My name is Diane Farr. I'm an actress. If you were to bump into me, your first thought might be, "I think I went to high school with that girl." But you didn't.

If you keep this thought to yourself and continue jogging your memory, you might envision me with a gun or a fire hose. This is not because I've been lurking around your house. I have played a cop, a firefighter and an FBI agent over the last decade on TV. If you have managed to keep all of these thoughts to yourself so far, you may then approach me and say, "I know you!" Even though you don't.

If you push yourself, you might get my name right. But more than half the time you will say, with tremendous excitement, "You're Jamie Farr!"

Jamie Farr is a 75-year-old man who grew up in Ohio and went on to play Klinger on "M*A*S*H." Unfortunately, I know just about everything Jamie Farr does because even those who get my name right often assume Jamie is my father.

Or even my husband. Holy Toledo!

Despite being a working actor and writer, I find the media attention paid to celebrities silly. I say this not as a celebrity, but as a junior varsity celebrity as evidenced above -- which is just as annoying now as it was in 10th grade when you played on the "other" team no one really wanted to watch.

But an actual star sighting, be it backstage at the Shrine or in line at the deli counter, is always exciting -- even to other stars.

I once saw Jean-Claude Van Damme beg his lawyer to introduce him to Christina Aguilera. Van Damme was so star-struck that Aguilera -- 17 at the time -- had to carry the conversation, which came off like a toddler teaching a grown-up the L-M-N-O-P part of the alphabet.

So, what should you do if you see a celebrity and don't have a highly paid lawyer for a wingman? Just use my checklist before attempting conversation with the well-known.

First, know who the celebrity is. Don't walk up to Jewel and tell her you loved "Bridget Jones's Diary." Renee and Jewel are not the same. Neither are Mickey Rourke and Jesse Ventura or Lisa Ling and Lucy Liu or the three guys on "Friends." Getting a celebrity wrong is telling them "You're not so cool" with a big smile. It's also best if you know an actor's real-life name. I know for sure that Tony, Carmela, Meadow and even Adriana are kind of over that job.

Second, look at what the famous person is doing. Fighting with their lover/partner/mistress or dog? Feeding their crying children? If the human being behind the sunglasses is looking vulnerable, now is not the time to intrude because, truthfully, no actor/singer/athlete/politician wakes up in the morning with a burning desire to meet you.

Last, make a plan to vacate the renowned person's space. Remember that animals get hungry and tired and sometimes bite. So, decide if one or two minutes are enough with the silverback or lioness dressed in Prada, and then walk away after saying hello or getting an autograph.

And for the fan who rushes and gushes over me saying, "I love you Jamie Farr!" -- I'll still give a smile. Because if I'm quiet you may go away quickly without asking me the seemingly harmless question, "What do I know you from, again?" Which -- hello! -- requires me to run through my whole resume in front of you and everyone else now listening in at the DMV or gynecologist's office or Kmart checkout line. So from me, Jamie Farr and every A-lister you admire: A smile and a "good job" will do.

Diane Farr is known for her roles in "Californication," "Numb3rs" and "Rescue Me," and as the author of The Girl Code: The Secret Language of Single Women.






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