A lot of people hope to catch a glimpse of a movie star when they're in Los Angeles and Hollywood, but it isn't so easy to do. Brad and Angelina don't take the kids to Pizza Hut for a birthday party; instead, they find a place with gates and security guards and hire a caterer. You're not likely to see a hot young starlet picking up the morning paper on a stars' homes tour, either.
Yelp maintains a page just for people to report celebrity sightings, but by the time you find it there, it's over. So what can you do? You don't have to hang around the door of the latest "in" nightclub or try to find where the paparazzi hang out just hoping to see a movie star while you're in Hollywood and Los Angeles. We've got 10 things to that guarantee you'll see a movie star - or two - or more. And most of them are free.
Walk of Fame Star CeremoniesThe honorees have to show up when their pink-and-gray stars are unveiled on Hollywood Boulevard, an event that seems to happen at least once a month - and sometimes they bring their pals along, too. In 2011, you might have seen Sissy Spacek, Shania Twain or Simon Fuller of American Idol. The Walk of Fame guide has all the details.
Hand and Footprint Ceremonies at Grauman's Chinese TheaterAnother event that the honoree has to show up at - otherwise it can't happen at all - is a handprint/footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese. The forecourt is small and much of it is crowded with the media and celebrity attendees, but you can use this guide and tips to find out more - including how to make the best of it.
Academy Awards Bleacher SeatsThe Oscars aren't totally for the Hollywood in crowd. Anyone can get into a lottery for seats in the bleachers at the red carpet, where you're bound to see more stars than you'll be able to count, and photograph them, too. Sign up online - well in advance. Registration is usually open for about a week in mid-September for the awards show the following February.
Be in a Studio AudienceThe stars have to be there when their show is being filmed, and if it has a studio audience, you'll get a chance to not only see them, but also watch them work- and an insight into why those audiences sometimes laugh when things don't seem so funny. Even better? Tickets are always free. Find out how you can be in a Los Angeles studio audience.
Hollywood Christmas ParadeIt may not be the year's most lavish parade - in LA, the honors for that go to the Rose Parade - but it's certainly the most star-studded. Get a good spot and you'll be seeing more stars on the street than in the sky. Check this year's schedule.
Movie PremieresUnless you're in the industry, you're unlikely to get a ticket to watch a movie premiere, but you can hang around outside and watch the stars arrive. Seeing Stars has a list of upcoming premieres, but it's harder to figure out when and where they'll happen far enough in advance to plan your visit just for them. You may be better off to plan your vacation dates, then check a week before that to see what premieres might be happening.
Watch a FilmingOnline Vacations keeps a list of Los Angeles locations where things are being filmed. Although you'll spend a lot of time standing around waiting for something to happen and possibly even longer for the show's star to show up, it's an interesting look into the film-making process.
The Hollywood ShowIf you'd like to actually meet some stars and get their autographs, the Hollywood Show might be just the place for you. You're unlikely to find today's A-listers at this event, but this long-running autograph show draws as many as 75 movie and television stars to a single event, many of them from older television shows. The LA Times calls it: "retro nirvana for TV Land, VH1 and Turner Classic Movies fans and celebrity signature collectors."
Past attendees have included Erin Moran of Happy Days, original Batman Adam West, Ryan and Tatum O'Neal, the Osmond Brothers and Rita Moreno (although not all at the same event).
You can pre-order an autograph on their website and specify how you want it personalized - and you can even send your own items to be signed if you want. At the show, you can have your photograph taken with your favorite star. Some celebs attend for only one day - if you have a special favorite, check their schedule.
Of course, there's a cost of all this. Admission runs $20 for one day and $35 for two, you'll pay $20 to $75 for an autograph and $10 to $30 for a photo. More info at their website.
In Person Inc
When I last checked, their lineup included mostly stars of yesteryear, but it's worth a look to see who's up and when they'll be there. Their studio is in the heart of Hollywood near all the other tourist attractions. You'll pay for a ticket to the appearance and for an extra fee can get your photo taken with the celebrity. More info at their website.
PaleyfestIts former name - The Television Festival - gives you a better idea of what it's about, but it's run by the Paley Center (thus the new name), so we can' t blame them for changing it. This two-week festival is held in March. It features screenings of classic television shows and brings their producers and cast members in for discussions.
You can not only hear them talk, but ask questions. A sampling from 2011: American Idol, GLEE, Raising Hope, True Blood and White Collar, along with 9 others. Ticket prices are reasonable, but they sometimes sell out, so if your heart is set on something, get tickets online in advance. Paley Center members get first shot at the tickets, so a membership may help.