WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – A completely unhip parent did something cool for once.
I booked myself and my teenage daughter into the Hyatt West Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, the very hotel where heartthrob singer Justin Timberlake co-owns the red plush restaurant, CHI.
The bellhop, Dean, filled us in on the celebrity facts.
“On Monday nights, it’s so crowded you can’t get in. Paris and Britney were here last week,” he said, rolling our bags down the hall of the ninth floor to our nice (and I hoped quiet) room.
This hotel used to be known as the Riot Hyatt, where Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones cavorted in their heydays. The 2000 movie “Almost Famous” was partly filmed here.
“If you girls want to know where the good clubs are, let me know,” Dean said, unlocking the door to our room.
Ha. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I was far too old for Hollywood and my 18-year-old daughter was far too young.
Hollywood sounds like a great trip for families with teenagers. And there are good things to see. But they may not be the things you think.
First of all, teens expect to see celebrities walking around. We saw one – actor Chris Klein from “American Pie” and “Election” – and that’s probably one more than is normal.
The main reason? In Hollywood, nobody walks anywhere. They drive. That’s why every main road is gridlocked 24/7, but sidewalks are empty.
Second, everything in West Hollywood – the stores, coffee shops, sushi bars and hotels – is geared to a certain demographic: 21- to 35-year-olds, straight and gay.
Fred Segal, a popular department store on Melrose, stocks sizes only up to a ladies 8. The Comedy Store club has a minimum age of 21. Younger? You’ll feel like jail bait. Older? Contact the AARP.
West Hollywood may be trendy, but it also has tattoo parlors, nude dance halls and fortune tellers galore.
Third, many of Hollywood’s most famous names are ancient history to a middle- or high-schooler. Skip tours of stars’ homes and don’t buy any star books unless the names Loretta Young and Cecil B. DeMille ring a bell.
“Loretta Young? I think they talked about her once in a ‘Dawson’s Creek’ episode,” my daughter said.
Teens don’t want to see your Hollywood. They want their Hollywood – especially anything to do with the TV show “The O.C.”
But those are minor gripes. Some things in Hollywood are lots of fun for teens. Here’s a guide:
Kodak Theatre: Walk the red carpet and get the 30-minute tour of the 2001 theater built especially for the Academy Awards; it has a grand feel and an incredible sound system. They show you the room where the presenters chill and the back hall where the stars walk and screech after they win. (6801 Hollywood Blvd. Tours daily: $15 adults, $10 students. www.kodaktheatre.com, 323-308-6363)
Hollywood and Highland: A nice, newish mall that is part of the Kodak Theatre complex. It has great vantage points to look out over Hollywood Hills and the big HOLLYWOOD sign. Have your picture taken on a gigantic casting couch with L.A. in the background. (6801 Hollywood Blvd., www.hollywoodandhighland.com, 323-467-6412)
Grauman’s Chinese Theater: A bit of a disappointment if you expect to see today’s stars’ handprints and signatures in cement, though Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nicolas Cage and Tom Hanks have made their marks here, along with Marilyn Monroe and lots of old-time stars you probably never heard of. (6925 Hollywood Blvd. Free admission. www.manntheatres.com, 323-464-8111)
Hollywood Walk of Fame: The stars on Hollywood Boulevard run up and down both sides of the street between Gower and LaBrea. They include Kermit the Frog, Bugs Bunny, Britney Spears, and Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen. The newest star was awarded April 20 to “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest. ( www.hollywoodchamber.net, 323-469-8311)
The “Alias” apartment: White, California-style apartment used as Jennifer Garner’s digs on the television show. Just off Hollywood Blvd., so close you can walk from Grauman’s. (1731 N. Sycamore)
Premiere Props: A store that sells used film props and clothing, this place is fascinating in its banality. Buy scuffed shoes, lamps, jerseys, old telephones, fictional maps and weird costumes. (6806 Hollywood Blvd.; free to look. You also can buy props from many films online at www.premiereprops.com.)
Fred Segal store: If you have $50 for a T-shirt or $400 for jeans, pop into this store where the stars shop. Not recommended? Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive – the stores are so expensive no teen can afford anything in them, plus the chances you’ll see anyone famous is approximately equal to the chance of finding a free parking spot: zero to none. (8100 Melrose Ave.)
The HOLLYWOOD sign: You can see it from many places, even from your airplane seat as you fly into LAX. For a closer look, drive up North Beachwood Drive into the Hollywood Hills.
Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs: Be among the first in America to see the new exhibit devoted to one of the world’s first stars. It runs through Nov. 15 at the Los Angeles County Museum before moving on to Fort Lauderdale, Chicago and Philadelphia. Many Hollywood-area hotels are offering packages that include VIP tickets for the exhibit. (5905 Wiltshire Blvd. Tickets: $25 adults, $15 ages 6-17. www.kingtut.org, 323-857-6000; hotel packages at www.seemyla.com)
Universal Studios: The best studio tour for teens because it combines the back-lot tour with a theme park. Very enjoyable, especially the Jurassic Park ride. Allow a whole day. (100 Universal City Plaza. Admission: $47. www.universalstudioshollywood .com, 818-508-9600. Warner Bros., Sony and NBC Studios also offer tours.)
See a TV show taping: This fun way to be part of Hollywood is not as easy as it sounds for teenagers. Although lots of shows use live audiences, most require you to be at least 16 or 18 to get in. Most shows tape August through March; summer tickets are hard to come by. Best way to get tickets is through Audiences Unlimited ( www.tvtickets.com, 818-753-3470)
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