Celebri-spiral™: Enough Already

Our culture is in a celebri-spiral. We're conflicted over our ridiculous, growing celebrity culture consumption via magazines, websites, and TV shows. In 2007, my love/hate conflict made me take to the blog-o-sphere. All writing on this site © Dave Singleton 2009.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

January 31, 2007: Dying to Project Our Fantasies Onto a New "It Girl." Sienna, Is That You?

I'm excited about Factory Girl, the new film about Andy Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick, the more creative and less obnoxious Paris Hilton of her time. Edie Sedgwick lived fast and burned out before thirty. Can we hope the same for Paris? Not that I want to see Ms. Hilton dead, I just want her PR killed. I want a Paris-free trip past the tabloids for a few weeks.

Forgetting Paris for a moment (or day, or week, or forever), is life imitating art with the arrival on the scene of Factory Girl star Sienna Miller? She's been everywhere this week: every talk show, party, and newspaper. She has "it girl" potential for sure, but she's nobody's muse. At least not yet. Someone stylish and smart like Tom Ford really needs to grab hold of her before that happens.

Our friend Cindy has the coverage of the Factory Girl premiere, with some tidbits about Sienna:

The Weinstein Company's "Factory Girl" is a movie about the fast-paced, druggy wild world of Andy Warhol. Sienna Miller plays Warhol's muse Edie Sedgwick. Edie was a beautiful blonde. Sienna is a beautiful blonde. Edie lived on top of the world and was a media darling. Sienna's face and body and clothes and comments and lifestyle and lovers glut every newspaper and magazine. Edie did all-night glam parties. Just yesterday, Page Six had a story about Sienna partying around the clock until, supposedly, Diddy left her at, supposedly, 9 a.m. Edie then fell into her own hell. So . . . can this ever happen to Sienna?

And The New York Post has the latest on her wild, wicked, partying ways with P. Diddy, no less. She's bringing back memories of 60's bohemia and 70's Studio 54 decadence. Thanks, Sienna, for allowing a danger-hungry populace to project our fantasies onto you. But one warning: read about how Diddy's last famous muse, Jennifer Lopez, ended up in the pokey for a night after a post club shootout. That will make for some cautionary tale reading that, hopefully, will not shackle a new It Girl's buzz.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

January 30, 2007: American Idol Auditions Continue

I can't believe that, after three years of sobriety, I relapsed into American Idol addiction last week. I didn't mean to. I landed on the Idol by accident.

Last week, I was:

Home alone (bad idea #1: Watching TV solo is as dangerous as drinking alone for some of us)

Channel surfing (bad idea #2: If your tendency is to get sucked in quickly, like a crack addict with $20 in your pocket, strolling by a lineup of pushers, put the remote down)

Feeling out of sorts (bad idea #3: my father died a few weeks ago, my stepmother has made Dynasty's Alexis Carrington Colby look like a nun, and the east coast January blahs are definitely afoot)

The producers of that show (and reality TV producers in general) deserve a special place in hell for their wicked, luring ways.

One minute you're agog watching Brooklynite Ian Bernardo (pictured) sing like Horschack's retarded, fame-hungry child from Welcome Back Kotter. That was a spectacular televised preview of full-blown, delusional schizophrenia.

The next you are tearing up at the Idol's own Little Miss Sunshine, an underdog named Sarah Burgess, 17, from some podunk town called East Palestine, Ohio (really, could you make that up?). She's never been a bad girl, but she told her strict daddy, who loves her and vice versa - however, it's Quel Tragique! He doesn't support her singing dreams - that she was slumber-partying with a friend. In fact, she hopped a bus all by herself to New York City. Turns out she has a great voice (acapella, she sang Call Me by Blondie; a brave, adult choice. The girl has cojones).

She is the American Idol package; talented, attractive, sweet and, key, she has a story that American Idol can work! The judges gave her a thumbs up, she broke down in tears, and Ryan Seacrest wasted no time in calling her Daddy on his cell, to tell him that his little girl was headed to Hollywood. She was terrified that Daddy would be mad. But in a great "Dad" moment, he softened and told her that he just wanted her to get home safe. Stuff like this kills me. Talk about a celebri-spiral!

I think Sarah and Dad are going to be OK, and maybe they'll understand each other a little better. And you just know Dad's proud of his little girl and her gutsy dream. Damn that show. I hope I can avoid it tonight.

Monday, January 29, 2007

January 29, 2007: Celebrehab Update

It's just another manic Monday in the celeb-scape. Start of the week is a perfect time for a celeb recap, don't you think? That's why I am giving two sound bytes and a trip down a faded red carpet to Scott Lamb for his Salon article Welcome to Celebrehab, which recounts the latest gaggle of wayward stars, their sins, apologies, treatment, and potential next steps.

My favorite is the blurb on James Frey, "memoirist" and one-time Oprah book-club darling, who was banished from the kingdom (and Oprah's couch) after his lies were exposed. This one touches a nerve with me more than the rest. It's one thing to make clear that your memoir might include fabricated or exaggerated tales. It's another to state explicitly that every word is gospel, which is what Frey did, and why Oprah and many readers invested themselves in him, not just his story, and were so upset. Scott's update on James and his million little lies:

Sin: Fictionalizing huge swaths of "A Million Little Pieces," his bestselling memoir of addiction -- and then, even after the Smoking Gun had exposed him, going on Larry King Live to maintain his lies.
Apology: In a squirm-inducing "Oprah" appearance, Frey spun his misdeeds this way: "I think part of what happened with a number of things in the book is when you go through an experience like the one I went through, you develop different coping mechanisms, and I think one of the coping mechanisms I developed was sort of this image of myself that was probably greater than -- not probably, it was greater than I actually was." He later expanded that theme into a 900-plus-word letter of apology to his readers, which will now appear in every newly published copy of "AMLP."
Treatment: Can't go back for more "treatment" -- no one hates full-of-shit addicts like legitimate addicts!
Result: According to the terms of a lawsuit settlement reached with 12 angry readers, Frey and his publisher, Random House, agreed to pay $2.35 million -- to "cover the cost of refunding customers, the lawyers' fees for both sides and a yet-to-be-specified donation to charity." Non-litigious readers are also eligible for a refund: Send Page 163 of the hardcover to Random House and you'll get a check for $23.95; send the front cover of the paperback and you'll receive $14.95.

So if you are still angry about being duped (and it might be time to move on) learn from Jossip how to claim your Frey refund from Random House.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

January 28, 2007: Jennifer Aniston's Nose Job-US Goes in for the Kill

Out of all the celebrity news this weekend-and there's plenty, including Cameron Diaz "losing it" (TV reporters are such drama queens) at Justin Timberlake and alleged new love interest Jessica Biel, one story stands out. It's pronounced. It's big. It's...it's...it's...Jennifer Aniston's nose.

I always thought she had a cute nose, but now she's joined the ranks of Cameron Diaz (again!) and Ashlee Simpson with new hollywood honkers. What makes the story smell so good to me is the fact that US magazine is covering it like a CNN breaking murder. Minute-by-minute updates. Reporters and photographers camped out on the scene. Web coverage that includes not only a couple of grainy pictures of Jennifer covering her face but also a probably-manufactured war with her plastic surgeon and blog commentary from, at last count, 383 people who feel compelled (I am one to talk) to offer their fast and furious scribbles about it.

Visit US for the scoop and be alternatingly entertained and appalled by the passion people pour into this poor woman's nose.

Unlike most of US's stories, which focus on celebrities du jour without too much seemingly-personal vengeance, the Aniston "exclusive," in which her doctor rats her out, appears after almost two years of her rep Steven Huvane countering claims by US that she was, in order, about to divorce, get engaged, and break up. US then called Huvane a known liar who repeatedly issued false information.

Huvane countered by providing Jennifer exclusives to rival magazine People, flat out denying US's reports. You can't help but feel that US has it in for her, and for him. This is a true tabloid war, circa 2007; it's editor against PR rep.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

January 27, 2007:David Gregory's Mini Celebri-spiral on The Today Show

What can cause a hardened and serious White House news reporter like David Gregory to have a celebri-spiral? I think I know the answer. Put him on The Today Show for a week as Matt Lauer's sub anchor, then expose him to some of the greatest media moment inanities known to mankind.

These include:

- Script copy with awkward and funny attempts at segueing from Iraq death count to celebrity breakups ("100 people died in Baghdad today. On a lighter note, Nicole Richie wears Michael Kors for spring!");
- Chit chat outside with those celeb-obsessed enough to weather the 20-degree temperature;
- Church giggles over the silliest things, like Meredith Vierra comparing footage of a shark swimming in the ocean with hungry mouth open (after a news story about a man who who survived an near fatal attack) to her appearance without makeup.

But the real trigger of David's celebri-spiral had to be the intro of uber-grotesque model and reality TV star Janice Dickinson. Thank God You Tube catches these moments. The plastic-surgery addicted, fame-hungry fashion toothpick (PSAFHFT for short) was on to discuss her groundbreakingly tacky (a vied-for title) Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency TV show on NBC's sister channel, Bravo.

I'd lose it, too. We all would. David traverses the continuum from fighting for reporters' access to the truth hidden behind an adminstration shrouded in secrecy (who can forget his passionate 2006 stand against White House Press Shill Scott McClellan?) to trumpeting a few bottom-of-the-barrel celebutainment features.

I don't blame a smart and funny guy like David. It's what he's asked to do, which is just a sign of the times. What's fit to print, and report on, has definitely changed. Can you see Walter Cronkite interviewing Janice Dickinson?

Friday, January 26, 2007

January 26, 2007: Celebrity Envy Causes "Affluenza"

My friend Suzanne sent me and our group of celebrity-hound friends a link to this story: Affluenza: Rampant Consumerism Erodes Us.

She added, "I definitely have this affliction. Which one of you gave it to me?????"

I can't single any one of our email group out. Since none of us gave her what some will call "afflu," but I think of as "envy flu," who did? Celebrity TV shows and magazines like Vogue, In Style, W, and US probably were the original culprits. But our group didn't help. We're carriers. The truth is that lots of us have, if not full blown "afflu," then at least an ongoing low-grade version that we carry around.

To learn more, I read the timely article that begins, "Beware the Affluenza Virus. An epidemic of mindless consumerism is sweeping the world with the compulsive pursuit of money and possessions making people richer but sadder. That is the stark warning issued by best-selling British psychologist Oliver James after a 'mind tour' of seven countries chronicling how depression envelopes the affluent." He didn't coin the term. There are lots of resources about it, including sites like this. But his is the latest examination of it.

'We have become addicted to having rather than being and confusing our needs with our wants,' James told Reuters in an interview.

I particularly liked James' few celebrity references in the study, including that "interviewing the affluent in Sydney was a depressing job," calling it "the Dolly Parton of cities in Australia, the most vacuous."

But the study stops short of asking the question "why?" What's causing this outbreak that so many of us sense? Honestly, how much of this is linked to celebrity envy-wanting what they have, wear, and do?

Reading celebrity magazines and seeing the clothes, homes, and style of celebrities du jour makes us want. Watching "The Fabulous Life Of..." and wondering why VH1 isn't producing a one-hour special on our lives makes us long. Thinking about other people's material possessions makes us sick. As the study shows, giving into the envy impulses doesn't satisfy. Spending it like Beckham makes us anxious.

The study doesn't address the reasons why, which I think is a big oversight. OK, there's affluenza. No argument. But why is it on the rise? The answer to that question will lead to the cure. Too bad there's no "afflu" shot in the near future.

Do you have affluenza? If so, what's your fever for?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

January 25, 2007: Finally, We Close an Ugly Chapter in The Book of Celebrity TMI

Think of Liza Minnelli and you want to conjur images of Cabaret, New York, New York, and old-style showbiz. You do not want to think of world-class gross PDA, herpes-spreading, Grey Goose bottles used as spousal weapons, or sexual harrassment of the chaffeur, from both parties I might add.

The Liza-David divorce war is over today. Life is a Cabaret again. In granting the decision, the judge should impose groundbreaking new contingency fines for subjecting the public to further celebrity TMI. But that means no more headlines like this one. Sounds like a fair deal to me.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

January 24, 2007: The State of the Union on Dumbf*ck Mountain is...Good? Or Just Celebrated?

2007's state of the union speech from George of the Iraq Jungle was a lesson in charm over substance, pandering over protest, and, ultimately, celebrity trumping everything.

How could the man with the lowest presidential approval rating since Watergate-era Nixon have received such a welcome response from both sides? The optimist in me hopes it's a move toward progressive bipartisanship. The cynic thinks that Telegenic George ratcheted up the "aw shucks" charm from his first campaign, and kissed the ring and ass of Madame Speaker just about as ferociously as one could do without getting a motel room.

Will people buy it? If you just read the speech and didn't watch him deliver it, would you feel differently about its content? If George's brilliant speechwriter didn't invoke "supporting the troops," which of course everyone wants to do, and which, by the way, results in a mandatory "standing O" on the house floor everytime it's mentioned, would you be able to separate supporting the troops from creating a sound Iraq exit strategy? A "set a deadline now" strategy is what every soundbyte-worthy Republican and Democrat, aside from Dick Cheney and Condi Rice, is suggesting.

Though I find W. almost unwatchable, I tuned in to hear him, and to view the other politicos play to the cameras, as TV time during state of the union is prime. As I watched, I wondered why I have such a visceral dislike for a man I have never met. Yes, I find his policies objectionable. But my dislike for Bush and Cheney grows as their lame duck status begins. The same is true for Hillary-haters whose bile increased when she said "I'm in to win." Hate is a costly emotion. Why waste it on anyone, let alone a celebrity?

Some blogs today, notably CNN's, included comments from people who focused on either liking or disliking W. I know I am one to talk, but our like, or disike, isn't the issue.

What was the speech really? A few platitudes about finally paying attention to dire domestic issues like the environment and education standards, a very late plea to curb our reliance on foreign oil, and a too-little, too-late grandstanding for a balanced budget. What's really on the legislative docket? What are the results, and when can we expect them? Those are tangible. Yet all we can talk about is whether he came off well?

Yes, he came off well. And Nancy Pelosi looked fabulous. And Hillary looks like she's lost weight and maybe had some work done (subtle, but good). And isn't Barack Obama handsome? And Laura Bush is adoring (we love that because we project onto her how much we'd all like an adoring spouse, too). And the special invited guests in the chamber are all heroic (they are.) But that isn't the point. Like the celebrity culture we are in, we focus too much on personalities and image, not issues.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

January 23, 2007: Analyzing the Oscars Without My Personal Bias

Yeah, right. That's impossible. At least for me. It's a popularity contest that favors movies that make everyone cry. The actors who get nominated are chosen through a filter of:

*Celebrity status, PR, and legend
*Makeups from previous films, years and life events
*An odd, magical advertising formula of sucking up enough, yet not too much

Then the celebrity-conscious like me spend way too much time filtering the nominations through our overly personal lens. For your consideration, here's my take:

- "And I am telling you, you're not getting nominated, you are the best picture of the year, but there's no way we'll see you here..." Dreamgirls is now the Effie of Best Picture snubs. It deserved it, but it will not be forced down the academy's throat, even if it is a remarkable achievement and a powerful tale of African Americans in the music industry. Of course, Walk the Line missed the Best Picture nod, too, but that didn't feel like a slap at country folk, did it? But it's hard not to feel a backlash against out director Bill Condon (too gay?).

- The documentary category is the most celeb-referencing in years. Al Gore? Dixie Chicks? Forget about the films themselves, which are both excellent. It's all about the voters' perception of Al and the Chicks. Of course, Al will get it.

- Everyone loves The Queen despite the fact that, as Helen Mirren said, it's a "very small film." We love it because we love and miss Princess Diana. Best Picture is the We Love Diana nod. Helen is awesome, but Best Actress is the cumulative nod to her career.

- Penelope Cruz deserves an award for doing whatever she did for Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey, then getting the hell away from both of them.

- Brad Pitt, ask Peter O'Toole how it feels to be in really good films, occasionally get nominated, more often get snubbed, and not get taken that seriously by voters.

-Alan Arkin is the best supporting actor. The old man always wins this category, especially if he (spoiler alert) dies and the other characters are actually bummed out about it.

- Peter O'Toole, ask Brad Pitt what it's like to shun hedonism and the high life in favor of the purpose driven life. And give someone the secret of how you (admittedly) drank and partied so much and yet are still here. The academy loves survivors. If you win, share Oscar with the ghosts of fellow underrated booze-loving thespians, Richard Burton and Bill Holden.

-Little Children was brilliant but, of course, it's about a sicko suburban community, told without the dark humor of award winning American Beauty. So it got overlooked as a film though, at least, Kate Winslet and Jackie Earle Haley got nods. Jackie, you've come a long way since playing Kelly Leak in The Bad News Bears 30 years ago. Attn: Haley Joel Osment-now that seeing dead people and your sixth sense have run their course, play your cards right and you can bring to life a pedophile equally as compelling as Jackie's in, say, 2035.

Monday, January 22, 2007

January 22, 2007: Downmarket Celebrity Rehab

Wondering how rehab might differ for an Elizabeth Taylor or a Lindsay Lohan vs. your typical junkie on the street?

Read Lush Life: How Stars Make a Mockery of Rehab by Maureen Callahan. It's like Private Benjamin goes to detox. Ummm, I didn't sign up for this "cleaning-toilets-sleeping-on-bunk-beds-like-prison-and-forced-therapy" rehab, I signed up for the one with the condos on the beach and the room service.

"...Celebrities - with their narcissism, high levels of creativity and standard of living - require not only a paradigmatic shift in living quarters but in treatment itself. She maintains that programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Betty Ford (where patients are assigned roommates in Spartan rooms and attend group therapy) are, in a word, downmarket.

'For the addict in the street who has nothing, that works beautifully - because they have nothing, period,' Kunzli says. 'Our approach is for the very successful person - what I call 'the power elite.'

Bill White, considered by many in the field to be the among the country's foremost addiction specialists, finds this philosophy to be 'a gross misrepresentation.' He pauses. 'Show me one piece of scientific data that supports that statement. There isn't any.'

In fact, according to White, such centers are not new, and Kunzli is hardly the visionary she claims to be: 'There has always been a market for high-end treatment, going back to the 1800s,' he says, pointing to the Keeley Institute, which had more than 120 facilities throughout the U.S. and Europe.

White adds that such facilities were highly controversial, administering mysterious medications and dubious cures - one of which, the double bichloride of gold cure, was reported to have killed some patients and driven others insane. 'They were also accused of aggressive marketing tactics and financial misconduct,' he adds.

Is there any way to get some of that "bichloride of gold cure" to Paris Hilton now? Maybe we can drive her insane before she continues her one-woman crusade to act out and annoy.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

January 21, 2007: Conflicted Celebrity Worship

You've gotta love the provocative quotes about celebrity disovered and offered up by the apparently conflicted celebrity hound Liz Smith, like the one she uncorked today: "Celebrity worship is a reflection of moral and aesthetic relativism and the insecurity many feel about their social status in a highly competitive society . . . There is a growing uncertainty in American society as to what does or doesn't deserve respect and admiration," writes Paul Hollander, sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts.In other words, do we buy fame for fame's sake, no critical analysis involved?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

January 20, 2007: Celebrity Hillary Announces: Will Her Celebrity Help or Hurt?

Today, Senator Clinton on Hillary's official exploratory committee site announced she's running for president. No surprise, but I just wonder if her celebrity overshadows her chances.

Do we think that we know too much about her? In our minds, is she the betrayed wife (or did she really know?), the dedicated senator (or scheming political operative), and the woman who comes off overly wary in the media (when I am amazed after what's been written and said, she comes off well at all). It's hard to imagine having so much about your personal life exposed, and still wanting to beat the drum and face the music, the cacophony of prying media and scandal-hungry population.

But maybe Hillary knows there are two options only: retreat from the spotlight glare or full steam ahead on what she wants to accomplish and, by doing so, use the attention for her purposes, instead of the other way around. The truth is that most of us have no idea of who she really is. Yet our perception of who she is seems to matter so much more in today's culture than her policies and legislative record. It's going to be fascinating to see how Hillary's celebrity works for and against her during the campaign.

Friday, January 19, 2007

January 19, 2007: Too Lazy to Read Tabloid Crap in the Grocery Store Checkout? Read This

Thanks to The New York Daily News weekly coverage of crappy tabloid headlines for this craptabulous update. Now we know that Britney coverage of rumored "knock up" and new K-Fed look-a-like boyfriend beats coverage of Brangelina, Jennifer's supposed boob job, Simon Cowell calling himself an asshole, and Paris Hilton telling another desperate reporter looking for any ink and angle that she's "serious about acting."

Now maybe I can get through the grocery checkout line with my eyes averted and dignity intact. But probably not.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

January 18, 2007: Defamer's Got the Best Lindsay Rehab Coverage

Seriously, Lindsay Lohan's entry into Wonderland Center, the fluffiest sounding Rehab I've ever heard of, is being treated like a major political event, as if it has resonance, overtones and implications. As if it's truly newsworthy.

Defamer's coverage is unbelievable.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

January 17, 2007: Isaiah Washington is a Homophobic Idiot

Today, gay rights group GLAAD demanded an apology from Isaiah Washington after he made homophobic slurs. Publicity can backfire. He is today's "Exhibit A," demonstrating that we can learn too much about a celebrity that makes us not want to watch, buy, or participate in their so-called art.

Isaiah Washington now joins Michael "Kramer" Richards and Mel "Sugar Tits" Gibson in the Hollywood idiots hall of fame.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

January 16, 2007: The Golden Globes-My 10 Favorite Celebrity Moments

My favorite offbeat moments at the Golden Globes this year?

10. Raccoon eyed Rosanna & Patricia Arquette bobbing and weaving with loads of 'tude and swagger on the red carpet as if one thought she was still hot and the other lost her bottle of Oxycontin.

9. That awkward look Kevin Bacon gave when Kyra Sedgwick went on too long for her Best Actress win. Love, yes. But awkward love. Haven't we ALL wished our S.O. would STFU. Let's be real, people.

8. Jennifer Hudson's fakey "All About Eve" acceptance speech as Beyonce "Bette Davis" Channing-Knowles looks on knowingly. Cmon' girl. After your raves, it's time to offer up the Shirley Maclaine "I knew I was going to win. I deserve this" Terms of Endearment speech.

7. Angie's attitude-laden red carpet crawl. What was she thinking as she shot eyeball darts at various media outlets? Especially painful: the silent Ryan Seacrest interview.

6. Justin crouching down in an attempt to emulate Prince's 5'2" petite frame as he accepted for the very late Prince, adding, "I'd like to accept this award on his behalf." Justin is a funny beeyotch-a-bitch.

5. Joan asking Little Miss Sunshine star Abigail Breslin what her beauty regime is. Abigail's response was, "What?" Abigail is 10.

4. Meryl's brilliant acceptance speech especially, "Oh shut up. It's not that long," when a heckler laughed at her pulling her written notes out.

3. The overhwhelming positive response to America Ferrara and Ugly Betty. Everyone was truly rooting for her, and she came off as genuine.

2. Annette Bening kicking back champagne and laughing nervously when Tom Hanks asked for a show of hands of women Warren Beatty slept with...it's always fun to be reminded that your husband, while older and dottier than ever, was once a manwhore.

1. Borat, and the anus/testicles thank you speech.

Monday, January 15, 2007

January 15, 2007: Is Celebrity The Language of Today?

The tale of the small bookseller being replaced by the mega-giant isn't new. It inspired the movie You've Got Mail, and lots of ink from the old and cranky. But I liked A Princeton Maverick Succumbs to a Cultural Shift. "

Logan Fox can't quite pinpoint the moment when movies and television shows replaced books as the cultural topics people liked to talk about over dinner, at cocktail parties, at work. He does know that at Micawber Books, his 26-year-old independent bookstore here that is to close for good in March, his own employees prefer to come in every morning and gossip about "Survivor" or "that fashion reality show" whose title he can't quite place. "It's not about megastores replacing books. It's about celebrity replacing creativity, and people's attention focused on media idiots. The article makes me sad.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

January 14, 2007: Rupert Everett and Recollections of BIRG

"Getting locked inside a celebrity stronghold, an ivory tower, is the death of creativity, and the unhappy lot of the rich and famous. They lose themselves in the quest for security," writes Rupert Everett in his new memoir, "Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins."

His BIRG (basking in reflected glory) approach to fame and brushing up against celebrity at various points in his life is colorful: "At 17, I had sat with David Bowie downstairs at the Embassy Club and been lectured on the mystical potential hidden in the number seven. At 18, I had dined at La Coupole in Paris with Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger. I had sniffed poppers with Hardy Amies on the dance floor of Munkberrys. I had done blow with Steve Rubell and Halston at Studio 54. I was spoilt for excitement and I knew what it was to be drunk on fame by association, how it felt to be a part of 'the gang,' the cluster of small gems around the large canary diamond, the obligatory whirlwind dancing dangerously about the eye of the storm. It was intoxicating to be around stars ... you were a part of the queen bee's hive. ... Nights under the stars were feeding frenzies of self-interest."

I've had those same BIRG feelings he describes at a few heady parties. Somewhere out there in photoland, there are some snaps of me, Liza Minnelli and Elizabeth Taylor when I was 16, at a party talking about how obnoxious the paparazzi were as we posed. It's cute at 16. It'd be bizarre now.

Rupert Everett is the best. The thing that's great about Brit actors is that they don't try to be such noble people all the time. He's flawed and revels in it, and loves to bash celebrity while at the same time partaking. I think he's right about how getting wrapped up in fame can mute or kill creativity.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

January 13, 2007: Tara Reid, Celebrity Tabloid Victim. RIP

Poor Tara Reid can't catch a break from thesuperficial.com which, at least, added some humor to coverage of Tara's hair: "Tara Reid showed up as a special guest to a cocktail party at Conrad Jupiters Magic Millions Carnival in Australia looking like she found a wig from a dumpster and threw it on. My guess is she tried styling her hair by herself after a night of drinking and passed out halfway through. And the hair magazine she was using as a guide was actually an old issue of Zoobooks."

I don't think she's going to get a break for a while. She's a target with a big fat bulls-eye on her every misstep. In the old days, before 24/7 media coverage, it's possible that a Tara Reid would get a break. But since her "girls gone wild" schtick from a couple of years ago took off like a tabloid rocket, there doesn't seem to be anything but an ocean crash in her future. Her recent "plastic surgery nightmares tell-all" blip on the cover of US magazine seems to have done nothing for her career, except maybe ensured a mid season two-parter on Nip Tuck.

My suggestion: lose the blond hair, do regional theatre, call Lifetime and see if you can play a valiant women with four kids who works at Walmart and fights some new disease. Then come back.

Friday, January 12, 2007

January 12, 2007: Fame Junkies! It's All About BIRG (Basking in Reflected Glory)

I love the new book Fame Junkies by Jake Halpern. Check out the excellent Fame Junkies synopsis.

Especially notable is the concept of BIRG, or basking in reflected glory. We truly are a culture obsessed with celebrity culture. Maybe one day schools will offer courses in being celebrity assistants since reflected glory is as good as glory itself to fame junkies.

Then one day kids will grow up telling their parents, "Mommy, I want to be Madonna's assistant." This is terrifying: "Interestingly, even those teenagers who are not expecting to become famous themselves are very much caught up in this obsession. In his survey, Halpern asked teenagers to choose which profession they would most like to have when they grow up. Among girls, 43.4% indicated that they wanted to become assistants to a celebrity. They chose this option twice as often as "the president of a great university like Harvard or Yale," three times as often as U.S. Senator, and four times as often as "the chief of a major company like General Motors."

What's so interesting about this statistic is that, among girls who indicated that they received bad grades in school (i.e., C's or below), the percentage who opted to become assistants rose to 67%. What's more, among both boys and girls who got bad grades – and who described themselves as being unpopular at school – the percentage who opted to become assistants rose further to 80%. Certainly, as these teenagers mature, many of them will develop other professional goals. Yet even if a fraction of them pursue their current aspirations, there is still the potential that vast numbers of young people may soon be flocking to LA and New York, in the hopes of enhancing their self-esteem by working intimately with celebrities."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

January 11, 2007: Ready for the Posh and Becks Onslaught?

I have Becks fever...He's a sexy man who gets points for his metrosexuality and a forgiving pass..for the weirdly high voice.

On the heels of David Beckham's newly announced $250 million deal with a relatively unknown Los Angeles soccer team that will lead he and his wife to move to the states, Armani just told the world that Becks want to be an actor.

Actor? Or just king of the world. International star. "The man." Period. For someone that intrigues so many, we know oddly little about him, other than he takes some damn sexy pictures when he's trying and when he's not (see above pic).

His hot presence in the states should heat things up for a public that's grown tired of TomKat's antics, and is ready to drink from a new well of celebrity envy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

January 10, 2007: Bindi Irwin Unnerves Me

OK, am I the only one freaked out by the preternatural smiling presence and MGM-child-star-Mickey-and-Judy-denial-mixed-with-outsized-ambition of Bindi Irwin?

She's got her TV show Bindi, the Jungle Girl. She has clothing lines, a theme park and a film on the horizon. She has a Vegas style singing and dancing revue that's like combining Debbie Reynolds with a trip to the zoo. But her takeover of the talk show circuit this past week has left me cold, frozen really, as if staring into the eyes of the kind of yellow-eyed snake that, apparently, thrills her and rocked the world of her late Dad.

Her appearance tonight on Larry King unnerved me. I mean, the recent Charlotte's Web press junket with 12-going-on-54 child star Dakota Fanning was enough. I think I even saw a glint of fear in Dakota's voiceover co-star Julia Roberts' eyes, as she listened to Dakota's overpowering positivity on everything from homeschooling to the rape scene in her new movie. I think we've seen what can happen. The streets are paved with child stars gone to hell in a handbasket. Drew Barrymore seems like one of the few exceptions.

Remember little "I see dead people" Haley Joel Osment? He was the last child star who captivated a nation. He just drove drunk off the road in LA and has added "mandated rehab" to his IMDB listing. Bindi's manager and her mother both say they aren't pushing her. I am not sure. All I know is that making your personal life into a professional multi media event has to have consequences, and not just the moolah Ms. Bindi is making.

Do preternaturally adult-acting child stars just freak you out, too?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

January 9, 2007: The Tale of Fat Ass, the Sad Figurehead, and that Poor, Pathetic Man

What a wallow for celebrity addicts! Just when it couldn't get any more ridiculous or insipid, the so-called "feud" between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell heated up for Round Four.Now he's going after Barbara Walters, saying that she lied to both he and Rosie. I am riveted.

He's sick. It's brilliant. Read all about Fat Ass, The Sad Figurehead, and that Poor, Pathetic Man. Today the ladies united, high-fived and Babs called him "pathetic." Awesome! There must be a real lady justice, since she pounded her gavel and sent ratings for the new L.A. Apprentice to the slammer.

All I can say is: "his lucky, lucky wife." She gets this in all its bellicose, gross, faux glory.

Monday, January 8, 2007

January 8, 2007: When Mr. Blackwell's List Seems Oddly Moral, Something's Very Wrong

As creepy as Blackwell and his Worst Dressed List is, this year he seems oddly moral in his denouncement of celebuskanks Paris, Brit, Loho, and Toho (as in Spelling). When anyone can make Mr. Blackwell come off as redeemable, it's time to question our taste in celebrities.

My only gripe is Meryl. What? You disagree? No, no, that's not a question. She deserves a pass. She looked absolutely fabulous in The Devil Wears Prada. That's all.

1. Britney Spears and Paris Hilton (tie) ("Two peas in an overexposed pod! Style-free and fashion deprived... ladies and gentlemen, the 'SCREAMGIRLS' have arrived!")
2. Camilla Parker-Bowles ("The Duchess of Dowdy strikes again! In feathered hats that were once the rage, she resembles a parakeet from the Jurassic age. A royal wreck.")
3. Lindsay Lohan ("From adorable to deplorable, Lindsay is tragically trapped in fashion's fast lane.")
4. Christina Aguilera ("La Diva Christina is a dazzling singer, But she puts good taste through the wardrobe wringer! All crass, no class!.")
5. Mariah Carey ("Mariah the fashion pariah has finally found her stylistic niche … let's crown her the Queen of Catastrophic Kitsch".)
6. Paula Abdul ("Wrapped in floral fiascos that grow moldier by the hour . . . She's a lumpy stem on a bumpy flower. A fallen fashion idol.")
7. Sharon Stone (""It's clear Sharon's'misplaced her fashion gift. An over-the-hill Cruella de Vil - after a seismic shift!")
8. Tori Spelling ("All chills and no thrills, Tori's down and out in Beverly Hills! She's definitely under fashion duress - positive proof that more is really less!")
9. Sandra Oh ("Layered lunacy - from toes to nose.")
10. Meryl Streep ("From Streep you could weep, her beauty of a career cannot be denied, but that beast of a wardrobe is pure mother of the bride."))

Sunday, January 7, 2007

January 7, 2007: Will You Always Love Whitney's Crackpipe and Crusty Undies? Buy Some Yourself!

Not only did Whitney lose her house in Atlanta to foreclosure, but they're auctioning her nasty panties, push up bras and crack pipes in a seedy New Jersey warehouse.

Andrea Peyser, in her New York Post column on Whitney's auction filtered through the grungy crap before the sale and described them as "underthings you would not want to touch without preventive medication." In fact, it's reported that drag queens walked out saying the stuff was too low rent. Learning to love yourself after hitting rock bottom better be the greatest love of all.

From adorable teen Whitney to "The Bodyguard" to "crack is whack" to "Being Bobby Brown" and Whitney's Famous Kiss My Ass Montage on You Tube to Motel Six and the National Enquirer shots of crackpipes and a trashed mini-bar, what would you want from Whitney's life and career if you could pick through the droppings in a seedy New Jersey warehouse?

Saturday, January 6, 2007

January 6, 2007: I Love Liz Smith

I love Liz Smith. Liz Smith's column is my first daily stop in celeb-world.

She always kicks her column off with an interesting quote and here is today's: "Philosophers say the best thing about celebrities is that their misbehavior distracts us from more pressing matters," writes Ken Barnes. True, true.

In the past year, in the midst of Hurricane Katrina clean up, the Iraq war, and social unrest, we get Lindsay Lohan exiting a club drunk.Liz goes on to comment on Penelope Cruz as a super celeb who stays out of the media firestorm:"Well, in the middle of last year's holidays, I met a 'celebrity' who isn't known for misbehavior. This gorgeous woman managed to have two huge public romances with major American male stars - Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey - without making too many waves. And when she and they said bye-bye, well, the breakups also happened with a maximum of dignity and no horrid true confessions. We tabloid fans never knew much about what these guys and Penelope Cruz felt. And she refuses to talk about her former lovers. So who is this paragon of virtue, high ambition and professional intent?"Penelope Cruz says no, and she manages her personal life well.

Sure, some stars (Jennifer Aniston) may get much more than they ask for, but so many of them hurl themselves at the media and then complain about the attention. Celebrities: just say no.

Friday, January 5, 2007

January 5, 2007: WeSmirch, The New Celebrity Gossip Aggregator

Just when I started overdosing on celebrity news, my friend Cathleen Rittereiser, the Comedy Legend sends me this email:"Check it out! A new Website that aggregates all the gossip blogs!!! http://www.wesmirch.com"

Great. Just what I need. Just what we all need. So now at a glance I can find out that Lindsay Lohan exited the hospital after being miraculously healed from her "appendicitis" in one glorious day, Ivanka Trump hates Rosie, too, and Britney and Kevin agree on custody...The headline adds an ominous "for now."Most of these blogs repeat what other blogs or entertainment news sources report, but now it's like getting the news from 48 TV's blasting it at you in the windows of Best Buy.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

January 4, 2007: The Year of Celebuskanks-My Top Ten

It's a term that, in our media world, hardly needs definition. People hear the term, mutter "Paris Hilton," and nod. But if you want the real definition, simple as it is, here goes.

Also, see Celebriskank.

There's plenty in the blogosphere on celebuskanks, but I think this elaboration on the celebuskank phenomenon Why Celebuskanks Exist is, at least, thought out, if full of questionable scientific reasoning behind why Paris, Britney and Ms. Firecrotch Lohan herself are compelled to show crotch.The top ten celebuskanks I'd like to see less of in 2007 are, in rank order (and I mean that in every sense of the word "rank"):

1. Paris Hilskank
2. Britney Spearskank
3. Lindskank Lohan
4. Anna Nic-ho Smithskank
5. Nic-ho Richskank
6. Tara Boobilicious Reidskank
7. Pamela Lee Rock Anderskank
8. Denise "Jolene" Richardskank
9. Heather Mills McCartskank
10. Two for one's Jessica and Ashlee Simpskank

Manskank shout-outs to Fed Ex, Brandon Doofus, Wilmer Crabs Valderama, Colin Farrell, Mel Gibson, Middle Aged Rock, Michael Richards, Donald Trump, Clay Aiken, Mark Foley, hypocritical colset case preachers, and Rosie O'Donnell. Did I miss any on your list?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

January 3, 2007: "Get More Money Out of Rosie O'Donnell's Fat Ass"-The War of Inanity Goes On

If I have to hear Donald Trump say one more time to a TV reporter how he wants to get more money out of Rosie O'Donnell's fat ass, I am going to dye my hair orange and style it "comb-over" ish, an homage to the grubby, short-fingered vulgarian from Queens who will stop at nothing to push his tired "Apprentice" TV show.

If there's any justice, his "Apprentice with My Kids" will flop big time this spring. Come on, fat women! Get mad at the Donald for his mean, personal attacks and boycott.

I just watched CNN's Showbiz Tonight's A.J. Hammer, TV Guide's Mary Murphy, and Court TV's Ashley Banfield debate the Rosie/Donald feud and it was insightful. Rosie and Donald are both master media manipulators who know how hard it is to get media attention these days and both know the escalation will help push the product (them) and boost their brands (them, their tv shows).And we buy it. We lap it up. But where's our line in the sand? Now that Barbara Walters has entered the fray and made her statement to the press supporting Rosie, basically calling Trump a liar for saying she (Barbara) hates Rosie, leading Trump to up the fight ante yet again like a schoolyard egotist who can't back down, what now?

What has to happen now for us to ignore these two? Why do we care?Will Trump's petty persona impact whether you watch The Apprentice? Will Rosie's endless verbal diarhea keep you from the View?

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

January 2, 2007: The Premiere of "Dirt!"

Tonight is the premier of Dirt, the Nip Tuck-ish stylish terrorthon about paparazzi favorite Courtney Cox getting her revenge on the tabloids who both boosted her career and stalked her every movement during "Friends" (especially with BFF Jennifer Aniston) by playing a "Devil Wears Long Lens" Bonnie-Fuller-but-worse tabloid editor who stops at nothing to get the celebrity scoop. The skinny is that it will get the Nip Tuck crowd, but really, the drinking game to beat has to be figuring out which story lines are roman a clefs about her friends. I am not sure I care about the show as much as I do that Hollywood stars probably consider this their moral duty to serve up a self-righteous expose. But do they get it right?

As New York Magazine notes, "Dirt wants us to believe that Courteney/Lucy has feelings that get hurt. On one occasion and very briefly, she seems to experience a soupçon of regret and a smidgen of shame. So we know that Dirt is fiction. I've stood in the lobby of places like the midtown Fox building, and I've looked into the faces of the people who work there as they emerge from elevators and grope toward sunlight, and I've hoped for a shadow of shame on a single face. But there is not an Ian Hart among them. They are proud of themselves."So why would Courtney throw herself into this if not for some sort of so-called comeuppance, or perhaps even more lofty, to teach Americans how evil the paprazzi really are? Maybe she should, a la Sinead O'Connor, rip up a picture of Rupert Murdoch and yell "Fight the real enemy" to kick the show off. Of course, I am watching the premiere.

Will you watch? After you see it a few times, is there any redeeming value to this show?

Monday, January 1, 2007

January 1, 2007: A New Year's Wish-Just Say No to Toxic Celebrities

It's the 1st day of 2007 and I am resolved to:

-Take up Yoga again.
-Cut out white flour.
-Laugh more.
-Try to be on time.
-Stop reading magazines like US, In Style, and In Touch, and avoid websites like Gawker.com and Defamer.com.

Yes, that's right. In addition to standard-issue changes like cutting out bad food and changing bad habits, I am taking on the role of celebrities in my life. I can't avoid them, can you? But sometimes I wonder what like would be like if, in 2006 alone, I didn't know:

10. What Britney's pudenda looks like from seven angles.
9. What Nicole Richie's eating coach has to say about her client's "stress-related" eating disorder; you know, the one that 85 pound Nicole won't admit to having.
8. The details of how Paris Hilton tore through Greek Shipping heirs and landed on the newswires day after day.
7. How Jennifer Anniston is faring post Brad and now Vince.
6. All the AA meetings Lindsay Lohan apparently attended.
5. The details of the TomKat wedding.
4. Rosie O'Donnell's tiresome thoughts on Clay, Kelly, and The Donald.
3. Breakup secrets of Reese and Ryan, Denise and Charlie, Heather and Richie, Brit and Fed-Ex, and Pam and Kid.
2. The lowdown on Matthew and Lance's man-cations.
1. Lifestyles of the rich and famous swag whores who are pushing their sixteenth minute of fame.

In 2007, I want to figure out why I waste my time reading about people who not only are strangers to me, but also qualify, by most standards, as the media age's version of village idiots.

I have a busy life, good career, great friends, and yet still I escape to the land of overrated celebrity.Is it harmless fun? Or something more nefarious? As I contemplate our celebrity-immersed lives, I feel completely disgusted with myself, as if I've eaten two Big Macs, watched a porno and gambled away the rent money during a late night binge on poker.com. I think it's time to take on celebrity culture.

What do you think?