Celebrity Sightings Common On Upper Cape

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By: Christopher Kazarian
Published: 08/10/12

At the beginning of this month former New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi was seen at the Courtyard Restaurant & Pub in Cataumet, rubbing shoulders with Cape residents. Just a few weeks earlier, former Boston Red Sox catcher and captain Jason Varitek was seen with his family, enjoying the sights at the Barnstable County Fair. And earlier last month, actress Meg Ryan was seen shopping along Falmouth’s Main Street.

While the Upper Cape will never be confused with Los Angeles or New York City, it has become a regular playground for the rich and famous, whether here for a few hours en route to Martha’s Vineyard, a weekend jaunt or a week’s vacation.

Celebrity sightings here are more common than one might think. The area has seen such A-list celebrities as Spike Lee, Luke Wilson, Samuel L. Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal in recent years

Perhaps the biggest name to grace Falmouth recently has been film director James Cameron (“The Terminator”; “Titanic”; “Avatar”) who came to town in April 2011 for a meeting at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to discuss what WHOI Director of Research Laurence P. Madin described at the time as “our common interests in the science and technology of deep sea exploration.”

He spent the night at the Woods Hole Inn, which has become a popular resting spot for such luminaries.

While owner Elizabeth S. Colt, whose husband, P.K. Simonds, is a screenwriter (“Ghost Whisperer”), was somewhat guarded about revealing too many details of past guests, she did say that in June actor and friend Timothy Olyphant (”Deadwood”) stayed at the inn for a night before heading to Martha’s Vineyard for the week. “We had a lovely dinner with him and ate at Quicks Hole,” Ms. Colt said. “He said, ‘This whole Woods Hole thing is really fantastic. We’ll definitely have to come back here’.”

Falmouth: Attractive To Celebs

Ms. Colt said Falmouth has great beaches, restaurants, old-fashioned country fairs and homemade ice cream, all traits that make this part of the Cape just as appealing as the island without the hassle of a boat or plane ride. “My feeling is forget Menemsha. Hello Megansett,” Ms. Colt said. “Celebrities are not stupid. There are a lot of good reasons to stay in Falmouth. Quite a lot of celebrities may stop here sometimes on their way to the Vineyard and it’s a way to break up the trip. Other times they are just coming to check the area out.”

Celebrities are not stupid. There are a lot of good reasons to stay in Falmouth. Quite a lot of celebrities may stop here sometimes on their way to the Vineyard and it’s a way to break up the trip. Other times they are just coming to check the area out.

                                                         Beth Colt 

One of those who broke up his Vineyard trip just three summers ago was funny man Steve Carell (”The Office”; “Forty-Year-Old Virgin”) who used it as an opportunity to tour the Woods Hole Inn and then ate below at Ms. Colt’s restaurant, Quicks Hole.

Farther uptown at the Captain’s Manor Inn, Mary (Trish) P. and Kevin R. Robinson were hosts to actors Robert Vaughn (”The Magnificent Seven”; “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”) and Broadway star Melissa Errico, shortly after the Robinsons purchased the inn in 2010.

The pair of veteran actors were in town shooting a short film, “Patrimony,” that screened at the Woods Hole Film Festival last summer. “They were fantastic and Robert Vaughn still has his deep, rich baritone voice so that was neat and Melissa is very gifted as a singer,” Ms. Robinson said. “I definitely follow their careers now and am Facebook friends with Melissa so I can watch what she’s doing, which is great fun.”

At La Cucina Sul Mare on Main Street, owners Mark and Cynthia Cilfone have opened their doors in the past to former Red Sox owner John Harrington, FOX 25 morning announcer Gene Lavanchy, and former Celtics player and coach K.C. Jones.

“I’m not surprised we get so many celebrities,” Ms. Cilfone said, “I think it is beautiful down here. Falmouth is gorgeous and it is just an awesome, awesome place.”

On her wish list of celebrities she would like to meet is Matthew McConaughey, who was in town in 2006. “I think I saw him eating ice cream at Ben and Bill’s and he said, ‘Hi’ to me and I got nervous and ran away,” she said. “I don’t know what came over me. He scared me away. He was cute.”

Sports Stars Abound

For the sports enthusiasts, the Courtyard Restaurant in Cataumet usually draws a number of local legends, particularly since its owner is former Boston Bruins enforcer Jay Miller. Along with Joe Andruzzi, former Bruins alumni Lyndon Byers, former Patriots backup quarterback Scott Zolak and former New York Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch have been seen there this summer.

“We do get a lot of celebrities,” said Mr. Miller’s wife, Paula P. Miller, listing Samuel Jackson and the Farrelly brothers as some of the bigger names in recent years. “I think it’s because this is not as well known as other parts of the Cape, it makes this so special. It’s not too overcrowded, you don’t get a lot of traffic and you have beautiful beaches. I think it’s a great well-kept secret, this area.”

James D. Underdah Jr., general manager of the Coonamessett Inn on Gifford Street, Falmouth, said the inn has counted Meg Ryan, TV host Phil Donahue, and actress Christie Brinkley and her former husband Billy Joel as past guests. “Billy Joel even played the piano here,” he said.

At the inn’s sister restaurant, the Flying Bridge, staff catered to Aerosmith frontman and former “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler, who dined at the waterfront eatery a few years ago. “It was hard not to recognize him, but he wanted to be kept away from people. He didn’t want to be swarmed,” manager Tyler Hayes said.

When asked whether he thought Cape residents were reasonable enough to honor those wishes for other celebrities, Mr. Hayes said, “I doubt it these days. I don’t think anybody leaves them alone anymore. If they see a celebrity, they want to make a spectacle about it.”

I like to think the smartest people on Earth are the ones we get to come here because they realize Cape Cod, and Falmouth, is a little bit of heaven. 

                                                    Kevin Murphy

But Ms. Colt, who has lived in Los Angeles, disagreed, pointing out that is one of the reasons celebrities come to Cape Cod. “There is a New England way about people that is taciturn and polite and not in your face,” she said. “Plenty of room is given for people’s privacy. There are certain places they can’t go because they’re famous so it compromises their ability to be part of the real world, so when they come here it is a relief. I don’t think the Cape is a culture that values celebrity.”

It is that tack which Bleu owner and chef Frederic Feufeu takes when such notables as former TV newscaster Charles Gibson and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft have dined at his Mashpee restaurant. “It’s always fun to see someone famous, but you try to leave them alone,” he said. “Unfortunately for them, they walk in the restaurant and people recognize them right away.”

Kevin E. Murphy agreed, saying that he usually asks his patrons to respect the privacy of celebrities who have stopped into his restaurant, Shuckers World Famous Raw Bar in Woods Hole, for a drink or bite to eat. Among those have been Billy Joel, Kevin Bacon and his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, and Luke Wilson.

As to why the region has become a small pocket for these types, Mr. Murphy explained, “I like to think the smartest people on Earth are the ones we get to come here because they realize Cape Cod, and Falmouth, is a little bit of heaven,” he said.

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