Written by Sarah

Contagion is filming in Chicago, which makes no sense as it’s bitter cold and miserable and whoever comes to Chicago in winter to film outside is obviously a lunatic. Lainey is mad at me because I won’t stalk the actors (Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon are currently in town and others expected on and off over the next couple months), but that doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention. It just means I’m not a lunatic, so I’m not standing on street corners in ten degree weather to look at people I’ve seen before.

As for what the cast is up to—not much. Gwyneth has been to some popular eateries. Have heard she’s polite and personable and more than one person has commented—“She eats!” Gwyneth may work out like a beast but she doesn’t deprive herself at mealtime. But Gwyneth is not the most popular around town. That would be Matt Damon.

Damon has laid low, finally getting busted at sports bar/pub Jake Melnick’s—a touristy place a couple blocks off Michigan Avenue. He’s been taking in football games and hanging out with members of the Contagion crew.

This is why everyone loves Matt Damon. He’s normal. He’s friendly, pleasant, and he hangs out with the below the line guys. Want to know what a celebrity is really like? Ask a gaffer. So many actors never bother to get to know the technicians, grips, and PAs that populate the sets they work on, but these guys are Damon’s buddies. And that he can be found in a sports bar on a Monday night after work, just like everyone else, watching football and having drinks with his boys is making him quite popular here.

Chicago can be hard on celebrities. There are some celeb-friendly hangouts (douche central Rockit Bar & Grill comes to mind), but generally speaking, people here aren’t into The Show so many celebrities put on. Our favorite Hollywood visitors are the “normal” guys like Damon—Christian Bale, Vince Vaughn and Johnny Depp all have good reputations around town as being pleasant, accessible and relaxed.

Damon is in town through the New Year but I’m not expecting to hear much more about him. When Chicagoans feel like a celebrity is just another working stiff wanting to chill after work, they can get really protective. When everyone loves you they respect your privacy.

Lainey: Fine, but what would happen to Chicago if Twilight came to town? Or the Brange?

Sarah: Twilight and the Brange have both come to town. The Brange shut down an entire floor of a hotel and despite being seen out at the museum, weren't accessible at all courtesy their entourage and drivers. That's what I mean about "The Show". It's a major production with them and while people always like to see famous celebrities, it doesn't exactly create a warm fuzzy impression. I conducted an informal straw poll of celebrities popular in Chicago (thank T for helping!), and the Brange didn't make the list. And Twilight is never here long enough to count. They jet in for one day and jet right back out. It's not like they really have a chance to do the town or anything.

Attached – this just in from Katie M. It’s Matt on set this morning waving to fans! Thanks Katie!