Hollywood studios have been inviting folks for behind-the-scenes peeks since the silent era, when Universal boss Carl Laemmle came up with the idea of selling bleacher seats during shoots for 25 cents a pop.
While the standard 45-minute Universal Studios Tour is more or less a warmup for the theme park, the Exclusive Universal Studios VIP Experience ($299) at the world's largest movie and TV studio includes a personal park guide, VIP meal service, hours of front-of-line ride benefits and back-lot access to otherwise off-limits sound stages, props warehouses, costume departments and all those immortal exterior sets from your favorite old Jim Carrey and Michael J. Fox flicks.
Warner Bros. Studios is home of "Casablanca," "Rebel without a Cause," "Two and a Half Men" and the Warner Bros. VIP Tour ($52), which whisks guests for more than two hours around the 100-acre lot of Hollywood's oldest studio.
No two tours are the same here, because this is workingman's Hollywood.
You're seeing life on the lot as it plays out during the week without the aid of a theme park ride: through props departments, craft shops, sets of hit TV series and sound stages.
You love the American Museum of National History's great Fossil Halls, the Earth and space section covering the universe's 13-billion-year history and those fascinating human origins dioramas.
But you'd love it even more without all those other humans milling around.
Take it from Ben Stiller and Robin Willia ... er, Theodore Roosevelt -- New York's natural history museum is an entirely different place outside regular public hours.
While the American Museum of Natural History's VIP Tour ($500 for a group of up to five) can't guarantee you'll befriend Sacajawea or a T-Rex that fetches rib bones (that stuff only happens after sundown), the facility's premier private tour (9-10 a.m., before doors officially open) walks you through the place like it's your own.
Then, when all the regular guests arrive, you get pre-seating at the Space Show, IMAX viewing and access to special exhibits.
Tough to come up with a sequel as good as that.
Snagging any old seat to hear The Eagles crank out "Take It Easy" for the millionth time or watch Sting, LL Cool J, Ozzy Osbourne and Kiss strut on stage (no, not all together) means a call to TicketMaster.
Sitting front row at any of these upcoming summer concert tours, attending a pre-show party and doing a meet-and-greet photo op with some of these stars means a trip to VIP Nation.
The preferred concert seating company, specializing in premium VIP packages and rare access to your favorite musical artists, can probably help you get that special moment with Gene Simmons you've been waiting for all these years.
You can get the "private room" VIP treatment with great city views at any lofty restaurant worth its African salt-crusted sea bass.
But for the real gravity-defying haute dining experience you have to lose the walls, the floor and the windows and do Dinner in the Sky -- a singular multicourse dining adventure that seats you and your closest 21 VIP friends or business associates at a table suspended up to 18 stories high by a specialized crane and equipment.
Developed by Europe-based Events in the Sky, the U.S.-authorized experience can be set up in virtually any 100-foot by 50-foot space accessible by a large truck.
Still miss the Rainbow Room?
Can you believe it? The World Series is just two months away and the Super Bowl is in less than half a year!
Welcome to the sports doldrums of late August and early September.
Is there a classic American sporting event happening somewhere at this time worth dropping a bundle on to experience in the most pampered manner possible?