Friday, July 12, 2013

The TMZ Tour: Star Spotting And Gossip Dishing, NYC Style!

By: Anne M. Raso

I was lucky enough to take the TMZ Tour of NYC  last weekend. The luxurious 52-seat coach is emblazoned with the TMZ logo and stays true to the tabloid TV show of the same name. Guests get to see funny vignettes and take quizzes about stars--which results in official TMZ NYC T-shirts as prizes--as the tour proceeds. Many landmarks of NYC are included along the way, including the Ed Sullivan Theater (which, of course, currently houses the David Letterman Show), Macy's, Central Park and the elite hotels of Central Park South, including the Ritz-Carlton (which seems to be the top pick of where to stay for out-of-town celebs these days).

Most importantly, along the way, you get to see actual footage of star scandals and their aftermath--and then drive by the actual location. The tour sticks to incidents that have happened in recent times, so folks over 60 might be saddened to not see any of the classic stars of yesterday included (I was kind of hoping to be going past where Marilyn Monroe last lived on East 57th Street in 1963)--but there are plenty of thrills for those of all ages. You can see the former site St. Jerome Club in Soho where Gaga hosted burlesque shows and allegedly did some dancing herself. (The monitors show a dark-haired Gaga in a bra and garter belts at the club when the tour goes by.)
You get to go past FAO Schwartz where Suri Cruise through a hiss fit last year, Jay-Z and Beyonce's posh pad in a former warehouse in Tribeca, the Marquee Club where Lindsay Lohan supposedly slapped a tarot card reader who was doing free readings for party guests and the West Village townhouse owned by Jim Carrey which he uses as an art studio (and was caught painting whimsical characters on the facade by the TMZ cameras recently). There are plenty of Kardashian jokes along the way and the frenzy the opening of the sisters' store in Soho caused. As the tour drives by the rather plain-looking store called Dash, the guide confesses to being a K-sisters fan and to having paid $10 for a bottle of the store's official water!
The most bizarre stop on the tour is a park diagonally across from the Spring Street stop of the A/C/E subway line (at Sixth Avenue), where actor Jonah Hill was caught photographing placenta left on the ground after a woman gave birth there last year. The footage was a little hard to watch but everyone on the bus laughed as we drove by and viewed the nasty spot right after the film rolled! You would have thought that the paramedics who helped delivery that baby would have cleaned up a little better, LOL! There is also footage shot exclusively for the tour by famous rocker John Mayer, where he walks around downtown and see if anyone guesses whom he is--and they hysterically enough don't!
I was lucky enough to the funny, cute and knowledgeable Aussie tour guide Matt Chadwick. Chadwick is a talented singer who was a finalist on Australian Idol back in 2003 (he currently gets to do a weekly segment on TMZ besides being a guide). I would say that the two-hour tour is well worth the price of $49 for adults and $39 for kids even if you have never watched TMZ. Not only is it fun to drive around on a terrifically luxurious bus with giant windows and many monitors--but it's a real hoot to have a tour guide who keeps you engaged with interesting talk about the stars and famous NYC sites. Chadwick goes the extra mile and gives riders his personal his dealings with the stars both in and outside the tour.

Just in case you are curious, star watching is encouraged as the bus travels around Manhattan and very often stars are invited to come on board and speak to the guests. The guides will go out and speak to them--most recently, Chris Rock was approached but got too shy to come on board the bus, but Breaking Bad star RJ Mitte spent quite a long time hangin' with the TMZ Tour NYC gang. There are two tours on Saturday (at 1 and 4PM) that are the most crowded ones for the entire week, so book your seats early.

TMZ head honcho Harvey Levin said when the tour started back on May 18th that he "wants it to be like a live Broadway show" and it is certainly like that--but with a greater degree of unpredictability. The guides ask a lot of questions to the guests on the bus about what stars they admire as well as the ones that they don't, and it creates a lot of laughs. There are plenty of jokes about the stars and the TMZ staff, and the on-screen quizzes including "Guess The Celebrity" are super engaging. I say that the TMZ Tour NYC is the most interesting city tour out there right now and happily it includes both famous and obscure incidents that have happened to today's reality stars, rappers and movie stars. Some of the situations seem almost unbelievable, but in true TMZ fashion, they have film to back everything up!

Photos: Anne Raso/TMZTours

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