A star for Bay to Breakers 

Victoria Recaño is thrilled to be grand marshal of the 2007 ING Bay to Breakers race.

"It’s a great celebration. It’s for a cause," says the bubbly TV reporter, best known for interviewing Hollywood A-listers on "The Insider" and "Entertainment Tonight."

The West Los Angeles resident, who grew up in St. Louis and spent some five years in the Bay Area working for TechTV and KNTV, admits that, up till now, she only has been a bystander to San Francisco’s biggest party, which is May 20 this year.

But she’s no stranger to the event or The City. She and her husband, Tom Burwell, come here often, not only to visit her sister in Redwood City, but to take advantage of San Francisco’s fine dining establishments. She counts La Folie and Boulevard among her favorites.

"We have to go Boulangerie at Pine!" she exclaimsto the Bay to Breakers publicist who recently accompanied her on her publicity rounds.

Ever friendly, Recaño is happy to talk about some of the stars she’s met on the job. But don’t ask her to dish; she’s got mostly nice things to report:

» Reese Witherspoon: "Smart," "just like your girfriend"

» Ben Affleck: "Cute and sweet"

» Kelly Preston: "Really, really cool."

» Hilary Swank: "Down to earth"

» Justin Timberlake: "Easy to talk to"

» Brad Pitt: "Like the characters he plays"

» Jennifer Aniston: "Much prettier in person"

» Lindsay Lohan: "Nice girl"

During Oscar season a few months ago, Recaño says she saw Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett so much, she was waving "hi" at them.

On occasion, she says, Mark Wahlberg waves to her at church, with a "how do I know you?" glint in his eye. "Maybe he watches ‘The Insider’ or ‘Entertainment Tonight,’" Recaño laughs.

Two people she’d like to interview include Hugh Jackman ("My mother is in love with him") and Michael Jackson ("I’d like to try and understand what’s going on with him").

Only in her late 20s, Recaño began working in TV at age 15. In part, she attributes her success to being outgoing ("I’ll talk to a wall," she says) and "super-direct."

She tries not to have any preconceived notions going into a story, and she does her homework. She’ll get a little nervous when she thinks she may not have enough time to finish up the job. She hasn’t flubbed much, except once in an interview with Robin Williams when she mixed up the animated character he played with a female character in the movie. He was funny when he teased her about it.

Mostly, Recaño is comfortable working hard, quickly and often on only a few hours’ sleep.

Other than being "really scared" in a race car with Dale Earnhardt Jr. or having to deal with Harrison Ford being tight-lipped, Recaño seems to know the value of her "fun job."

Still, she’s looking forward to a summer vacation in France, and, of course, her high-profile Bay to Breakers duties.

As breezily as she graces the red carpet, her last words for Bay Area readers: "Register" now for the big race.

ING Bay to Breakers

Where: Race begins at Howard and Main streets, San Francisco

When: 8 a.m. May 20; Footstock Festival follows race in Golden Gate Park Polo Fields

Registration: $44 general, $39 children through May 17; late registration May 18-19 costs $49 general and $45 for children under 18

Contact: (415) 359-2800 or www.ingbaytobreakers.com

Note: The free ING Greater Body Expo is May 18 and 19 at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove St., San Francisco

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Leslie Katz

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