My lunch with Katherine Heigl

Earlier today my friend Lisa and I were enjoying a nice lunch at Susina on Beverly. We scored a quiet, lovely booth in the corner. My tomato, avocado and white cheddar sandwich tasted especially yummy. Suddenly, the room darkened. Something — clouds? King Kong? — obscured the sun. Flashes exploded in the window.

Paparazzi.

Heigl and KelleyMore than I'd ever seen in one place, and I've been a news photographer. I leaned forward and saw a seething mass of dark determination filling the sidewalk. All of the swarm's energy was focused inside our cute little cafe/bakery. What the?

I looked around. Sure enough, standing at the counter were a polished blond in jeans and cream-colored flats and a tall, boyishly handsome man. Katherine Heigl and her new husband, Josh Kelley. They had apparently just entered and were placing their order. They hugged and seemed oblivious to the frenzy on the sidewalk. Not so the rest of us. We were...uncomfortable.

I know Heigl doesn't exactly hide from the tabloids, post-Knocked Up. But seeing the TMZ-era paparazzi phenomenon from this side — trapped in the fishbowl — was kind of disturbing. I got up to take a closer look, curious how big the hive had grown. There must have been 20 to 30 guys out there, most of them a sleazy-looking type I would definitely avoid at a party. The one girl I saw reminded me a little of Avril Lavigne.

They were annoyed that I blocked their view. I wanted to scream at them to leave her alone — leave us alone. Instead, I reported back to Lisa.

Lunch was spoiled. When Heigl and Kelly walked in our direction, looking for a place to settle in, I made eye contact. Ours was the most private nook in the room. There was only one right thing to do. "Why don't you guys take our table," I offered. They accepted, gratefully and with smiles. They didn't even mind our dirty plates and my leftover cup of cold coffee.

By the time we got outside, the swarm had dispersed. Some of the vultures lingered, but most had begun drifting away. Off to look for Britney maybe?


More by Judy Graeme:
Sometimes art is all about the collaboration
A peek inside Universal's closet
Helmut Newton and Los Angeles
Drummer girls
A. Quincy Jones getting his due
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