Category Archives: walk of fame

The Hills, The Stars, The Stacks of Wax

I’m sitting in front of the window in my fourteenth floor hotel room in Hollywood, overlooking Hollywood Hills, and it’s sunny and very springish outside, which makes me wish that the sudden touch of winter we had in Maryland earlier this week would finally just pack up and leave. While I can’t see the famous HOLLYWOOD sign from my window (thanks to the rest of the hotel looming up to my right) there’s no mistaking where I am.

The Hollywood Bowl is just over that hill, and the famous Magic Castle — official home of the Academy of Magic Arts — is the yellow building visible at center left, with the gray roof and turret. Oh, I also apparently forgot there’s some sort of formal awards ceremony going on this coming Sunday, which explains why the lobby of my hotel is bustling with people wearing name badges proclaiming them as part of an OSCAR SET-UP CREW. Who knew.

I arrived here yesterday with plenty of time to spare before my interview last evening, so I decided to walk over to Roscoe’s on Gower Street, which meant my footsteps took me right along the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame — which, as I think I’ve mentioned before, is both exciting and sort of depressing.  It’s fun to pick out the famous names as you stroll the sidewalk, but it’s a bit shocking to see stars for former heavy hitters like Gary Cooper or Katherine Hepburn gracing the pavement in front of a tattoo parlor — and it’s even more heartbreaking to hear someone say “I don’t even know who these people are!” as they step past the star for James Cagney.  (Okay, maybe you don’t know George Cukor, but James Cagney? )

Oh, and I did manage to find this one — which, I’m happy to say, was not in front of a tattoo parlor or cigarette shop:

Meanwhile, the Sinatra fan in me couldn’t resist snapping a quick shot of this famous building:

Ring-a-ding-ding, baby.

After stuffing myself on chicken and waffles, as promised, I made the much-needed long walk back to my hotel and spent the next few hours preparing for my interview.  While it seems that an interview should be easy — especially when you’re the one asking the questions — I like to go in prepared, so I spend time reading over my questions several times, making notes where I may need to clarify something, or making sure I have any materials handy that I might want to have my subject read or look at during our conversation. I also try to make sure the questions are in something that at least looks like a logical order so I don’t disorient them — or me — by jumping from topic to topic, though that’s always bound to happen once you get talking.

Finally, around 6:00 or so, I got into the rental car and drove down Sunset Boulevard, looking very much out of place in my Ford Focus as I headed for Beverly Hills. And I had a fantastic evening, with great conversation and even better company.

Today, it’s back to Jim Henson Studios over on La Brea.  Stay tuned.

Walking In The Rain

Agent J and I are back from L.A., not too much worse for wear — Jonathan had it worse than I did, as he flew in Wednesday morning to make the afternoon meeting, then took the red eye back that same night.  But I’m Mister Can’t Sleep On the Plane, so I opted to stay one more night and return yesterday instead.  And given the three hour time change, an L.A.-D.C. flight takes up the better part of a day. 

As for our meeting . . . well, it went about as well as we could have hoped, and made for an incredibly memorable day — which I’ll tell you all about as soon as we know whether we have anything to announce.  And maybe even if we don’t. 

I did manage to take in a few of the sights.  As I had hoped, I made it to Grauman’s Theatre — which, you can see, I pretty much had all to myself:

graumans

The place was vacant for two reasons:  first, I woke up Wednesday morning on Maryland time — meaning 6:30 a.m. East Coast time, which was 3:30 a.m. locally.  I tried to go back to bed, but after tossing for a while, finally got up and went walking.  So I arrived at Grauman’s at 7:00 a.m., well before pretty much anyone except me and a tourist from Denmark, who asked me for directions.  Plus, it was starting to rain, which sent even the early risers heading for the cover of nearby coffee shops and bakeries.

Now, understand that when I left D.C., it was 14 degrees out with snow on the ground — so 55 degrees and rainy seemed positively tropical and certainly wasn’t enough to keep me inside.  I spent most of my morning, then, pacing up and down Hollywood and Vine, leaping over the enormous gushing rivers of rainwater at flooded intersections, with my head down, looking at the stars on the Walk of Fame. 

I’m guessing the stars must be movable, because the area in front of Grauman’s contains stars for today’s more iconic celebrities like Robin Williams, Clint Eastwood, and Whoopi Goldberg.  So if you want to find the old Hollywood legends, you’ve got to work your way up and down several miles of city blocks.  (And I’ll give you a bit of practical advice:  it’s really hard to walk on wet marble sidewalks with heeled cowboy boots.  Trust me on this one.)

Stargazing can be a shock to your system.  Rock Hudson’s star, for example, sits in front of a vacant lot.  Valentino’s is on the way into a record store, Reagan’s in front of a nondescript apartment building.  It’s almost as if the old timers have been discarded or relegated to the cheap seats.  It also makes for some odd juxtapostions when you find, for example, Groucho Marx’s star three steps away from Tony Orlando’s, or Al Jolson’s sitting next to Loretta Swit’s.

There are other moments, however, that are oddly satisfying.  Bela Lugosi’s sits on a prime bit of real estate at the corner of a major intersection (and I’m sure he’d be delighted to know I never found Boris Karloff’s).  Rodney Dangerfield’s has a disrespectful divot in it.  Carl Reiner’s is two steps away from his son Rob’s.   I was thrilled to see there are still stars for folks like Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Normand, and I officially called it a morning when I finally ran across this one:

chapstar

That was well worth a walk in the rain.