Escape from the valet of the dolls

THE celebrities were A-list, the guest of honor charming, the Champagne flowing. But if you got trapped in the gridlock heading into and out of the recent American Cinematheque salute to George Clooney at the Beverly Hilton, here’s what you needed more than one of those (very heavy) gift bags: an exit strategy.

A spokeswoman for the hotel, home to awards including the Jan. 15 Golden Globes, blamed a miscalculated guest-to-valet ratio, and said parking is “better than ever” now.

But if you don’t want to take any chances, we have two words for you: street parking.

Just a few blocks away in Beverly Hills, try going east on Wilshire Boulevard past Santa Monica Boulevard or south a few blocks -- street parking should be available on nearby streets such as Spaulding and Linden, especially after 6 p.m. (Read the parking signs.) The more adventurous might head north of Santa Monica Boulevard.


The smug satisfaction you’ll feel as you walk past the cars backed up on Wilshire trying to make that left turn into the hotel will make the schlep all worth it. And isn’t avoiding traffic the true L.A. award?

Next week: the art of the mingle.

-- Richard Nordwind