“You don’t know the history of psychiatry,” Tom Cruise famously told Matt Lauer.“I do.”
“I want to be the face of depression,” Delta Burke once said.
“This is the new AIDS anthem,” Liza Minnelli proclaimed before singing a song no one ever heard again.
“… I’m gonna let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best music videos of all time,” declared Kanye West as he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at this year’s VMAs.
“When I say I’m ready to go wild, I’m gonna go wild,” warned Snooki from MTV’s Peabody Award-worthy series Jersey Shore.
It’s almost expected for celebrities to have delusions of grandeur, not to mention a hunger to be in the spotlight, but now it’s the average Jersey girl (as well as plenty of people from other states) who seem to have an unquenchable thirst for fame.We can thank the morning news shows and the evening reality shows that create stars out of talentless nobodies, obnoxious wannabes and corrupt politicians.
Sometimes the media gets attacked undeservedly.Lately however, full blame goes directly and unequivocally to the producers of talk shows, news shows, and reality programs.If they had refused to invite ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (the guy who intended to sell President Obama’s vacant Senate seat) to appear on their shows, he wouldn’t have become a media sensation.The press gave this perfectly coiffed clown a platform.Sure, we laughed at him as he lied through his snow-white teeth, proclaiming his innocence despite the entire world having heard his voice on taped phone calls that proved his guilt.But this man continued to appear on one TV show after another. He was intending to travel to the jungle of Costa Rica for NBC’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, but because of the corruption charges brought against him (conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and solicitation of bribery), an Illinois judge banned him from leaving the country.So NBC settled for the next best thing, his wife Patti.(Why wasn’t the show’s title changed to I’m Married To A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here?) Blagojevich is an example of celebrity at its embarrassing worst.If the media had ignored him, he wouldn’t continue to be in our faces; he certainly wouldn’t be well-known enough to appear on The Celebrity Apprentice.
The problem is that television is a 24-hour business and the monster must be fed, so producers and talent bookers are constantly searching for guests and so-called experts who can speak articulately and look somewhat presentable.Journalists and bloggers have been popular guests on CNN and MSNBC, but now you don’t even need to be currently employed.Now even former magazine editors (like Janice Min, former editor of US Weekly) are credentialed enough to be invited to chat about the latest celebrity scandal.Pat O’Brien, the former host of TV’s The Insider (who was disgraced in a sleazy scandal of his own) still makes appearances on various shows to comment on tawdry celebrity scandals.It’s like a bad dream that won’t end.
The job of the celebrity publicist has always been to act as a liaison between the star and the rest of the world (including but not limited to hand-holding on the red carpet, dictating magazine covers and devising a good spin when the client makes a moronic mistake and gets caught).It was a decidedly behind-the-scenes position.But lately, publicists have become talk show guests, offering their expert opinion on the celebrity scandal du jour.Did Tiger Woods handle his tawdry situation the best possible way?Not according to seasoned publicist Cindy Berger whose lethargic manner of speech almost led the audience of The View into a deep slumber.
When Sarah Palin appeared on Saturday Night Live and casually mentioned that her favorite Baldwin brother was Stephen, Stephen Baldwin was suddenly a guest on the talk show circuit.We don’t know if he really was Palin’s favorite; after all, his name was mentioned as part of a comedy bit that co-starred his brother Alec. But even if he was the chosen Baldwin, did we really need to hear from him?Did Larry King need to invite him on CNN to shove his political views down our throats?
Which brings us to Levi Johnston.Note to talk show hosts:If you relentlessly make fun of somebody, you cannot turn around and invite the butt of your joke on your program and pretend to have the slightest bit of respect for him.
When Arnold Klein, the Beverly Hills dermatologist who used to treat Michael Jackson, appeared on Larry King Live for the entire hour, it was obvious that television had sunk to an astonishing new low.This charisma-challenged doctor dodged questions and had absolutely nothing of substance to contribute to the conversation.TV’s previous low had been set when Zsa Zsa Gabor’s eighth husband, “Prince” Frederic von Anhalt, was invited on talk shows to discuss the ridiculous claim that he was the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby.This is the same man who claimed he was mugged by three women who left him naked behind the wheel of his Rolls Royce, and the same man who officially entered the race for governor of California.The term publicity whore seems to have been invented for him and him alone.
Basically, the goal is the same whether you’re an A-list actor or an A-hole dermatologist:Attention.An appearance on television is either food for a needy ego or an attempt to sell something.Remember the Colorado man who claimed his six-year-old son was hurtling through the sky in a homemade helium balloon?This joker was hoping to garner attention for his own reality show.(He and his wife had previously appeared on Wife Swap.)
The situation wouldn’t be as disturbing if nobody was being affected by the media’s fascination with faux celebrities.But Lauren Conrad (The Hills) and NeNe Leakes (Real Housewives of Atlanta) are just two of the media darlings who’ve received lucrative book deals, making it difficult for legitimate authors to get published.The all-important question that’s asked to potential authors is: “What’s your marketing plan?”It’s no longer the responsibility of a publishing company’s marketing division to get the word out about a great new book.These days it’s up to the author to create buzz, drive sales, and finagle himself (or herself) onto a couple of national television shows.Most agents and editors would agree that if Saul Bellow or William Faulkner or William Styron were young authors starting out today, they’d have less chance getting published than those literary giants Pamela Anderson (Star: A Novel), Tori Spelling (sTORI Telling), and Rosie O’Donnell (Celebrity Detox).
One final question that lingers in the minds of millions:Aren’t Kate Gosselin’s fifteen minutes of fame over yet?Why do we still see her face on magazine covers?Why was she considered enough of a star to be asked to appear on Dancing With The Stars?Does this woman do anything to warrant the air time and print space she’s received? Not to my knowledge.Can somebody please tell her to stay home and take care of her eight young children?