Relay: Rubbing Elbows With Celebrities

They really are just like us, only a bit more uncomfortable in public

Most of us who live and work out here often find ourselves in close proximity to celebrities. They dine in our restaurants, shop in our stores, and even run lemonade stands with their children.

Over the summer we had Jimmy Fallon, Bono, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Schumer, multiple newscasters, Liev Schreiber, Chelsea Clinton, Chris Martin of Coldplay surfing at Ditch, and Scarlett Johansson. I know this because my three college-educated children work in local restaurants.

Seeing them off the glossy pages of magazines and the big screen makes you realize that they really are just like us, only a bit more uncomfortable in public. I often wonder if making the big bucks is worth it. Scarlett Johansson was so uncomfortable walking into a restaurant that she held her head down and kept trying to cover her face with her hair, which is really too short these days to accomplish that.

I’m not much of a celebrity worshipper but I would like to meet Dominic West and Ruth Wilson, who play Noah and Alison in “The Affair” on Showtime, which is supposedly set in Montauk. I gave it my best try as we were working on a piece about it, but their public relations people ignored my requests for a picture. And when they filmed out here earlier this summer, the security around the set was so tight that you would have thought the president was in town.

Before the series began its first season last fall, television critics from several publications wrote that Montauk was the real star of the series. Problem with that is that most of it wasn’t even filmed in Montauk. It made me realize that editing is an amazing thing. In the series, the Montauk Lighthouse would show up in the weirdest of places, and the house that Alison lived in, which she said was just over the dune at Ditch Plain, was actually in Amagansett.

I’m not being politically biased here, but my favorite brush with celebrity was when I met Hillary Clinton. She was in Montauk to meet with fishermen and discuss federal regulations that they felt were unfair. She visited the Montauk Lighthouse and the Coast Guard Station on Star Island, and everywhere she went crowds formed.

Later that day I was dining at Gosman’s with my family, including my 89year-old mother, who enjoyed a good martini before dinner. Mrs. Clinton was also eating there with the fishermen, all of whom I knew. An owner of Gosman’s asked her if I could take a picture for the paper, and she agreed. But it was her departure that caused a stir among other diners, who surrounded her to shake her hand and ask to take photos with her, which she graciously agreed to.

Our table was nearby, so when I said goodbye to her I asked if she wouldn’t mind just saying hello to my mom, who was too old to walk over to her. Her aides and Secret Service people went into a tizzy, but she ignored them and followed me to our table. She held both my mother’s hands in hers, said how nice it was too meet her, and then posed for a picture.

My mother was nice to everyone we introduced her to, so she smiled and exchanged a few words with her before Hillary’s people shuffled her away. After they left the restaurant, the rest of us were saying how cool it was that she did that. Sensing something exciting had just happened, my mother, already on her second martini, lipstick a bit smeared, her ever-present wiglet slightly askew, turned to me and said, “Who was that, Jan?”


Janis Hewitt is a senior writer for The East Hampton Star.