I recently went to New York not to see celebrities but to actually see and experience New York for the first time. But I did see celebrities. Unexpectedly.
When you roam the city, do not be surprised if you see yourself suddenly in the middle of a teen girl mob chasing a black vehicle with Justin Bieber in it. It seems that New York is the new Hollywood. As I’ve written in another blog post, maybe because this is a truly inspiring city where you can dream to make it big. I have to admit, I felt the rush of celebrity sightseeing in the Big Apple. Hence, based on my experience, here’s a guide on how to spot a celebrity in New York City.
1. See the Today Show.
Morning shows are interesting to watch especially when they have lively anchors, awesome guests, summer concerts, and when they tape live on the streets of Rockefeller Center. NBC’s The Today Show does just that. Do you want to see Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Willie Geist and a special guest all in one show? Your first step to a guaranteed entry is to RSVP for the show. If time is an issue and you are already in the area, you can just walk in to the show, especially when there are less crowds (of course they want more visitors especially when they do a live aerial shot).
The show is located in Rockefeller Center between 48th and 49th streets and 5th Ave. and the Avenue of the Americas (6th Ave.). Arrive by or before 6 a.m. While the broadcast doesn’t start until 7 a.m., you’ll want to get to the plaza early to get a good spot. For best viewing, arrive early and find a spot close to 49th Street, which is where the anchors typically broadcast.
2. Score ‘standby’ tickets to the Jimmy Fallon show.
You can book free tickets to see a taping of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon by going to: tonightshowtix.com, with all available dates listed on their calendar. They release tickets one month at a time, and typically announce the release date for each month’s tickets during the first week of month prior.
But that would mean you’d have to book months ahead! What if you’re just touring NYC minding your own business and find out that you wanted to watch the show when you just so happened to pass by the show streamers at the NBC studios at Rockefeller Center in NYC? And his guest for the day is the president of the United States?
What to do: Secure a spot at the line by the “NBC Studios" marquee on the 49th Street side of 30 Rockefeller Plaza as early as 6AM. They will be giving out unguaranteed ‘standby’ tickets, meaning tickets for those priceless reserved-but-didn’t-show seats, ’til 9AM. Don’t come last minute though, as the tickets the’re giving out are numbered, which will further lessen your chances of getting in if you’re guest #100 (they usually give out 100 tickets). To ensure that you are lining up on a day of taping (you don’t want to line up for nothing, right?), you can call their ticket office at (212) 664-3056 to confirm if they are taping on your desired day.
If you want, you can fall in line right after the Today Show just around the corner. Convenient, eh?
3. See if there’s anything going on at the Radio City Music Hall.
Long lines, promoters giving out free tickets, and obvious signages – these are what you should look for. Try to go there at around after lunch hours – most shows start in the evening but free tickets do run out early in the afternoon.
In my case, I was just walking by the music hall when somebody approached me and asked if I wanted free tickets to the live showing of America’s Got Talent with Heidi Klum in the show. Ah, lemme think first. Fine by me!
4. If you are unable to get inside, go ‘paparazzi’ mode.
If you can’t get in, see if there is an actual taping on that day and who the guests are. You can ask the promoters moving around the premises those information. If there are any, try to loiter around the street between Radio City Music Hall and the NBC studios in Rockefeller and be alert for packed crowds at building entrances/exits (and then get your camera ready for some action). In my case, I was able to see Heidi Klum, Howard Stern, Justin Bieber, and Nick Cannon.
5. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge (by foot).
The magnificent Brooklyn Bridge inspires so many, and it’s no surprise to see music videos that are shot in this bridge. When you go to visit Brooklyn Bridge, don’t just take a picture in its foot then leave. Cross the bridge by foot and you may see the next big thing in music.
If all else really fails, one can just hope to see celebrities doing their daily business in the streets of New York, just like what the average people do. After all, this is New York City, and unlike Los Angeles, celebrities living in New York City do not really have the luxury of buying a whole neighborhood (how can you buy Manhattan?) just so they can have their privacy in a concrete jungle.