BY THE TIME MAC heads back to his dress­ing room, I'm ready to follow him anywhere.

"You know, Bernie, I could get used to being around you," I say. "I feel special."

"You are special, man!" he exclaims. "Come with me."

I've been following Mac ever since his first feature film, Mo' Money, followed by his breakout role in Spike Lee's 1996 docu­drama Get on the Bus. I watched him almost steal the HBO flick The Original Kings of Comedy, co-starring fellow comedians Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and D.L. Hughley, in which Mac complained he was the only "king" without his own TV show. A year later, in 2001, Fox launched The Bernie Mac Show, about a comedian suddenly made guardian of his sister's three children. Then came starring roles in Ocean's Eleven and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. This month, the 46-year-old Mac stars in Mr. 3000, a comedy about an egomaniac, past-his-prime ballplayer who attempts a comeback after selfishly quitting in the middle of a game after his 3,000th hit.

"Think of it this way, Bernie," I say. "I'm going to Chicago this weekend to visit family, and I need to know where to go and what to do."

Mac Daddy nods conspiratorially.

"Where you staying?"

"Where should I stay?" I ask.

"You're staying at the Four Seasons," he insists (for all of Bernie's recommendations, see the left pane). "They have a great breakfast. Get you some strawberry pancakes with pineapple on the side, with maple syrup and Canadian bacon. Get you a nice little omelet. Get you some orange juice and some hot coffee with Bailey's."

"Bailey's for breakfast?"