In each issue, we feature a celebrity talking about a favorite city. This seems like a glamorous dream job. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with stars and talk to them about their favorite places? But as Mark Seal, who has been nabbing these celebs for us for more than 10 years, can attest, it is often a little more complicated than it looks.

“Anyone who thinks it’s glamorous to be awaiting a phone call from, say, Jennifer Lopez at 1 in the morning … well, listen, it isn’t,” says Mark. “I’ve been stood up, brushed off, and indefinitely delayed way too many times to count.”

Until this issue, the record for stand-ups was held by an Academy Award-winning actress who will remain unnamed. “She told me to meet her at her favorite little Italian restaurant in L.A.,” Mark says. “When she failed to show the first night, I chalked it up to a schedule glitch. When she failed to show the second night, I chalked it up to temporary amnesia. By the third night, the restaurant’s regulars, all of whom I’d gotten to know well after two solo evenings spent sulking in my Chardonnay, were ridiculing me as being the biggest fool in L.A. County. Just when I thought they might be right, she strolled in, and all was forgotten.”

LL Cool J is the new record holder for stand-ups. Mark arranged to talk to Cool J on the phone. They set a time for the interview, but Cool J “forgot” to call — twice. “That’s when I knew I had him,” says Mark. “Once they stand you up, a feeling of remorse usually sets in.” Sure enough, to make up for his forgetfulness, LL agreed to talk to Mark in person in New York. But while en route to the interview, Mark checked his cell phone and learned that Cool J was sick. Even worse, he couldn’t talk! “Laryngitis,” swore his publicist.

We thought all was lost and we were back to square one in our hunt for a cover boy or girl. But luckily, LL made a quick recovery, calendars were coordinated, and you’ll learn all about LL Cool J’s romantic vacation in Venice.

Just as entertaining are the rest of the stories in this issue. In the travel section, we reveal the "almost famous" (better known as up-and-coming) San Francisco spots you’ll want to check out before they make everyone’s lists. We also tell you everything you need to know about renting a fabulous villa in Jamaica.
In the lifestyle section, you can learn about life as a professional biker in the U.S. — it will make you appreciate your day job — as well as get some training tips for cycling your way into shape. There’s also important information for helping your kids deal with stress. Childhood may seem all fun and play, but our kids are often as stressed as we are, and sometimes even for the same reasons! Don’t skip our story on what’s to come from sports TV either. The ideas are as wild and varied as the reality shows that make it to the small screen these days.

There’s more futuristic thinking in our business section, where the president of MasterCard North America talks about what’s in store for our credit cards. Also near and dear to everyone’s hearts (literally) is the rising cost of health care. We offer some remedies for making it a little less painful. And you’ll impress your friends if you drop a few sound bites about the stuff that’s going on at DARPA. This government agency is cooking up all kinds of ingenious inventions that affect our lives.

Just like for most of you, things around here never seem to slow down. So while you’re reading this issue cover to cover, we’re hard at work finding fascinating stories for the next one. As for Mark Seal and our next celebrity, he says, “I’m sitting by the phone right now, waiting to interview an actress whose publicist has sworn all week that she’ll call me any minute.” At last report, Mark was still waiting.