Stars will be here, but not the biggest

Staff WriterJanuary 27, 2011 

— RALEIGH -- If celebrity hunting is high on your to-do list during NHL All-Star Weekend, you may need a backup plan.

According to the league, no big-name celebrities have requested tickets to the game at the RBC Center this weekend, which is typically how most stars get hooked up for these kinds of events.

There's still a chance that celebrities who have relationships with individual teams will go that route for tickets or will buy tickets on the Internet like a regular Joe Hockey. But it's a blow if your All-Star Weekend fantasy involved a chance encounter with Mike Myers or Adam Sandler at the Krispy Kreme.

Nirva Milord, publicity director for the NHL, says plenty of stars show up for NHL playoff games. Recall actors Cuba Gooding Jr. and Tim Robbins at the RBC Center during the Carolina Hurricanes' Stanley Cup run in 2006, or Vince Vaughn wearing the jersey of his beloved Chicago Blackhawks last season.

But the biggest obstacle in getting celebrities to the All-Star Game (apart from Raleigh being 2,500 miles from Hollywood) is the perfect storm of other celebrity events going at the same time, Milord said.

Oscar nominations were announced just this week, keeping many stars busy with interviews and other appearances. Also, the Sundance Film Festival in Utah is going on all week, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards show takes place on game night in Los Angeles.

But that doesn't mean there will be zero star power in town, either. Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith Grey on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," will be in downtown Raleigh briefly Friday to promote the NHL's Hockey for Huggies campaign, a program that helps families who can't afford to buy diapers.

The rock band 3 Doors Down also will be in town to give a free concert Friday night at the Raleigh Amphitheater downtown and will sing at the first intermission of Sunday's All-Star Game.

Triangle favorite Clay Aiken will perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the game, and The Canadian Tenors will sing "O Canada."

There's also a good chance you could spy NASCAR racers such as Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Regan Smith in the stands, as well as retired professional wrestler Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair. And "Days of Our Lives" actress Natalia Livingston is expected to attend.

But because this weekend is all about the hockey, the biggest stars on hand will be those more comfortable on skates than in limos. The NHL expects former players Willie O'Ree, Pat LaFontaine, Jeremy Roenick and Grant Fuhr, as well as former Hurricanes Aaron Ward, Glen Wesley and Rod Brind'Amour, so have your Sharpies ready just in case.

Bottom line for stargazers: If you spot an overly tanned dandy in a feather boa screaming "Wooooo!" in the stands, that's probably Flair. But that golden-haired looker in the hot dog line? Probably not Kiefer Sutherland.

Staff writer Brooke Cain will be reporting on celebrity sightings this weekend on The News & Observer's CanesNow blog at blogs.newsobserver.com/canes and via Twitter. Follow her at @WarmTV at twitter.com/warmtv and tweet her your celeb sightings.

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