Pret-a-Reporter

5 Ways to Get to Grauman's

L.A.'s top limo drivers share their secrets for arriving on time to a Hollywood premiere.

On the night of a premiere in Hollywood, it's the limousine driver whose job is on the line if he's late delivering his A-list charges to the red carpet. So you can be sure the city's car-service pros know what they're talking about when it comes to navigating L.A.'s infamous traffic, from the shortcuts and bypasses to Hail Mary moves. "I rarely use a GPS, and I won't stay on the main drags," says a driver who regularly ferries a studio head and an Oscar-winning director. "I will hit an alley in a minute if I have to."

THR talked to drivers about one of the industry's hallowed treks: gliding along Hollywood Boulevard for an elegant arrival at Grauman's. We set four starting points: the Century City agencies, Sony in Culver City, the Valley studios (whose execs love the convenience of a Hollywood premiere) and Mandeville Canyon (whose denizens pray for Westwood bows). The drivers revealed their tips for those of us who don't get to sit back and let someone else do the rush-hour worrying. And guess what? The way offered by Bette Davis -- who, when asked the best way for aspiring actresses to get into Hollywood, replied, "Take Fountain" -- still works.

Hollywod & Highland's Secret Alley: The important thing at the end of the drive is to arrive heading west on Hollywood Boulevard. To accomplish that, some drivers going up Orange take Orchid Avenue -- which actually loops into the Hollywood & Highland complex -- and palm a few bucks to security guards at an interior loading dock. That allows them to sneak through the Renaissance Hotel onto Highland and  hang an easy right onto Hollywood.

5 TIPS FROM L.A. LIMO DRIVERS!

Don't Expect Good Gossip: Pumping drivers for dirt on other clients -- as in, "Who else do you drive?" or, "What is so-and-so like?" -- isn't gonna get you anywhere. The industry's most in-demand drivers have taken a vow of omerta.

Reserve Ahead for the Oscars: During Academy Awards season, limo  companies bring in additional out-of-town drivers, some of whom might not know Doheny Road from Doheny Drive. So make sure to lock up your preferred driver ahead of time.

The Rule on Tipping: A tip is included with the bill, but flipping some cash is a welcome gesture. According to one limo driver, "The Disney execs are the most gracious, but the people from Paramount are probably the best tippers."

Learn the Limo Lingo: When the car is "iced," that means it's champagned up. A "sweat session" is when passengers get intimate in the back seat. An 8-pack is a limo that holds eight passengers, and a 10-pack is one that holds 10.

Don't Abuse Your Driver: A famous singing diva once flung one of those heavy lead-crystal tumblers at her driver. With his supervisor's permission, the driver summarily dumped her off by the side of the road in Malibu to fend for herself.

 
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