I walk into Pioneer Bar on Friday night to meet the girls, who are giddy and giggly about a certain familiar-looking patron standing at the end of the bar:
Jeff Corwin, Animal Planet hottie and wildlife aficionado. "No way," I said. "Yes way," said the bartenders: They checked his ID just to be sure. I'm not shy, and my girlfriends asked me to go say hi to the famous face and find out what had brought him to our beloved Pio.
Now, we get our share of celebrity sightings in Alaska and interactions are tricky. Remember Sean Penn's fly-bys at Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse earlier this year? What are the rules about approaching? Avoid gushing, read the body language and such, and be prepared to skeedaddle if the intrusion is clearly unwelcome. If they don't want to talk, don't take it personal.
So here's Jeff Corwin, a guy out enjoying a night out with the guys (he had, by this point, moved on to the shuffle puck table with his posse).
I approach Jeff and open brilliantly: "Are you really Jeff Corwin?"
Jeff smiles: "Yes, I am."
We're off to a great start, eh?
Turns out, Corwin has been in Alaska for weeks now "keeping a low profile" and filming a new Animal Planet show called "Into Alaska with Jeff Corwin" (not exactly original, but memorable at least). He's a perfectly nice guy and while he didn't seem completely overjoyed to have a stranger in his face, he was polite and answered all my questions.
Jeff said he had just put daughter Maya to bed and decided to hit the town with his buddies. Was enjoying Pio, loves Alaska -- it's his fourth visit to the state, in fact.
His Alaska special on our home turf will air later this fall. Stay tuned!
-- by Katie Pesznecker