Celebrity sightings in Southeast Michigan are rare, even in our purportedly hip college town. But they do happen – and apparently all during Fall Break.
Hayden Christensen popped into “the liberal mecca of the Midwest” (a nickname from the era of that other Hayden) just as many of you split to enjoy the precious days off.
In town for a film partially set in Ann Arbor, the pretty-boy actor spent some time walking around town Friday, dropping by Bivouac and Ashley’s.
“I walked in just as he was leaving,” reported one Biv employee, “but one of the other girls who works there actually had the privilege of applying concealer to his zit.”
Purchases were scanty (some Chapstick), but regret came in buckets.
“I’m pretty upset I didn’t get to work earlier,” our friend confessed. “I’ll never be late again.”
I spied Hayden walking into Ashley’s and being guided into the basement just as a few friends and I were settling into the first of several hours of happy hour that evening – most of it spent pondering “Life As a House” versus “Shattered Glass,” of course. One of us interrupted Hayden’s convo with a few film students outside:
HS: “So, what kind of cigarettes does Hayden Christensen smoke?”
HC: “du Mauriers.” (He’s Canadian.)
The lucky guy was also treated to a trailer of the upcoming film, “Jumper,” via the iPhone of one of Hayden’s handlers; the film features teleportation, Hayden running on top of the Sphinx and Samuel L. Jackson. Question is, if “Jumper” was filming in Ann Arbor (talk to the 60 Huron High School kids used as extras for a scene in Gallup Park earlier this year), where was everyone else? I want Samuel L. Jackson at Rick’s, damn it.
Saturday night, The Blind Pig welcomed home University alum and electronic music star Matthew Dear and his band Big Hands. Ghostly International guys turned out in full force, including label honcho Sam Valenti and Dear’s DJ-partner Ryan Elliott. Despite the shitty sound system, we still caught most of the onstage jokes. “Play ‘Hands Up For Detroit!’ ” requested one fan. Laughed Dear, “I don’t know if I own the rights to that one anymore.”
Wes Anderson and Jason Schwartzman showed up a couple nights later for a “The Darjeeling Limited” Q&A at Borders, followed by an exclusive screening at The Michigan Theater. “We usually overbook events 10 to one,” a PR rep told me, “but this is only booked two to one.”
I squeezed in 15 minutes with Anderson, Schwartzman and Waris Ahluwalia (the Sikh socialite/jewelry designer who occasionally guests in friends’ films) at the Townsend Hotel in nearby Birmingham earlier that Monday. While waiting for the next roundtable interview on schedule (with me and a few others, including one guy who later gave budding label head Schwartzman his demo tape – seriously), the PR types fretted over dinner and how to keep tabs on the “easily distracted” Schwartzman. “Someone needs to go with Jason!” wailed one, concerned about his request to find an addition to his vintage guitar collection. “I don’t want him to end up somewhere in Detroit.”
About dinner: Vegetarian Schwartzman was lobbying for the Seva restaurant, but Anderson wasn’t interested – and neither were the PRs after my description of the restaurant wasn’t upscale enough for their tastes (I may have used the words “earthy” and/or “granola,” but I really do love the tempeh stir-fry). And the Chop House – that storied Russell Crowe haunt – was too indicative of, uh, meat. I suggested Pacific Rim, The Earl and Eve. The PRs also had menus on hand for Gratzi and Real Seafood. An extra challenge was that they already had seafood the night before, at Mitchell’s in Birmingham. This is like one of those logical thinking puzzles from grade school: Can you guess where the pair ended up dining?
While I frantically transcribed the interview notes before my laptop died, afterward in the Townsend lobby, the Denver Nuggets bus unloaded and the players streamed into the hotel. I only realized that the 76ers traded Allen Iverson to the Nuggets 10 months ago when I saw AI practicing what can only be described as animal noises in the lobby. But more timely, I did find out that Detroit’s new MGM Grand is a hit, at least with one Nuggets player sitting next to me who told a couple of lady friends that he was heading back to the casino that night even after a financially unsuccessful outing the night before.
As this went on, I made small talk with a “Darjeeling” PR rep while she waited to take Ahluwalia to the airport. She agreed that the sudden celebrity influx was surprising. “And I just ran into Seth Rogen!” she exclaimed. I lingered for a bit, brainstorming for this column as my laptop battery drained and contemplating how to find this Seth Rogen. But I think by that time Wes Anderson had caught me sneaking too many glances at him in the hotel’s Rugby Grill and I opted to head out.
– Chou still hasn’t figured out the dinner puzzle. What does that mean for her LSAT? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, you obsessed hipsters.