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STARDAR: The Art of Spotting Celebrities In Portland (And Other Unlikely Places)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


The Nines Hotel

The Nines Hotel

"Stardar." The mixing of two different words—stardom and radar—to create a whole new word that best exemplifies the ability to spot celebrities without actually stalking them. Stalking is not cool.

Portland, Ore., might seem like an unlikely city to spot today's hottest celebrities. But, oh, that is far from the truth. Celebrities, just like "normal" people, are attracted to Portland for many of the same reasons we all are: the environment, the ease and comfort of travel around town, and the food.

Oh, yes, the food. Local restaurants are one of the best place to rub forks with today's hottest celebrities (yes, that was Maya Rudolph eating with Fred Armisen in the corner at Navarre).

Due to its size and dense downtown district dotted with several upscale hotels, restaurants and other attractive amenities, Portland provides the perfect stage to happen upon your favorite folks from the world of movies, television and the sports and music.

So how does one hone "stardar" skills so that spotting celebs in a natural habitat like Portland becomes second nature? With a little insider knowledge, a keen eye, and these next few tips you'll never wonder why you missed "what's his name" the last time he was in town.

Know your people 

Beyond scheduled appearances at book signings, special events and concerts, celebrities rarely reveal their whereabouts to the general public. And if they just so happen to be filming a movie here you can bet the public will be the last to know. That's why it is good to make friends with those people who serve the entertainment industry in our state. Caterers, drivers, and day players including those working behind the cameras are all great sources for who is in town.

It doesn't hurt to know a few jet-setters who travel between the cities of Los Angeles and New York and who tend to travel business class.

Keep it social 

You will be surprised what pops up when you put the word "Portland" and your favorite celebrity into a Twitter search field. If someone famous is in town, there is a pretty good chance that someone spotted them leaving the airport, arriving in downtown, checking in to a hotel or just walking down the street.

That is how Al Pacino, Jane Fonda, Michelle Williams, Matthew Perry, Matthew Fox and Woody Allen were all first spotted in Portland.

Keep it chill 

The last person anyone wants to see, including celebrities, is someone walking down and...well...freaking out. That doesn't mean you can't be excited, but know that your interaction with anyone on the street is brief at best. That means you need to keep not only your wits about you, but also your wisdom. If you actually come within walking or speaking distance with a real Iive celebrity, treat them the way your mama taught you, or just like how you would like to treated. A nice head nod or a brief hello always works. Keep the winks to a minimum. They can come across twitchy and creepy.

Just remember: acting normal can go a very long way to having a normal conversation with someone who may not seem so normal to you.

No-tell hotels 

Local hotels will NEVER tell you who is staying at their hotel, even if it did happen that one time in that Julia Roberts/Hugh Grant film. But celebs have to eat and they have to sleep. So do you. If you are so bent on meeting that one person you've always wanted to meet, book dinner at the hotel restaurant where you think they might be staying, or splurge, and book a room.

You may not actually see the person you are looking for, but due to the limited number of options where a star is likely to stay, you've narrowed down your search considerably.


Related Slideshow: Top Ten Spots to Spot Celebrities in Portland

Are you hoping to get an autograph and selfie with your favorite band who is stopping in Portland? If you're on the hunt to find your favorite actors, actresses, singers, and athletes, check out this guide to where the sleep, hang out and eat in Portland. 

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The general rule of who stays where is as follows (subject to change at a moments notice): Basketball players and rock/pop/country stars can usually be found at one of the Kimpton Hotels (Hotel Monaco, Hotel Vintage Plaza, RiverPlace). Soccer players (as in David Beckham), movie stars and very famous basketball icons stay at The Nines. Movie stars and musicians on the down low can be found at Hotel Deluxe

Photo Credit: By Steve Morgan (Own work) 
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If a star is in town for a comedy show, book signing, Broadway show or performance, KATU’S morning gabfest, AM Northwest, will likely have them on the program with Helen Raptis and Dave Anderson. That is, if they are making a personal appearance. KATU also has an H-D studio on their premises that is used for satellite interviews for major networks like HLN.  


Photo Credit: William Hook via Compfight cc (image cropped)

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If it’s a super hot, right now restaurant there is a very good chance you might see a celeb sitting next to you. Recent sightings include Martha Stewart at Ava Gene’s, Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn at Andina, Michael Jordan and k.d. lang on the  balcony at Departure and pretty much anyone who has come through town at Bluehour including most of the Osborne clan.

Photo Credit: Alexis Fam Photography via Compfight cc (image cropped) 

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Celebs like to drink and listen to live music too. Sam Worthington met his future wife when she was working at Saucebox. Actor/Director Tim Robbins hit the stage at Kelly’s Olympian to sit in with a band when he was working on a film here that never quite off the ground. And the cast of “Leverage” pretty much made the Pearl District’s Touché their home away from home during the filming of that series in Portland. 

Photo Credit: Dusty J via Compfight cc
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Many a celebrity has been spotted running along the waterfront including Madonna (with two security guards in tow) when she made the movie “Body of Evidence” here in town.  Lady Gaga took a break from her tour and took a bike out along the Springwater Corridor for a little rest, relaxation and interaction with her “little monsters” (aka her fans).

Photo Credit: By Finetooth (Own work) Live Look via Wikimedia Commons

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The thought is the bigger the crowd the less likely you might see a celebrity. The inverse is true when it comes to Portland’s “living room.” It seems that the bigger the crowd the more likely a star can slip into the crowd. Guess that’s why no one batted an eye when Mikhail Baryshnikov pushed a baby stroller along the outskirts of the Square. 

Photo Credit: truflip99 via Compfight cc
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Every so often you may see a big star not on the stage of the Moda Center, but courtside at one of the Blazers games.  Yes, that is one of the richest men in the world, Paul Allen. No, you shouldn’t approach him. 


Photo Credit: By Cacophony (Own work) Live Look (image cropped) 
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Speaking of basketball, the world’s biggest ball players also have some of the biggest feet in the world. So where do they go to pick up a pair of sneaks? If you guessed some major shoe company, you’d be right (see next slide). But there’s another place you might see the biggest stars on the boards: Oddball Shoes. Brothers Zac and Seth Longaker specialize in offering shoe sizes in the double digits. It doesn’t hurt that the also have big boy toys (pinball, hoops, etc.) all over their industrial Northwest shop and the good stuff behind a well-stocked bar (1801 NW Thurman St., http://www.oddball.com).


Photo Credit: [email protected] via Compfight cc

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One of the fringe benefits of being super famous, or even just a little bit famous, is that you get “swag,” a.k.a. free stuff. And one of the biggest benefits for your band to travel through the area is that we are the home of two of the biggest sportswear apparel companies in the world: Nike and Adidas, which both have employee stores featuring items that you might not find on store shelves. And if your super big-time they might even close the employee store for as they did for (soon to be former) Adidas pitchman, Justin Bieber. 

Photo Credit: jumpyjodes via Compfight cc (image cropped) 

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If all else fails, you can always stalk…er…wait for your favorite star to leave the set of whatever film they are making in Portland. Just ask Twilight’s Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson who had a tour bus worth of fans following their every footstep around town.  

Photo Credit: magesomido via Compfight cc (image cropped)


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