Journalist/publicist Lynette Carrington first contributed to this blog back in April with a piece called "Agent. Publicist. That’s the Same Thing. Right?". The article was very well received so, when she volunteered to write a second one, I of course jumped at the chance to run it.
Below you’ll read her thoughts on some of the byproducts of fame that all too often get overlooked by fans (admittedly like yours truly). There are sacrifices that need to be made in conjunction with all the popularity that comes along with being a successful show business figure – some of which can be a lot less pleasant than others.
On a lighter note, however (and as an added bonus), this time out Lynette told me that I could share this picture of her with one of my all-time favorite boxers, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield. It was taken by Joe Orr when Lynette interviewed Mr. Holyfield at the “Imagine 100 Faces” event for the Nick Lowery Youth Foundation.
Lynette, the floor is yours…
By: Lynette Carrington
“I would do anything to be famous!” “I would love be famous because then everyone would love me!” “I would have so much money if I were famous!” Sure, being famous has its perks. Think about it: lots of money, getting in to the hottest clubs, being on magazine covers, luxury cars, exotic film location shoots and rubbing elbows with A-Listers and world dignitaries on a regular basis. It all sounds glamorous, promising and exciting. But, there is a personal and emotional cost that comes with fame. And fame can be a slippery slope…or a downright monster.
Let’s consider some of the casualties in the world of entertainment--Chris Farley, River Phoenix, Amy Winehouse, Phil Hartman, Jim Belushi, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Anna Nicole Smith and most recently, “Glee” star Cory Monteith…the list is endless. Whether they met their demise at the hands of drugs, murder or an insane lifestyle, it is hardly arguable that in some shape or another, fame played a supporting role in their death.
Money is often a catalyst for some people to hop on the fame train (Kris Jenner, I’m talking to you), and money always sounds good. But, let’s take a look at why the bigger stars make outrageous sums of money that they do. Consider someone like Tom Cruise. Personally, I think he’s wackier than a box of frogs, but I have mad respect for him in that he has continually been a top box office draw for decades…not an easy feat. This is only one reason he makes the big bucks.
$25-$50 million dollar paydays. You think it’s crazy? No, it’s not. Tom Cruise puts millions of tooshes in the movie theater seats. Those tooshes are real money. That money has made hundreds if not thousands of people filthy rich. In essence, Cruise’s face and acting are a vehicle that make money not only for himself, but for an entire industry (and Scientology…but that’s another topic entirely). There is a lot of pressure for him to make a movie successful. It’s not just his career…it’s all those involved with what he does. Look at it another way, if Tom Cruise was attached to a movie and buzz started going, the hype and publicity machine would kick in to nearly guarantee the film would be at least a moderate success. There are thousands of people that will work on that film in some regard, not to mention the geographic location(s) where that film will shoot. They will all benefit from the very fact that it’s Tom Cruise. Would that same film have quite the same economic impact if it starred Rob Schneider? Not so much. (Okay, I don’t know of any film where Tom Cruise would be up for a role where Rob Schneider would be a contender, too. I’m only making a point…)
It really is a lot of pressure when you think about all the millions and millions of dollars at stake for the industry. And not just the big boys; it trickles all the way down to those who rely on the contract for craft services on that Tom Cruise film. In my opinion, A-List actors have to have a strong mind-set and a talented team of legal and management folk to help them with their professional decisions. It’s mind boggling when you think about it. The pressure to make a hit can be astounding and a flop movie can result in changes in artist management, representation, future film contracts and earnings, etc.
Next time Tom Cruise makes a dud and you think, “I could have acted that ten times better at 1/100th the cost!” I’m sure many actors could have. But there would have been no “toosh” factor. And it’s the toosh factor that really makes a difference most of the time.
Loss of Privacy:
Let’s take look at Harrison Ford. What do you think of when you see Harrison Ford? You probably think Han Solo or Indiana Jones. This is just a person whose job it is to say the words on a page and act onscreen. As a person, Ford often laments the loss of his privacy and talks about it in the media frequently. He’s been a recognized star since the 70’s, so he’s had a lot of time to adjust to his level of fame.
But, put yourself in his shoes (size 12, in case you needed to know). Everywhere you go, people stare at you and do double-takes. Are you having a bad hair day or are you in a bad mood? Not only will people stare, they’ll take photos without your permission. If you’re unlucky enough to get stuck with paparazzi, some of them will shout out mean and unfathomable things at you in order to illicit some kind of a negative response so they can catch it on camera and sell it for their own monetary gain. And this will be nearly everywhere you go. Every day. Every place. You will probably never get away from it. Oh, and you’re expected to behave yourself and be gracious in these situations no matter your mood or what is going on in your private (or not-so-private) life. Don’t screw it up…you’re every misstep will become fodder for the tabloids. Just be perfect, ok. Remember, this is every day. Some towns or cities may be better for celebrities than others. (I understand why celebs like Halle Berry want to get out of Hollywood and move to Europe.)
You want a night out at a restaurant with your family or significant other? See the above paragraph and then add into your evening the extra 30 minutes you’ll probably need for all the fans that will come over and want to chat or get a photo op. Some places are known for their discretion, which I think is fantastic. Other places have doormen, security or management who will tip paparazzi to your location so you get swarmed on your way out the door. You know who gets a cut when that photo sells to the tabloid? Yep, said doorman, security or management. Everyone is in the fame game. In essence, even peripheral people make money off of other’s celebrity status.
And while we’re on the subject of paparazzi (again, I’m talking to you Kris Jenner). We all see the photos. How is it paparazzi happen to be on the beach when LeAnn Rimes is showing off her latest swimsuit? Many celebs (or those hanging on to the bottom rung of the celeb ladder) will tip the papz to whatever they will be doing and the star is contracted to receive a cut of whatever those photos can be sold for to the tabs. No, really. It happens all the time. And the clothes the celeb is wearing in the photos? That designer may have possibly given that star those clothes for the express purpose of being worn in the supposed “candid” photos. A money-maker and publicity for a designer friend? You bet. So, indeed there is a pressure element that is present in your everyday life, too. Would you play at this level of the fame game? Many do. Again, Jenner/Kardashians…
When you’re out in public, total strangers come up and talk to you like they know you. Or they question you on some film you did 20 years ago. (Would you want to answer questions about a job you had 20 years ago at McDonald’s? I think you see what I’m getting at, here.) Worse yet, they ask you, “In Blade Runner, were you really a replicant?!?” Do you see how ridiculous this sounds when you’re just in Vons trying to pick up a gallon of milk and some bananas? You can never really leave work at work. It becomes part of who you are when you are in the public, because this is how the public knows you.
The loss of privacy is sad in today’s world because everything happens instantly and whenever there is a lawsuit, a squabble, a pending divorce or anything else, the entire world knows your business. Think about everything that has transpired during your own adult life and then try to imagine what that would have been like splashed on television and in the tabs with everyone talking about you and speculating. This is the price that one pays for being a celebrity nowadays and all the more reason that I feel that celebrities should get the paychecks they do. Nearly every portion of their life is violated. Publicized and/or scrutinized on a daily basis.
They Really Are Like the Rest of Us…No They’re Not:
Sure, they are like us. In fact, one of my favorite personal sayings is that, ‘Stars are just like the rest of us…except with more money and a lot more problems.’ They have to eat, they have families, they have to shop, they get tired, etc. What’s not like us is pretty much everything else. Granted, I’m talking about the upper echelon of entertainers who make a lot of money at what they do.
When you are a really big deal, everyone handles your personal and professional business so you can concentrate on your job. Managers, a legal team, accountants, wealth managers, various talent agents for each area of your expertise, publicists, personal assistants, a house staff, trainers, a driver, a chef, multiple personal stylists, several hair and make-up people and business consultants. Big celebs do not exist in the regular world of most of the 9-5 crowd and I’m certain that after time, you get used to having someone fly in your favorite salad dressing from Paris or getting front row tickets to the Lakers Game just because you pick up a phone. Is this being spoiled? I don’t think so. Actors and entertainers give up a lot of the areas of their life that we perhaps don’t think about. They’re entitled to enjoy their wealth since they’ve earned it. Some celebrities don’t choose to have huge staffs or an entourage of people, but if you were a busy celebrity and you could hire people to take care of things for you and that’s what you want, why shouldn’t you? However, when you can and do have a small army of people doing everything for you, you can see how you would really lose touch with the reality of most other people.
Getting back to the cost of fame, it does come at a very high price. Sure celebs are paid well, but they lose key aspects of privacy and the pressures to keep and control a decent public image (some of which you hardly have any control over) and the responsibilities that you have to your projects and others associated with you can be immense. Having a good head on your shoulders would be perhaps one of the most valuable things you could have before becoming famous. Next time you think that famous people have it all, consider the fishbowl world in which most of them live.
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