learned that day:

  • The town square set from Back to the Future is fully intact and is still used by other shows and movies.
  • Entire houses are constructed inside sound stages, and many inside walls and half walls are moveable to allow for cameras and crew members.
  • Most Mexican food and restaurant commercials are filmed on one set over and over again.
  • The ravaged street from War of the Worlds is still intact.  Maybe because they don’t know what to do with a wrecked 747.
  • Set design guys can make realistic “brick” walls that are really made out of a rubbery material; they can also make a carpet that looks like a dirt road.
  • Nine-year-old boys nowadays do not know how to dial a rotary phone.  (I learned this during a visit to the prop room.)
  • The costume department prefers to work on ancient Juki brand sewing machines.
  • There’s a reason why the ladies on Desperate Housewives look so spectacular in their jeans:  everything is tailored to fit perfectly.  As if being a size 00 wasn’t enough!
  • Even if a roller coaster takes place in the dark, I will still squeeze my eyes shut.
  • I should not ride roller coasters that go backwards.
  • Universal is able to recoup some of its losses from Water World by using the still-intact set as an audience attraction/show.  What’s next?  Ishtar, The Desert Experience



I’ve Gone Hollywood (Part One) March 20, 2012

Celebrities are my guilty pleasure.  I never met a True Hollywood Story that didn’t suck me in like a good pair of Spanx.  Pair me with my friend Becky and we are a dream team for The World Series of Pop CultureTMZ and Us Weekly are our porn.  In actuality we are educated members of society with respectable jobs.  However, beneath our professional exteriors lie the souls of two chicks who long to be panelists on VH1 Specials that celebrate the 80’s.   

Naturally, when it came time to plan our annual trip together, we gravitated toward Hollywood.  If anyone was meant to hobnob with the stars, it was us.  Luckily we attended a charity auction where one of the items was a “Live Like the Stars” package to L.A.  Those other bidders didn’t have a prayer.  That trip was ours.

So now without further adieu, let me take you on a journey of two celebrity-obsessed Wisconsinites as they hurl themselves onto the Hollywood scene, stopping at nothing to live out the glamorous lives they so obviously were meant to have.

Day One:  After arriving at our hotel in North Hollywood, our Casper-like bodies soak up rays by the pool before getting ready for dinner at Koi.  We pull up to the valet in our rented Mazda 6.  The car behind us was a Ferrari.  (I bet the valet who took our car was kicking himself.)  Although dinner was delicious, we didn’t spot any celebrities.  Don’t get me wrong, though. There was plenty of “acting” going on, namely by the young twenty-somethings pretending to be interested in their 50-year-old dates.  That means you, Mr. Ferrari.

Day Two:  Our first celebrity sighting is at The Grove, a beautiful ritzy outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment area.  Becky spots actor Nestor Carbonell from the television series Lost.  (No obscure celebrity is safe from her eyes.)  Per Becky, he’s the one “who looks like he’s wearing eyeliner, but he’s really not.”  Apparently this is a hot topic.  A search for “Nestor Carbonell Eyeliner” nets 7,490 hits on Google.

After dropping too much money on fancy workout clothes that will really be used for running errands, we head to Melrose Avenue for a performance by The Groundlings.  If you’ve never heard of them, they are the L.A.-based equivalent of Chicago’s Second City.  Their performance enthralls and intrigues me at the same time.  On one hand I was immensely entertained, but on the other hand I kept thinking how there was no way in hell I could ever do what they do.  Then again, I bet they couldn’t help implement a complex ERP system.  (God is that nerdy…and so un-Hollywood). 

Day Three:  Okay so part of our prize package included tickets to the L.A. County Museum of Art, The Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits.  Seeing as though we already technically paid for these things, we figured it would be good to do something educational on the trip.  So blah blah blah, Mexican Surrealist Exhibit, Frida Kahlo with unibrow and mustache, lots of angry women lamenting their place in society, etc.  Good thing I watched that Salma Hayek movie.

As for the tar pits, seeing dormant, fully excavated tar pits was a bit of a letdown, but seeing the giant mastodons inside the Page Museum was mind boggling.  To think that thousands and thousands of animals (and one human) were uncovered in tar pits right in downtown L.A. is downright nutty.

Day Three (Evening):  Okay, enough of this educational stuff.  We make ourselves as chic as can be, then head out to huge celebrity hangout Chateau Marmont for dinner.  Despite online reviews claiming the service is about as warm as an interview with Prince, we find the hosts to be devastatingly beautiful and our waiter to be friendly enough.   We are seated in a lovely outdoor patio area with cozy seating, tents and portable heaters.  Unlike the rest of the patrons who are too busy wearing fabulous clothes and having fabulous conversations, our eyes are discreetly (read: desperately) roaming around the patio, trying to find someone famous.  When that fails, we find people who just resemble celebrities and pretend they are the real deal.  (“Look, it’s Martin Scorsese!”  Why yes.  Yes it is.) 

And in case you were wondering, we managed to leave Chateau Marmont without overdosing on heroin or hooking up with Adam Levine. 

Stay tuned for my next blog entry, which is actually packed with real celebrity encounters and pictures.  In the meantime, I leave you with my Top Ten List of Least Heard Phrases in the Greater Hollywood Area.  Enjoy!

“Look, free parking!”

“Everyone here is so down-to-earth.”

“We’re lucky to have such a low cost of living.”

“I don’t care how big my neighbor’s house is.”

“Canine Social Club is a silly, pretentious idea and a complete waste of money.”

“The truth about how I got this skinny?  I don’t eat.”

“I hope my Bentley isn’t too conspicuous.”

“Why would I bring my dog to a five-star restaurant?”  (Or, “We’d be insane to bring our pet pit bull with us shopping at The Grove.”)

“I’m really dating the elderly guy for his money.  This whole thing is a sham.”

“Look at those hot moms visiting from Wisconsin.”