How to embarrass yourself in front of a star
Here’s the question I get asked most often when I tell people I work at Entertainment Weekly: ”Really? Say, how does that Mary Hart stay so perky and delightful?” But after carefully explaining the difference between Entertainment Weekly and Entertainment Tonight, I am usually posed with this all-too-predictable follow-up: ”Yeah, whatever. Anyway, what celebrities do you know?” I make it a point to pause for a moment before answering, letting them enjoy their brief moment of bliss believing they are conversing with someone who actually converses with famous people on a regular basis. Then I hit them with the depressing truth: I know no one.
Well, not quite no one (see ”The Five” below), but it’s not like I could fill a room — or even a closet — with them. A good deal of this is because I spend 99 percent of my time on the job either chained to a desk or perfecting the dent in my couch as I slog through all manner of ridiculous reality television (National Bingo Night? Sure, why not!). But even on those rare occasions when I do find myself within striking distance of a famous person, I keep my comments to myself. It’s not that I am shy. Nor do I consider myself above them. On the contrary, I don’t talk to celebrities for one very good reason — they don’t want to talk to me.
I know this for a few reasons. First off, I am not beautiful. And secondly, I have nothing to impart from my life that could possibly be of any interest to them whatsoever (”Scarlett, this is crazy. Guess what happened to me as I was trying to wipe cat piss off my bathroom floor this morning. Instead of the all-purpose spray, I grabbed the bottle of shower curtain cleaner by mistake. Can you believe that? Shower-curtain cleaner!”). Yet, random people like you and me do this all the time. I can’t help but wonder what folks are thinking when they approach an actor and interrupt his dinner to chat him up about some action movie from 17 years ago where he waged war on a Jamaican drug kingpin named Screwface. Where does this compulsion come from? Sure, you might be able to say, ”Hey, I met Steven Seagal,” but is it really worth it when Steven Seagal is most likely calling in a restraining order? Or, even worse, kicking your ass?
Of course, I don’t always follow my own advice. Once, after a few too many (okay, seven) beers, I decided to bond with a famous musician (who shall remain nameless to protect me from further ridicule) who I knew to be born and bred in my hometown of Washington, D.C. I tried to impress him by talking about hardcore, emo, go-go, and all the hip musical movements that started in D.C., and even attempted to administer some sort of secret nation’s-capital handshake. Just one problem: He wasn’t actually from D.C. (He tried to tell me this several times throughout the conversation but I was too busy babbling on about the Smithsonian.)
Anyway, the point is, seven beers is way too many. Furthermore, even had I been chugging Fantas, we would both have been better off sticking among our own. You see, celebrities and us normal folk are different breeds. We go to parties and bring a bottle of wine. They go to parties and walk out with a $10,000 gift bag. I could go on and on with examples like this, but it’s simply too depressing. Suffice it to say, we just don’t share many experiences that lend themselves to bonding. So next time you’re thinking of approaching a celebrity, ask yourself: ”Does he really want to talk to me?” And if you’re absolutely, positively sure that he does, at least make sure to get his hometown right.
THE FIVE CELEBRITIES I DO ACTUALLY CORRESPOND WITH FROM TIME TO TIME
1. Eric Mabius
Poor guy. He has to talk to me, lest the incriminating pictures I took of him back in college make their way onto the back page of EW.
2. Jeff Probst
I think the host with the most is simply amused — and perhaps a bit frightened — by my Survivor obsessiveness. Also wears a lot of hats.
3. Bruce Campbell
I actually once travelled to Dunkirk to meet the Evil Dead star for a story, and I don’t travel to towns called Dunkirk for just anyone.
4. Leslie Grossman
The Popular actress is another college pal, proving all my friends turned out to be far more successful than I did. How completely depressing.
5. Jerry Buckner of Buckner & Garcia
C’mon, he totally counts as a celebrity. The dude wrote ”Pac-Man Fever” for crying out loud! Respect is due!
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