Saturday, June 05, 2004

Best Triple Celebrity Beatdown of My Life

So, after my Alias-Dad sighting earlier this week I said to myself "Man, Brigham, you're always seeing famous old men (Woody Allen, Tom Wolfe, Robin Williams, Tim Robbins, etc.) Why don't you start running into famous young actresses?" So I resolved to start running into young women of fame, and I was unexpectedly succesful . . . read on, if you dare!

Friday night I was standing around with about a dozen other kids in front of Bryant's place on Waverly, trying to decide on what restaurant to go to, trying to decide if we'd wait for the last couple of straglers who hadn't turned up yet when I look west to 6th avenue and my eye is caught by this pretty, yet tiny young woman and in a milisecond that lasts 1000 years I realize that the head on the tiny body is the head of Natalie Portman, so that would mean that the body is Natalie Portman's, so that would mean that Natalie Portman is walking right at me. I did the only thing I could do: gawk. And gawk hard I did as she passed through my group of amigos (all oblivious to her presence because they're too busy on their cellphones and whatnot) and I watch Ms. Portman enter Babbo (Mario Eats Italy's big-time Italian restaurant that Bryant lives right next to) and, well, for the rest of the night I had a pretty hard time saying anything besides "I can't believe I saw Natalie Portman, I can't believe I saw Padme Amidala."

And it would've been pretty sweet if my story stopped there, but the madness continues.

Headed back to Bryant after dinner in midtown, I'm sort of thinking: "I wonder if I'll see Natalie on her way out of Babbo, that'd be pretty cool." And when we get to Waverly there's this pack of Paparazzi hanging out outside of the restaurant. A little talking and it turns out they're there because word is Julia Roberts is having dinner inside, but when people ask them who they're waiting for, they just say "Diane Sawyer." So I stick around outside, because it's a nice night and it's sort of fun talking with the photographers and whatnot and sure enough, a little while later soon-to-be mother of two Julia Roberts (surprisingly small and eggplant-haired) slips out of the restaurant and into a waiting towncar with her husband. Yet, upon her departure, the photographers do not disperse, and a little while later Diane Sawyer (tall and rather handsome) does leave the restaurant and I step in to get a little closer and try to snap some pictures of her (why? I don't know, I was caught up in the moment) when a couple of my friends start yelling my name really excitedly and I turn around to see why and BAM! I bump right into Ms. Portman. She swerves around me with her head down low and slides into the car with Diane Sawyer and is followed closely by some dude. Don't believe me? Check out the photos below! (More are available at shutterfly, login is my email, password is "pictures")

But for real, as far as close encounters of the celebrity-kind go, I don't think I'm going to be topping this story any time soon. And maybe, just maybe, Natalie will always remember me as the idiot outside of Babbo that slammed into as she was leaving.

Oh yeah, and famous chef Mario Batali was chilling out across the street from his restaurant the whole time, if that matters. But he's out there on just about any given afternoon or evening.


Anonymous said...


I had a minor celebrity sighting yesterday - David Cross - that gave me pause. My though process was like this: "Oh, look - David Cross.....well of course David Cross is coming out of that deli. He lives in the neighborhood. Oh well. I wonder how Brigham would write up this celebrity sighting on his 'website'? Does he have a system or scale with which one can measure the magnitude of a celebrity sighting?"

I mean Molly Ringwald, David Cross and Joan Jet are all easy targets in the East Village and are, in my opinion, a little less exciting because they're, you know, around. They live here. But Parker Posey, John Leguizamo and James Iha are East Villagers, too, and I would rate the experience of seeing them more highly. Maybe because I feel they're scarcer. What to do? And was Natalie with that dude from Y Tu Mama Tambien again?


Brig said...

Y'know, Pete, my Natalie encounter has really made me think a lot about celebrities and where they stand in my life. The thing that interests me most about my own reaction to my little experience last night is that Julia Roberts (arguably the most popular and successful actress of our era) is the celebrity that least excited me, although she was the most famous of the bunch. In fact, Natalie was probably the very least famous of the three, yet she's the one that got me going. And I think that's the key to celebrity watching: the ones that matter the most are the ones that we're all the most interested in.

A couple weeks ago I was at Clientelle (new shoe store that used to be the Xlarge in, hmm, Nolita, maybe?) and Robin Williams was shopping there with his son and I mostly got a kick out of his being there, trying to act like a cool dad, but I really didn't care about him so much cuz I'm no Robin Williams fan. However, I'm sure had some other person been there instead of me that really liked Ms. Doubtfire and Patch Adams, they'd have lost their mind. Personal preferences is what it's all about. I think that had I seen David Cross myself, I would've first been like "whoah, David Cross" and then gotten on with my life much like you did, in fact, David Cross seems like the sort of person of whom I could ask the time without worrying much about the "fame bubble." However, I once found myself on a street corner with Woody Allen and his family and I didn't dare consider saying a word to him out of a strong (and probably correct) hunch that he's among the world's least receptive celebrities.

Celebrity watching isn't an art, but there certainly are some rules and qualifications to it. Like, if you live nextdoor to Celebrity X, you really have no business bragging to your friends that you saw him, but should your other friend bump into him on vacation in the Bahamas, then that's a story. Celebrities are rare birds, and it's of far more note that you find a peacock in a desert than at a zoo. Keeping this in mind, there's some sitings that just don't count, like if you pay to see a celebrity, no one can boast "Dude, I saw Courtney Love at the, uhm, Courtney Love concert" but "Dude, I saw Courtney Love getting naked at Wendy's" is okay. Likewise, my single most celebrityrific night was when I went to the MTV VMA red carpet, I saw absolutely everyone, but that doesn't count, it's like going to the zoo. I'm almost inclined not to count anyone I ever saw on the Sunset Strip, as that's like going on a safari . . . you know you're going to see some giraffes in Africa, and you know you're going to see Tara Reid in West Hollywood.

P.S. There was a guy that got in the car after Natalie, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't that handsome Mexican.

Bilaeva said...

I consider myself a bit of a seasoned celebrity spotter myself. I have quite a good bag here in New York, and Christmas in London last December proved rather extraordinarily fruitful. Although, personally I prefer the celebrity experience so much more to a mere celebrity sighting. I try to get the most out of them I can, a chat and some directions and a firm squeeze of the arm from Elijah Wood, a hug from Thom of Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, that sort of thing.

That said, last Thursday was an exciting day for celebrity spotting, though intercontinental celebrity spotting at least. While waiting humbly for my bus from Toronto airport downtown to my hotel, I found myself stood next to the entire England national rugby squad. This wasn't just 25 of the tallest, hunkiest, yummiest examples of my fellow countrymen, they also happen to be still fresh from a World Cup victory last November, for which they were lauded, lionised and lovingly paraded through the streets of London town last Christmas. Yes, 25 genuine world champion sporting heroes!!! Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

Regrettably, there are no photos. It was just me you see, no other snap happy paparazzi to go tussle with. had there been, I have no doubt it would have elbows up and out, punching and pushing my way to the front. you see, we Brits can be quite scrappy when we want to be... No I just stood there sizing them up, and down, admiring them as they loaded their kit bags onto the charter coach and drove off into the sunshine, with strains of Rule Britannia, echoing in my head...