Hollywood comes to Planet Baltimore Restaurant: The city rolled out the red carpet as Hollywood stars, sports figures and local celebrities gathered at the Inner Harbor to open the newest attraction.

July 27, 1998|By Judith Forman | Judith Forman,SUN STAFF

Sitting casually on the ground yesterday during his break, cell phone flipped open and his back against Planet Hollywood, James Sheahan, 19, seemed not to have a care in the world.

In a few hours, limos and limelight, actors and athletes would be descending on the restaurant where he works as a line cook. But Sheahan was unfazed.

After all, he had been there, done that.

Sheahan was a prep cook and dishwasher at the Planet Hollywood in Seattle when it recently celebrated its grand opening. Seattle, Baltimore. To him, it's all the same.

"If [the celebrities] come through the kitchen, great," he said. "If not, I'm not going to get all soppy about it and cry. ... They're all just regular people."

Sheahan's was definitely a minority opinion at the Inner Harbor yesterday. By late last night, organizers estimated that 50,000 people had gathered near the Pratt Street Pavilion for the grand opening of Planet Hollywood Baltimore.

The restaurant, which has been open for business for several weeks, chose yesterday for a Hollywood premiere-style coming-out party. The red carpet was rolled out for celebrities such as actors Stephen Baldwin and Luke Perry, MTV personality Daisy Fuentes, members of the Baltimore Orioles, writer/director John Waters and athletes including Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer and ex-Colts stars Johnny Unitas and Artie Donovan.

The guest of honor was action-hero superstar Bruce Willis -- without wife and restaurant partner Demi Moore -- who performed with his band the Accelerators.

Sara Stritch had arrived in Baltimore at 9 a.m. -- along with three friends, seven posters and a video camera -- to wait in line for a chance to meet and greet the stars. Stritch, who has also been to Planet Hollywoods in London, New York, Paris and Munich, was all decked out with glitter, stars and restaurant pins.

"The whole Hollywood thing, the red carpet, it's the closest I'm ever going to get to it," said the 19-year-old from Bel Air. "I watch the Oscars and everything. I'm never going to get to one of those, so I might as well try my luck here."

Stritch spent $40 and every evening last week on the posters, one of which read: "Planet Hollywood Baltimore: The Stars Shine Here."

"My dad says if I go crazy and get in jail, he's not going to bail me out," she said. A few hours later, Stritch and company were jumping up and down, screaming and crying after snagging autographs from Perry and Baldwin.

The celebrities seemed to be enjoying the nearly perfect July evening as they made their way to the entrance, stopping to shake hands and sign autographs.

"I've been to about 15 [Planet Hollywood openings]," said Perry, better known as "Beverly Hills 90210" heartthrob Dylan. "Baltimore is right up there. It stacks up huge. Only Moscow has bigger fans."

Baldwin, much remembered for his role in the early 1990s film "Threesome," didn't have to think for long when asked which is better: Baltimore or a threesome.

"At this stage in my life, Baltimore," he joked.

Planet Hollywood Baltimore, which opened its doors to the public June 6, is one of about 80 worldwide. The chain was started in 1991 in New York and features Hollywood memorabilia, artifacts and movie clips along with food and a souvenir shop. It was founded by actors Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Moore and Willis.

Notable pieces at Planet Hollywood Baltimore include the dress Ricki Lake wore in Waters' "Hairspray"; actor Tom Cruise's shirt from "Rain Man," the Academy Award-winning film by Baltimore-native Barry Levinson; and the tuxedo Emilio Estevez wore in "St. Elmo's Fire," filmed at the University of Maryland with Moore.

But all the festivities were just in a day's work for Lt. Donald Healy, a member of the Baltimore Police Department.

"It's not exciting at all," he said. "This is another detail down at the Inner Harbor where you have big crowds. I'm not looking at celebrities. I'm looking for dippers, pickpockets.

"I'm making sure people are safe," he said. "But if Daisy Fuentes comes up and holds her hand up to me, I will shake it. Courtesy is a big part of our job."

Pub Date: 7/27/98

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