Monday, April 15, 2013

Dan Bloom sez Roger's Star was purchased for him

English: Monty Woolley's star on the Hollywood...
English: Monty Woolley's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dan Bloom <>
> To: crousseau <>
> Cc: dan bloom <>
> 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.
> 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.

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