Sunday, 25 January 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #219: Compare & Contrast

This is my 500th post. Proving that I really can flog a topic to death better than anyone.

Anyway, enough self congratulation, it's time to get down to the business of this blog, which probably involves a lot of griping.

In the past I've discussed how the world of the celebrity is divided between Media Appealers, and Audience Appealers, and the importance of audience goodwill in the strength and longevity of an actor's career, but I think it's time to reiterate some of those points through the are of comparing and contrasting. So I'm going to pick two famous people, and explain what's similar about them, and what's different about them, to hopefully teach people about fame, how to get it, and how to translate it into real success in show business.

First up...


1. Both come from wealthy families. The Hiltons have their chain of hotels. Dreyfus' father is a senior partner in the biggest commodities trading firm in Europe, and the Dreyfus family are worth billions of dollars.

2. Both are supposed to be actresses. Though it is in dispute with one of them.

1. Hilton uses her famous name to promote her career, and assumes the constant publicity will make her a "star." The majority of people who watch Dreyfus on TV probably don't even know that her family's wealthy, and eschewed the socialite celebutard lifestyle, spending years in the trenches as a working actress until she hit it big with Seinfeld.

2. Hilton craves the spotlight, becoming a regular in tabloids, entertainment "news" shows, and gossip sites treating bad publicity the same as good publicity. Dreyfus, avoids the spotlight for just about anything that doesn't involve her work.

Paris Hilton is famous, but really can't carry a movie in a film festival swag bag, banishing them to DVD oblivion where the only people who see them are the judges of the Razzie Awards. Even the reality shows that made her now dwell, exiled, in the backwaters of cable television. The only reason she gets any work is because some dimwit investor gets hoodwinked into thinking that her fame somehow translates into stardom.

Dreyfus is on her second successful sitcom, and while it may be considered beneath an "A-list" movie career, it may be interpreted that she's found something she's good at, the sitcom, that she works hard at, and it appears that audience appreciates that. She made a niche for herself with a built in audience, and it seems to be working for her. She doesn't appear to be interested in the fame for the sake of fame ethos, that many of Paris' generation seem obsessed with, but with the old fashioned actor's ideal of putting the work first.

Second up....

1. Both were actors who started their careers as kids, who then exploded into mainstream stardom in their late teens/early twenties, and both have histories of family dysfunction.

2. Both have a history of addiction, both have spent time in rehab, and both have been arrested with Downey jr. spending some fairly hard time in jail.

1. While Downey jr. has come clean about his past addiction issues, and has appeared to have reinvented himself as someone dedicated to his family and work. Lohan still acts like the Los Angeles club scene is her sandbox, and seems more interested in tabloid attention than actually buckling down and getting her crippled career back on track.

Lindsey Lohan couldn't get hired to make a sex tape with Screech from Saved By The Bell, and even if she did, all it would get is a Razzie nomination.

Meanwhile Robert Downey jr. just finished the best summer of his career, has rocketed to the big-money A-List, and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. And his reaction to that Oscar, the statement: "It's about time narcissistic, accolade-seeking idiotic actors were formally recognized,
" shows a very healthy attitude towards the whole fame game.

Lohan still seems to think that as long as she's in the tabloids, it's only a matter of time before she's a "star" again. She doesn't seem to realize that she's actually making it harder to be a star in anything but a gossip blog.

Let's look at it this way. When Downey was on his downward spiral, his behaviour was self-destructive, which meant that he appeared to be only hurting himself. Plus, I don't recall ever hearing any stories about Downey being a problem to work with, or doing his job poorly. He did his work as best he could, something that's very impressive, considering the problems he was going through.

Lohan on the other hand, is the subject of constant stories of bad on set behaviour. Late nights out, late appearances on set, dirsuptive behaviour, poor performances, annoyed and angry co-stars and crew, and making her herself otherwise not worth the trouble.

Both Hollywood and the audience can be very forgiving of addiction, but what neither can abide a poor work ethic.

Downey rejected trying to win his way back to stardom through the media by attracting petty scandals among the jet set, but worked, and worked, and worked. He worked like a mule at everything, from acting to staying sober. People saw this, appreciated it, and now are rewarding it.

So I guess the lesson to be derived from this is that being famous is easy in this tabloid sodden age, but turning that fame into an actual career in showbusiness still requires a hell of a lot of hard work.


  1. Congratulations on the 500, Furious D. You're writing them faster than I can read them. At this rate I'll never catch up.

  2. That's why there are archives and all-night reading sessions.

    Plus, I'm writing a book based on the things I talk about here, so when it's ready, you can buy it. ;)

  3. How's the book thing coming? I'm looking forward to it.

  4. I'm at almost 55,000 words. Today I completed the first draft on the chapter that summarizes how a movie gets made from script to screen.

  5. Nice piece D.

    Don't forget George Lucas's motto for young film makers: "Edit edit edit".

  6. Well, will you look at that: the comments section opened for me.

    Of course I'll buy your book, Furious D. Just post the when and how and I'll do my part.