The night I partied with the stars


Life is still in a holding pattern and so I bring you … the night I partied with the stars (aka when House REALLY went Hollywood). I’ve blogged about it before, but I found the original article in the attic, so here’s the story in it’s full glory …

Thank you Kate, I couldn’t have done it without you. On Sunday, May 26, 1996, a miracle occurred. Kate Ceberano, for reasons known only to herself, threw her VIP pass to the grand opening of Planet Hollywood at my feet. And I accomplished my very own Mission Impossible – sauntering the red carpet and through the doors for the restaurant’s opening night bash.

Earlier, herded like cattle inside the press corral, I’d given up all hope of entering the pearly gates leading to my version of heaven on earth. (Sad, but true. This is a girl whose highest ambition in life is to go to the Golden Globe Awards as David Duchovny’s date.) I’d watched the PR sneer at an ABC journalist who demanded entry: “No media allowed. It’s Planet Hollywood policy.” My feeble hopes were completely crushed. I contented myself with the privilege of having a lowly “red” media pass, granting me front-row positioning for the red carpet parade of celebrities. At least I could feel faintly superior to the 20,000+ crowd jammed behind me, jostling for a glimpse of the superstars.

After two hours of standing in the cold, bored beyond belief, even that meager advantage seemed barely enough. But then, I’d never come face to face with a Hollywood star before. When Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Cindy Crawford finally swept past me, so close I could almost touch them, all was instantly forgiven. And I quickly betrayed my cool exterior – to the consternation of my blase media counterparts – by screaming out “Bruce, Bruce!” and “Argh! Sly” with wild abandon.

All too soon, they were gone again. It was time to face reality. Bruce wasn’t going to spot me in the crowd and insist that I join him inside. Charlie Sheen minders weren’t going to tap me on the shoulder and suggest I join him later (a highly dubious pleasure, I know). My black hipster pants had been worn in vain. All that was left was a battle through the crowd for a cab home.

But I was wrong. Fate was on my side. Kate was on my side. The Hollywood junkie WOULD get her fix.

Sheer terror best describes the feeling of walking down that red carpet – past the burly security guards – and climbing the stairway to heaven. Feeling certain that at any moment someone would realise I was NOT supposed to be there. But no, at the top of the stairs a waitress merely offers me a glass of champagne (with a nice, plump raspberry bobbing in it) and wishes me a pleasant evening. Legs wobbling, head down, I make a dash for the phones [this was pre-mobile phone days]. In times of stress, I find there’s nothing more comforting than a receiver in my hands. I ring my boyfriend [Husband]. Gasp, “I’m at the party. I can’t believe it! I’M AT THE PARTY!” Then I insist he talk me through my first glass of champagne. The ensuing conversation is filled with faintly hysterical exclamations like “Oh my god, Cindy Crawford just walked past!” and “I don’t believe it, there’s Danny Glover!” Eager to join the fray, I polish off the champagne, hang up on my dearly beloved and … head for the toilets. After three hours in the media corral without amenities – while being placated with bottles of complimentary water – nature is calling louder than the lure of Sly.

On to the bar. More champagne. Er, what to do now? Nothing worse than being at a party and not knowing a soul. Especially when your fellow partygoers are hip, groovy, anorexic soapie stars and models. Luckily, at a Planet Hollywood party there’s plenty to pretend to look at. So I trawl about, attempting to appear terribly interested in the displays, such as Jeanne Tripplehorn’s outfit from Waterworld and a Planet of the Apes costume.

Another champagne down the hatch, I drift back to the bar and accost a waiter with a bottle of Piper Heideisick in his hand. My new best friend, Jose. I ask if he can keep a secret and whisper the details about Kate’s magnanimous gesture. He grabs another waiter and makes me tell him, too. So much for the cone of silence. I admit to not knowing a soul, so Jose offers to introduce me to a few people he’s met during the evening. Sweet! I decline, very politely. I’m not sure how much cred I’ll have with the celebs if I’m introduced by the waiter.

Left to wander about aimlessly again, fate intervenes a second time. Against all odds, I spot a familiar face. My old hairdresser, Shane Paish [now a celebrated hairstylist to the stars]. Hugs and air-kisses all round. He’s wangled an invite because he did Cindy Crawford’s hair and make-up for the night. He’s gone way up in the world since he teased my tresses. I’m introduced to his friends, who include supermodel Sarah O’Hare. Very cool, Shane.

Anxious not to appear too needy, I decide to hit the phones again to make sure my sister got home OK. I deserted her in the media corral when the manna from heaven fluttered to my feet.

As I wander along the corridor I think leads to the phones, security guards bar my way, growling that I need a pass to go any further. What? One of these? I enquire, nochalantly waving Kate’s VIP pass around. Entry is immediately granted. I take a few steps and realise I’m smack-bang in the middle of the Inner Circle. Sly, Bruce, Cindy, Danny, Charlie … just metres away. My heart skips a beat. Oh, thank you Kate!

But I’m not quite up to tackling celebrities on my own. Not just yet. So I scuttle out and head for the security of the phones. No answer. Hmmm, have I gained entry to the hallowed circle at the expense of my sister’s life? I’ll think about that tomorrow …

Venturing out again, I track down my ex-hairdresser and convince his friend to brave the security enclosure with me. He wraps himself around my waist, I wave my pass around wildly and we bluff our way through the beefy barrier.

Inside, our heads swivel madly, taking in the scene. I spot Bill Paxton walking past. Buoyed by the excitement of it all – and three champagnes – I wave and yell out “Hey, Bill!” As you do. Bill walks over. Omigod. Did you get that? Bill Paxton walks over. Pity I’ll have to explain to everyone tomorrow. “Bill Paxton. From Apollo 13 … No? The one in the spaceship who wasn’t Tom Hanks or Kevin Bacon … No?” Twister will be out soon and my story will have much more cred.

Bill, it turns out, is a real sweetie. Pronounces my name correctly and everything. We shoot the breeze about the difficulties of making Twister, then I gleefully inform him that The Sunday Telegraph called him “Phil Paxton”. A man behind Bill looks horrified and starts waving at me frantically. I don’t quite understand. A journalist beside me informs me that the waving man is actually Bill’s manager and may be a tad concerned about the effect I’m having on Bill’s ego.

We chat about his wife and two-year-old son. What a great guy! But then, I’m not awfully discriminating. I’ve never met a celebrity I didn’t like (and I’ve met one or two, maybe three). No. I lie. Tim Ferguson was vile.

I look around for another celebrity to collar. Charlie Sheen walks past. My upfront technique seems effective, so I call out “Hey Charlie!” Charlie takes my hand, gives it a squeeze and moves on. Cool. I’m satisfied with that. He looks a bit puffy and old from drug and alcohol abuse anyway.

Since Bill is the first Hollywood celebrity I’ve ever been on first name terms with, I decide to milk it for all it’s worth. Each time I spot him, I grab his arm and ask how he’s doing. He usually replies, “Great Alana, how about you?” He remembers my name! More than once!

The journalist hanging out with Bill says they’re off to a private party in Cindy Crawford’s hotel suite. Uh-huh. Sounds good. Bill says he’s leaving. I tag along. Doesn’t hurt to be seen leaving with Bill Paxton. Even if no one in Australia seems to know who he is yet.

Downstairs, Bill says he’s tired and is going back to his suite to sleep. Bummer. I consider hiking back upstairs and introducing myself to a few more people, but I’m tired and battling the flu, so I wander off into the night. OK, so I didn’t meet Sly and Bruce, but they were very close. I could have. If I’d really wanted to …

Next day, my boyfriend tells everyone I was hanging out with Bill Pullman all night. Oh well.

Song of the day: (my sister’s favourite) Four Seasons “Oh what a night”


3 thoughts on “The night I partied with the stars

Add yours

    1. Tim Ferguson decided it would be funny to tell me all these complete lies in an interview, then roast me for publishing them because I should have checked my facts. And here I was thinking that when someone tells you something about themselves face to face you should take them at their word as a reliable source!

  1. I covered that story for Today Tonight when the ground-breaking happened in ’95 for the Planet Hollywood construction to begin. I was going through video clips of all the other openings Willis/Stallone/Crawford had attended. The sound on one video piqued my curiosity so I had the editor amp it right up. As they were swamped in flashes, cameras everywhere, smiling like the stars they were, Bruce Willis leans over and says sotto voce “here we are prostituting ourselves around the world again”. HA! Needless to say I used it, subtitled it and was NOT invited to the grand opening. Still smile about that whenever I wander down George St.

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