You know how people always say that celebrities seem smaller in person, and disappointingly normal? This does not apply to Heidi Klum (pictured, left). Or any other Victoria’s Secret model, for that matter. Set your self-esteem lasers to sad, lady readers, because they are, indeed, as lithe of limb, as sparkly of lip, and as shiny of hair as any teenage boy’s PG-13 dream. Also, they can be funny. On purpose. I learned all this and more on the Los Angeles set of How I Met Your Mother, as the cast and crew filmed their November 26 episode with several special guest stars. I also got my very own script (whee!), and director’s chair (with the makeup artist’s name on it! But still exciting!), from which to watch them tape the elaborate Victoria’s Secret fashion show after-party that caps the episode. But let’s allow star Neil Patrick Harris (pictured, center), who plays Barney, the show’s lovably psychotic lady’s man, fill you in on the plot:
“Last season,” he explains to EW, “we did a whole long riff on how everyone lost their virginity, and the understanding was that Barney would have lost his in an incredibly awesome way, with four chicks when he was, like, 12 or something. But it turns out it was actually with his mother’s 57-year-old, Menthol-smoking friend Rhonda, and he was 23.
“This was granola Barney,” he elaborates, “very young and wide-eyed and working in a coffee shop, and he worked with this girl and she dumped him. So his brother helps him get laid by Rhonda. Then it turns out that his brother told her to claim that he rocked her world, which kind of catapulted Barney into becoming the Lothario that he thinks he is. So when he finds out about his brother, it throws everything off-kilter at the most inopportune time-a Victoria’s Secret show.”
addCredit(“How I Met Your Mother: Cliff Lipson”)
Shameless ratings ploy? Probably, and a blatant networkcross-promotion as well (CBS will also air the real upcoming VS runwayshow Dec. 4), but—surprise!—the girls sail through multiple takes likepros, trying out different line variations and managing to somehow comeoff both sexy and demure in towering stilettos and tiny wisps ofdresses that wouldn’t cover a dinner plate, let alone a grown woman.Almost across the board, the girls don’t know much about the show. “Wetravel too much,” says Brazilian Alessandra Ambrosio, whipping back herlong, chocolatey mane. “It is only programs on airplanes, youknow?” And even Klum admits between takes that Dora the Explorer is pretty much the only thing (other than Project Runway, we presume) that gets regular play in her toddler-filled house. Still, they all throw themselves into it. VS Angel and Sports Illustrated swimsuitstar Marisa Miller, admits, “It’s so cool just to watch and learn howthey do it, and to get a chance to go beyond still pictures andactually be speaking lines. I’m going to make my whole family watchthis, for sure.”
The (mostly) first-time actresses should be proud, says Harris. “Iwas pleasantly surprised. Some of them had never spoken a scripted linebefore. I expected they would come in robotic, but they seemed to beenjoying themselves. Heidi was great—boy, she ad-libbed all over theplace. She convinces me to go back and confront Rhonda, in order toreclaim my mojo.” Indeed, Klum, in a torrent of inscrutable German,makes the onlookers (there is no studio audience on HIMYM) andparty extras laugh into their prop cocktails take after take. Barney,of course, having lost all his game, merely manages to make aspectacular fool of himself (boobie jokes galore) in front of thegirls, until Heidi takes pity on him and guides him back to safety, asort of Supermodel Yoda.
Also along for the ride? Buddies Ted (Josh Radnor, pictured, right) and Marshall(Jason Segel)—there mostly to unsuccessfully run interference onBarney’s spectacular flame-out with model after model. “It’s not theworst job in the world,” Segel says with a smile, “Working with thesewomen.” Indeed, with the show’s female regulars off-set for the day, hesnack-cheats on TV wife Lily (Alyson Hannigan), sneaking off withAussie model Miranda Kerr to craft services to grab some onion dip anddelicious little crispy potato chips. “It makes your breath kind offunky,” Kerr confides, “but it’s so good!” Fortunately (or maybe not somuch for the male cast members), there are no kissing scenes in thisweek’s script—and fortunately for me, they leave me some dip. Twothumbs up, CBS catering!
At the end of the day, the models begin to droop (they’re basicallydoing what the other actors have done all day, but in five-inch heelsand with constant hair and makeup touch-ups), and the party extras talkquietly amongst themselves. Klum, still flawless in a sparkly metallicsheath, playfully demands that Segel bring her something sweet from thesnack bar, now juggling cell phone calls and interviews by variousvisiting entertainment programs on the show’s bar set, while Ambrosiorushes off to catch a 6 p.m. flight, and Harris types intently into hislaptop at a desk on the living room set. “I have to say,” he grins, “itwas incredibly bizarre and sad to have to be that much of a tool infront of the most gorgeous women in the world all day long. But we havea pretty good group here, don’t you think?”