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Originally published June 24, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 26, 2007 at 3:12 PM

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Big deal, or no big deal?

The funny thing about VIP shindigs in Seattle is that you invariably find yourself looking around wondering: Who are these people? Which ones are Very...

Seattle Times columnist

The funny thing about VIP shindigs in Seattle is that you invariably find yourself looking around wondering: Who are these people? Which ones are Very Important, and why can't they wear nametags? It's all very suspect and, frankly, the concept is almost as laughable as trying to sustain a "celebrity"-driven column in Seattle. Oh ... wait.

Of course, if there is a VIP room, I want to be in it. Who doesn't? Also, I like any place that has a red carpet.

Last Sunday marked the closing-night festivities of the Seattle International Film Festival, and at the Pan Pacific Hotel there was a VIP room and a red carpet. And a velvet rope. Bonus.

SIFF drew a smattering of celebs to town this month — Anthony Hopkins, Steve Buscemi, that kid from "24" — but the most famous person I talked to at the VIP party at Marazul was Briefcase Holder #18 from NBC's "Deal or No Deal." That's right. This soiree had approximately the same amount of star power as Chipotle Mexican Grill in Bellevue, where Toni Cooper Flynn stood in line next to Rob Estes and his kids on June 11.

Toni is a nice lady from Carnation with whom I exchanged several e-mails about the hotness of Estes, who starred on "Melrose Place" and is reportedly getting better-looking with age. His kids, meantime, were mismatched in sweatpants and rubber boots, with disheveled hair, looking like they had just rolled out of bed. See? Celebrities: They really are Just Like Us!

But back to the SIFF party, where I could have sworn I saw Dr. Mike from the TV show "Ed" at the bar — but I wouldn't bet $10 on it. (Did anyone get that? Anyone? Sigh.) I would've investigated further, only I was being held captive by some guy who was saying, "Do you ever have one of those days when you skip breakfast, you skip lunch and you skip dinner because you have so much to do?" To which I replied, "No, but sometimes I have those days when I'm on a diet." What? I'm just being honest.

Continuing on this theme, how come there are no fat models on "Deal or No Deal"? Even "America's Next Top Model" has the token plus-size girl. I asked Marisa Petroro, the aforementioned #18, who was in town for the premiere of her film, "One Day Like Rain." She confirmed there are no "average-size girls" on the show, but they do have a good mix of blondes, brunettes and ethnicities.

I then asked an impressive — or oppressive, depending on your perspective — number of questions about being a "Deal or No Deal" briefcase holder, and she obliged because she is nice.

In no particular order, here are some of the answers: It's better than waitressing. It requires a lot of stamina, and smiling. If you stop smiling you might get fired. They never wear the same dress twice. Marisa fell down the stairs once. The models don't know what's in their cases. They mutter insults under their breaths to girls whose cases get chosen early, because they get to sit down. There are blankets backstage because it's cold. Marisa has never tried to use her briefcase-holder status to get a dinner reservation. She believes that "Deal" will go on forever, "like 'The Price Is Right.' "

Like I said, it was kind of a slow night.

Girl About Town appears every Sunday in Northwest Life. Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or psitt@seattletimes.com

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