Seventeen years. Almost 400 interviews. And almost 400 revealing stories. Celebrated Weekend has long been a popular staple of this magazine. And it is almost entirely due to Mark Seal (he swears he’s a mere phone call or two away from getting into Guinness World Records). But Mark not only continues to track down some of the most interesting celebrities of the moment and talk to them about their favorite cities for us, he’s also been busy compiling more than 60 of the best interviews in Celebrated Weekends: The Stars’ Guide to the Most Exciting Destinations in the World.
Just out this month, the book has excellent recommendations for places all over the world. Better yet, everything has been updated, it’s all in one easy place for you, and it will fit nicely in your carry-on.
In honor of the book, I thought I’d turn the tables on Mark and let him talk about his favorite stories and places from the past two decades.
Who were three great celebrities to interview? I loved them all, but right off the top: Harrison Ford, because even though he wasn’t sure what our interview would be about, he met me on his Wyoming ranch, gave me half of his sub sandwich for lunch, and told me all about his favorite place, Jackson Hole; Elizabeth Hurley on Paris, because she wrote every word (as opposed to a standard interview) and made me promise not to change a word. It was insightful, funny, and dead-on; most recently, Drew Barrymore, because Los Angeles is embedded in her being.
What’s the easiest thing about tracking down celebrities? They do not work alone. Each has a team — or some semblance of a team. Once we started putting them on the cover, they wanted to be found. Before that, the team members were less enthusiastic about hearing from us.
What’s the hardest thing? They’re famous and we’re not.
What are a few of your favorite restaurants when you’re on the road? Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica. It’s the mother church of L.A. Italian, and it’s run with an iron hand by Giorgio and his daughter, Elena.
L’Amis Louis in Paris (“I swear, on everything I hold sacred, that you will never, ever have tasted food so good,” said Elizabeth Hurley). I liked it more when you could still get in; there are only about 10 tables.
Wiltons in London and Galatoire’s in New Orleans. Two of the world’s best fish restaurants, in equal order.
Matsuhisa in Los Angeles. It’s the original Nobu Matsuhisa restaurant, and it’s where Nobu’s wife, Yoko, is the world’s greatest host. The sushi bar is the place to eat for one reason other than the food: eavesdropping.
Fonda el Refugio in Mexico City has incredible Mexican, with a kitchen run exclusively by women. And Mi Cocina in Dallas’s Highland Park Village, for the food, the margaritas, and most of all, the people.
Where were some of the best places you interviewed celebrities? The Mark Hotel restaurant in New York, where I interviewed Isabella Rossellini over breakfast; Chaya Brasserie in West Hollywood, where Kiefer Sutherland doggedly met me despite having suffered what his publicist described as “an excruciating kidney stone” only an hour before; and, one of the first, a vineyard in Bordeaux where Michael Caine had me meet him to discuss London.
Obviously, Mark has many more stories and places to share, and you can read all about them in Celebrated Weekends. From Ben Affleck’s Boston, Annette Bening’s San Diego, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Madrid to Elizabeth Hurley’s Paris, Jodie Foster’s Berlin, and Matthew McConaughey’s Austin (Mark calls him “a man who is so representative of his city”), this book is jam-packed with information you really shouldn’t leave home without. So be sure to check out Mark’s new tome at the nearest book store.
Sherri Gulczynski Burns