Though celebrity-hunting season doesn't start or end with the Oscars, the glitzy event signals a free-for-all on the VIP scene, with icons like Jake Gyllenhaal or sister Maggie smiling for the cameras, downing choice drinks, and leaving with the latest swag.
Such sightings, as portrayed in various glam titles, appear random - just a few VIPs out on the town - but they're not. People like Lori Levine, founder of Flying Television, a talent booking-and-brokering firm, have wrangled them, rustled them up, and placed them in prime locations to help launch a product, a charity, or even a fellow celebrity's rock band.
"It's kind of like the 'if a tree falls in the woods' theory," says Levine, who began her career booking talent for Late Night with Conan O'Brien. "If a celebrity doesn't show up to an event or party, what [will] the media write about?"
Even as many deem an online presence to be vital, many still grasp the value of a big name backing a product or showing up at an event. Levine recently helped get Kate Beckinsale (above), Billy Baldwin, and Little Miss Sunshine star Abigail Breslin to the "Chevy Rocks the Future" concert that launched the company's new series of hybrid cars.
"The entertainment media is looking to see where celebrities go, what they're doing, what products they like," says Danielle Benson, a VP of Ketchum Entertainment Marketing, which works with firms like Levine's. "Celebrity wrangling for parties or launches is a good way to get the product to the celebrity organically and not shove it down his or her throat."
However, moving VIPs requires finesse. Wranglers must ensure the star receives high priority, Levine notes. Matching them with events to which they might naturally be drawn is also essential.
It's also vital that the celebrity know the exact sequence of the evening's plans - down to the last camera click. Bad timing could not only bust up a campaign, but also a wrangler's business, warns Levine.
"A party can hinge on one or two celebrities showing up," she says. "And a good launch can depend on whether the celebrity appearance goes directly as planned."
Stars at events can boost brand awareness and lend a product/cause credibility
"Wranglers" help PR firms target the right stars for an event and can often bring them to the table
Celebrity wrangling must be precise. A bad move can end a relationship for good