|English: Monty Woolley's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
> -----Original Message----- > From: Dan Bloom <email@example.com> > To: crousseau <firstname.lastname@example.org> > Cc: dan bloom <email@example.com> > Sent: Sun, Apr 14, 2013 2:22 am > Subject: Roger Ebert was not 'awarded' a Walk of Fame star; a group of his > pals in Chicago paid for it. Roger admitted this to me a few years ago when > I asked him about it. Read on. > > > Roger Ebert was not 'awarded' a Walk of Fame star; a group of his pals > in Chicago paid for it. Roger admitted this to me a few years ago when > I asked him about it. Read on. > > by DAN BLOOM > > http://open.salon.com/blog/danbloom/2013/04/13/roger_ebert_was_not_really_awarded_a_walk_of_fame_star > > > In all due respect to the late great Roger Ebert, after his death the > Associated Press reported that among his many accomplishments and > awards, he was also awarded a star in 2005 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But in > fact, just to set the record straight, a group of Roger's friends in > Chicago got together in 2004 and ponied up the money it cost to > officially nominate someone for such an "award" -- paid publicity > gimmick is the correct term -- and I even asked Roger about this a few > years ago. > > He admitted that it was true, but added: "While [it is true that] one > must for pay the expense of a star on the Walk of Fame, one cannot > 'buy' it. It is voted on. Otherwise, there would be tens of thousands. > [Anyone] could have one." > > Roger was correct, a committee must vote on approving each star, but > it is also true that anyone can pony up the money or have a group of > friends or fans pony up the money and nominate you for a star on the > famous sidewalk in Hollywood. The price now for a star in $30,000 but > when Roger got his star it was just $25,000. Still, it was not an > award or a prize per se. It was a paid publicity and recognition > action. > > The Walk of Fame is filled with many such paid PR gimmicks > masquerading as "awards." Bill Geist, the TV humorist, actually paid > for his own star by himself, and he admitted this to me in an email. > Most movie stars use the stars to promote > either a new film that is opening -- think a recent new James Bond > film! -- or to push a new public service campaign they are involved > in. The Walk of Fame has never been an award machine. The stars are > paid for by the studios or the stars themselves, and guess what, it's > a nice tax write-off, too. It's a win-win situation for both the stars > and the Walk of Fame people because Hollywood gets a wonderful tourist > attraction that adds two new stars a month. > > I'm not saying anything new here, and I regard Roger Ebert with > admiration and respect as a movie critic and writer. I befriended him > over the past few years by email and via his blog, and he always > replied to me. He referred to me as "my pal Dan Bloom" in one of his > tweets about the Japanese word "pokkuri" we had chatted about that > year. > > That a group of his Chicago pals got together and put up the money and > nomimate him for a Walk of Fame "honor" is cool, and everybody knows > this in Chicago. A top newspaper reporter there told me in an email > when I asked him about it: "Nobody mistakes this for the Nobel Prize, > and I have in fact read the caveats about the cost and the selection > process, repeatedly." > > The Chicago newsman added: ''Regarding Roger's star on the Walk of > Fame, look, there used to be a columnist around here who'd go to > Florida and write about the heat, or cover Wimbledon and report that > the Brits drive on the wrong side of the road. We called it > 'discovering common knowledge'. So sure, when Roger got his star in > Hollywood, it was a big deal here in Chicago. I think his friends paid > for it." > > Roger admitted this to me, too. > > So when AP reporter Caryn Rousseau wrote the other day that "Ebert was > the first journalist to win the Pulitzer Prize for movie criticism and > was the first critic to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame," > she was correct on both counts. But she didn't tell readers how the > star was bought and paid for a group of Roger's friends in Chicago in > 2005. It was not an award, like the Pulitzer Prize was. There's a > difference, and Roger knew it, too. > > When I asked him about his star, he admitted it all to me but brushed > my misgivings about the paid nature of the Walk of Fame "events," and > suggested I should be more incensed and worrried -- as he said he was! > -- about "the annual Oscar campaigns by studios and how evil they > are." > > I promised Roger I would look into that, too, and I am. > > > A few years ago, I wrote a rather contentious commentary headlined > ''Let's Stop Pretending Getting a Star on the Walk of Fame Is a Real > Honor'' in which I spilled the beans on how celebrities today get > stars on the famous Walk of Fame in Hollywood. And I asked the > national media to start reporting > the backstory to the > Walk of Fame "awards," since they are not really awards at all, but > paid public relations events. And that's cool. Paid public relations > events have always > been a part of Hollywood culture, and the Walk of Fame fits well into > that picture, too. > > As a result of my lobbying, which was encouraged by my correspondence > with Roger, the Associated Press now routinely reports that the stars > on the Walk of Fame are in fact paid for, and notes the costs, too -- > although Reuters and Agence France-Press still don't tell readers the > truth. > > "For more than 50 years, the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been handing > out stars to stars, from Joanne Woodward in 1960 -- she was the first > to land one -- to Charlie Chaplin and Dennis Hopper and Bill Maher and > Penelope Cruz," I reported a few years ago. "It's a time-honored tradition, > makes for great photo opps, fits nicely into marketing and PR > campaigns, and it's fun. Everyone in Hollywood knows the backstory to > the Walk of Fame, how the events are part of the Hollywood tourism > industry and are paid for by the studios themselves to the tune of > $30,000 per star now. The money covers sidewalk maintenance, the award > event itself, media outreach and other things." > > "But while the film industry and the news media know that the stars on > the Walk of Fame are part of a savvy PR enterprise, and not actual > awards or honors themselves, news outlets from Reuters to CNN > and AFP continue to play along with the award events and cover the > day's speeches as if it's a big honor," I added. "And the news photos > that go out on the wire the next day, reprinted in thousands of > newspapers and blogs and websites, make it appear as if Star X > actually won a new award. Isn't it time to stop this hypocrisy on the > part of the news media? Isn't it time for Reuters and CNN to > report the real back story behind the awarding of the stars each time > the wire photos go worldwide, just as a truth-in-reporting service to > readers and fans? It sometimes seems as if the media keeps running > photos of celebrities no matter what they do, even if what they do is > not so newsworthy at all. When does this news charade stop, and when > does better reporting begin?" > > I asked the Associated Press wire service in New York and Los Angeles > if its reporters could start covering the Walk of Fame ceremonies and > star awards more accurately, by at least > telling readers that the sidewalk stars cost $30,000 and are paid > for by the stars themselves or their studios. An AP editor heard me > out and wrote back, noting: "You've made an interesting point > about how the media reports the Walk of Fame ceremonies. If your facts > are correct, you’re exactly right that we should add that context > [that the star ceremony is a paid publicity event]. I’ll pass along to > our entertainment editor." > > When Shakira > got her star on the Walk of Fame, the very last paragraph > of a news story by AP reporter Edwin Tamara said: "A > committee selects celebrities eligible for a Walk of Fame star and > those who accept pay $30,000 in costs and fees." > > I was very > glad to see the AP reporting the truth about the Walk of Fame > events, and that's why I was a bit taken aback when the recent AP > story by Caryn Rousseau neglected to note that Ebert's Walk of Fame > star was paid for by a group of his Chicago friends. She knows that, > and yet she didn't report it. That's not honest journalism. > > It does not dimish the public relations value of the Walk of Fame's unveiling events, nor odoes it diminish a celebrity's reputation or image. It's a win-win situation for > everyone: the studios, the stars, the Walk of Fame committee, and most > importantly, readers not only in North America but around the world as > well. > > When I raised these questions a few years ago, one reader wrote to me: > "The fact is that most awards are promotional in nature. The Miss > America pageant began as a way of publicizing the Jersey boardwalk. > The handprints in cement at Grauman's began as a way for Sid Grauman > to promote his new theatre. The Emmys began as an attempt by the new > television industry to promote its product. And how much money do the > studios spend on those full-page ads touting the fact that their > productions won an Oscar? The stars on the Walk of Fame are genuine > honors. No, they are not on a par with an Oscar, and yes, one doesn't > have to be a huge star to get a star on the Walk. But it's also not > as if any Tom, Dick or Harry can just walk in off the street and 'buy' > the award." > > Another reader said: "I agree that the media's glossing over or > ignoring the use of Walk of Fame stars as typically promotional is > fairly irresponsible. On the other hand, the Hollywood Chamber of > Commerce deserves greater responsibility for degrading the historic > value of the stars on the Walk by allowing them to be, effectively, > bought. I lost all hope when Britney Spears got one. I'm not saying > she's completely undeserving, but she got one almost as soon as she > met the minimum criteria, which is a shame. I was there last year, > and while I didn't recognize every name, I waxed nostalgic about many > of them. Somehow, I doubt my 20-year-old daughter would look at > Britney's star 20 years from now and think to herself, 'I remember > her, and she was awesome'." > > A third reader told me: ''I think you're dwelling too much on the > point that they have to pay $30,000 for a star. It's not like anyone > can have a star. I don't think it's an Earth-shattering scandal that > celebrities appear on Leno, Conan, Letterman and Kimmel shows only > when it's time to plug something. Publicity is just embedded into the > way Hollywood operates." > > When I told film critic Roger in 2010 about my > lobbying campaign on this issue, he told > me by email to forget about it and focus on more important things, > like the way studios "buy" Oscars with fullpage ads in the trades and > other expensive marketing campaigns. > > In honor of Roger Ebert, yes, > that is to be my next Hollywood lobbying campaign. Wish me luck.