A tacky & terrific two hours

All aboard!

All aboard!

Have you ever watched TMZ and wondered what it would be like to be part of the paprazzi bedlam? Well, lucky for you, your wildest dreams can come true.

At the heart of touristy Los Angeles is Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. And at the front of the theatre is a small kiosk where you can purchase tickets for the official TMZ tour. It’s the most tacky, terrific two hours you can have in Los Angeles. Period.

TMZ stands for “thirty mile zone,” a term that originated in the 60s to delineate what counted as “on” or “off” location shoots, centered at Beverly and La Cienega boulevards. The thirty mile zone represents the center of all-things Hollywood and that is just what the tour presents.

An LA landmark - the Saks where Winona was arrested for shoplifting.

An LA landmark – the Saks where Winona was arrested for shoplifting.

On the tour you’ll see classic Hollywood locations – Whisky A Go Go, where Jim Morrison and the Doors were the house band in 1966; hotels where major drama goes down – The London where Kim Kardashian was “flour bombed”; and even random street corners were actors go from A-listers to creeps, ahem… Hugh Grant.

If you are a TMZ fan, you will have a blast as your tour guide is an actually staff member from the show. Our tour was led by Adrienne and she went back and forth with dry wit and crude commentary. Adding to the entertainment are videos shown on the bus that coincide with stops along the tour.

What sets this tour apart more than anything is your guide – and in turn you – are on the hunt for celebrities. They have their infamous TMZ cameras at the ready and if you spot a celebrity they will leap off the bus and film them. We drove by Reese Witherspoon walking down Rodeo Drive but she was pregnant. Holding the hand of her toddler. The handholding expectant mother was spared exploitation and we drove slowly past.

As you snap photographs from the tour, people on the street are yelling “TMZ!” back at you. It’s a stupefying state of affairs – you on the hunt for celebrities taking pictures as tourists take pictures of you. Like I said, it’s tacky and terrific.

What else you need to know: If you’re staying near a mediocre hotel at LAX, like I did, you’ll need to take an $80 cab ride to Hollywood. Starline Tours handles the booking and you can do it in person or online. Often a discount is offered if you go online.

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About Young is the new black

Latte-addicted 20-something. Serious consumerist. Join me as I shop, travel & eat – hopefully getting good customer service along the way!

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