Measuring That "15 Minutes" Everyone Is Supposed To Get

Bob Newhart is an old friend, so when they had a Roast for him, I was one of the guests on the dais. My offering was a quick summary of that 15-minutes-of-fame everyone is supposed to get:

“It all starts with people in the business asking ‘who’s Bob Newhart,’ then later ‘get me Bob Newhart,’ later on ‘get me a Bob Newhart type,’ and finally ‘who’s Bob Newhart.”

When I used that quip it was meant to be funny, but now years later I realize how accurate it really is. In America — the land of the free and the home of the National Enquirer — fame is an obsession. Almost everyone wants to be famous. Until that is some get there and then begin resenting all the intrusive gossip reporters and photographers. Proving the old adage: Careful what you want, you just may get it

Celebrity in America comes in various categories:

* Perennials ~ Silly but rich and glamorous people like Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan are always there for us to either envy, laugh at, or both. It’s a special status reached by only a few. Trouble is, these few get re-used by the junk papers time and time and time again

* Flash-in-the-Pan ~ These are those occasional characters who catch fire for one reason or another. Justin Bieber iis only the most recent example. There have been hundreds of these flashes over the years whose faces you might still recognize although no longer their names. Classic examples include all those momentary darlings from past-and-forgotten shows like The Brady Bunch and singing groups like The Monkeys

* Negative ~ Oh yes, there is such a thing as negative fame. Consider current examples like Mel Gibson and Arnold Schwarzenegger who have lost some favor with the masses and yet can still churn up a crowd wherever the go. By this point, the crowds are more gawkers than fans, but for some celebrities they would rather have negative appeal than no appeal

* Turn-Arounds ~ There’s a rule in the business which says, “Any publicity is better than no publicity.” This refers to those stars for whom something suddenly goes wrong and their PR team tries to turn wrong into right. Case in point, Beyonce and the flap over her lip-syncing. Her team turned this negative into a positive at a hastily arranged press conference where she belted out the National Anthem live. Now that’s turning lemons into lemonade

Bottom line — celebrity’s 15 minutes are fragile and fleeting. Ironically, it’s those who catch it who are the ones most likely to discover this.

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