Star search: A guide to meeting and greeting your favorite celebrities

Why GW? Maybe you’re in love with the idea of gigantic dancing hippos, or you just couldn’t turn down a dorm-room view of everyone’s favorite phallus-shaped monument. Or it could be that you’re here just to join the droves of incoming freshmen who will soon realize that law degrees and political careers are the dreams of their parents, and tuition dollars are better spent learning pottery. Whatever your reason for coming, look out, because when the novelty of D.C.’s glittery politics and overprotected monuments wanes, you’ll find yourself in search of other amusements. My advice: scour the streets and find some famous people. It not like you have anything else to do. D.C. ain’t like Hollywood, but still, you never know who might be stopping in to say hi to the president, promote a new movie or just tell a few quick lies to Congress. Eighty percent of everything is showing up to the right place at the right time. It’s totally possible to meet and mix with famous people while you’re at GW; you just have to know what you’re doing.

Movie screenings are a fan’s best friend

It might not seem like it, but D.C. is a definite movie town. You won’t see us featured in Entertainment Weekly as a big movie premiere city, but we still do all right. Radio stations in the area sponsor special pre-screenings for almost every movie that comes out, offering tickets through on-air giveaways and other contests. It’s not uncommon for a few familiar faces to come by to check out the scene. In the last year, stars like Chris Rock, Woody Allen and Nicholas Cage have each appeared in area movie theaters for screenings of their movies. So go for the big win with the stations, check their Web sites and cash in on these giveaways. If you don’t make it that way, you can almost always get in if you show up early and bum around the theater for extra tickets.

The Smithsonian’s not just for old people

The Smithsonian holds special events all the time, announced and unannounced, honoring members of the film community. Celebrities can always be counted on to show up to pat the backs of other celebrities. GW junior Chris Ingui had the luck this year of walking into a black tie gala featuring legendary director Martin Scorsese in the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art (see “Martin Scorsese hits DC, hangs with the Hatchet,” March 3, 2002). A little smooth talking can go a long way. Pay attention to what’s going on, or just stop by the film institute to say hello. It’s a fun place, and you never know what might be going on.

Get the hookup

Your parents are shelling out some serious cash to keep you at GW. The least you can do is use that opportunity to meet some famous people. Student groups can definitely help you there. GW brings in celebrities every year to perform, read or just talk to students. Comedians Dave Chappelle and Margaret Cho are just two that have graced the stage in the past year. Student publications get first dibs on celebrities around campus. Papers and magazines, like The Hatchet, By George, the GW Journal and GW Blitz all get the chance to do interviews for these events on a pretty regular basis.

An even quicker way to get close is to help organize the events. Lisner Auditorium employees and Program Board volunteers have immediate access to the stars that they book and often get the chance to shoot the proverbial poo with the big-wigs just by virtue of the fact that they are back stage.

<Catch them where they sleep

Celebrities have to sleep somewhere and it’s usually in style. Any number of celebrities can be spotted by the Ritz Carlton only a few blocks from campus. GW junior Alexandra Tagle had the chance last year to meet Howie Dorough, of the Backstreet Boys right after a stadium performance, just by hanging out and waiting by the door (see “Star-struck students in D.C.,” Feb. 15, 2002). In the same manner, Michael Jordan is spotted several times a year in the same place. D.C.’s Northwest is filled with chic hotels, and if someone famous is in town you can bet that’s where they’ll be. All you need are quick eyes and some time to spare.

Walk the streets

When all else fails, there’s always the chance of a random encounter on the street or at a monument. D.C.’s many attractions appeal to the rich and elite as much as anyone else. Celebrities in town for a few days may be rich and beautiful, but they’re still just tourists looking to have a good time.

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