To all the celebrity obsessives out there, I invite you to ponder: Is there anything that nourishes your soul more than a glimpse at stars in their natural habitats? A peek behind the curtain of the lives of the rich and famous? An awe-inspiring moment in the “Stars — They’re Just Like Us!” pages of the tabloids?
Generally, your answer is no. In January, post-holidays and mid-pandemic with nothing but time on your hands, your answer is likely extremely no.
May I present @OverheardCelebs, an Instagram account you will not regret following. The gist: It shares short stories about people’s random, real-life encounters with celebs — on the streets, at parties, in airports, at the AT&T store, etc. — submitted by followers via DM. The run-ins range from hilarious and nearly outlandish, like Bill Murray tattling on a person with a fake ID, to compassionate and incredibly touching, like Jennifer Garner praising a mom-to-be in the ladies’ room.
The page launched in September with a slew of posts that created some fodder. (The one about Harry Styles dog-sitting on the sidewalk was re-shared to my feed at least a dozen times.) Fast-forward a few months to the present, and the page has more than 270,000 followers and even nabbed the attention of many of the stars it shares stories about. (More on that later.)
This all makes sense considering the account is a collaboration between a group of people who certainly know a thing or two about hatching a social media phenom: Emma Diamond, Julie Kramer and Isabel Greenberg (of @CommentsByCelebs, the account that rounds up internet wisecracks made by famous people), as well as Jesse Margolis and Bridget Berman (of @OverheardLA, which shares bits of eavesdropped-upon conversations in Los Angeles and other cities too, if you follow its sister accounts).
The beauty of it, too, is that the page has really carved out its own identity. The savvy team established a cohesive aesthetic with clever title cards for each post — the Nicole Kidman one is just *chef’s kiss* — that gives it a personality and distinctive feel. “It merges the feeling of an old storybook with funny, heartwarming celebrity moments,” Greenberg told TMRW. “Our version of a modern day tale.”
And the foundation of @OverheardCelebs is to promote positive energy, ensuring its contents are filled with feel-good stories and devoid of the scandal-ridden kind. Think less gossip rag, more amusing tale from a friend of a friend. And that is entirely on purpose, according to the team.
“The general thing that we all agreed upon is, we don't want anything nasty,” Diamond told TMRW. “So it’s less of a celebrity blind (item) and more so just highlighting fun encounters.”
Berman agreed, adding that they dubbed @OverheardCelebs an “anti-gossip journal,” a description that also lives in the account’s bio.
The whole project is a genius idea, and one that’s proving to appeal to the masses and attract celebs themselves. As Diamond pointed out to TMRW, it's difficult to prove how true these stories are — unless a star witness (literally) takes to the comments section. Matthew McConaughey, Alec Baldwin, Bill Nye and Anna Faris are just some celebrities who have engaged with posts.
“Matthew McConaughey, when he commented on his story, verifying that it happened — I think that was one where we all kind of collectively freaked out because he's not very active on Instagram,” Diamond recalled. “It feels very full circle. ... Not only commenting, but verifying that this happened.”
TODAY’s own Hoda Kotb was the subject of a particularly moving @OverheardCelebs post from a woman who recalled her kind gesture while grieving the death of her friend. The memory stuck with Hoda too, as she recalled in a discussion on-air in October with Jenna Bush Hager.
“Not only was that Hoda story one of our best performing, but the woman who submitted it, she didn't see that it was talked about on TODAY,” Diamond shared. “So I went back to the DM, her initial submission, and I sent her the clip. She was like, ‘I’m hysterical. My friend’s parents are hysterical.’ … The reaction that she got from Hoda remembering that interaction was very, very special.”