ENTERTAINMENT/OPINION

America’s Next Top Idol Survives
Big Brother’s Amazing Race

Now that the new karaoke champ, I mean “American Idol,” has finally, mercifully been crowned, I’ve been thinking about the interesting evolution of entertainment and society’s notion of celebrity.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with reality television. I came up when MTV’s “The Real World” made its debut. I loved it. That first season was classic from start to finish. The cast was well-chosen, and they had virtually no template to follow. They were simply fresh faced kids in New York, living, loving and trying to survive. It was gritty and truly “reality.” Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that there were not a few contrived moments on the show. I mean, the camera is still in your face, and one must naturally feel the need to play to it. Be that as it may, the best part was that it didn’t seem fake. That was the key.

Alas, that was 1992. In the last several years, reality television has completely taken over. The endless parade of models, chefs, decorators, housewives and dog whisperers has been unreal. Everybody wants to carve out their place in the annals of celeb-dom. It’s a bit much.

I’m not here to rain on the party. Television is still the realm of fun, mindless escapism, and I’m all for it. Far be it from me to deprive hard working people their daily dose of rooting for their favorite “character” on “America’s Top Idol Survives Big Brother’s Amazing Race.” To each his very own. Cable is the best invention since Coldstone.

It’s just….being a celebrity-of-the-moment and being a justifiably famous star are two entirely different things in my personal dictionary. The mere act of being on camera does not make you a star; just as simply blowing spit into a horn doesn’t make you the next John Coltrane.

Since I’ve been a publicist, I’ve overseen plenty of red carpet events. More often than not, “reality celebs” outnumber real actors, musicians and the like by huge percentages. You try being a talent spotter for a rabid den of photographers when the folks walking down the carpet have a combined six months of television exposure. How the hell am I supposed to know that the chick that just got out of the limo wearing a Michael Kors gown is the “star” of “My Fair Brady?” My bad, Associated Press.

I’m still young, but I’m old enough to miss the days of true glamour. Hey, I know nothing is new under the sun. Today’s Denise Richards/Richie Sambora/Heather Locklear “I took your man” drama is yesterday’s Elizabeth Taylor/Eddie Fischer/Debbie Reynolds “I married your man” shocker. But, Liz was that bitch. She was one of the most revered actresses of our time. Denise Richards’ claim to fame is a kissing scene in the 1998 cult film “Wild Things.” Come on. You ain’t no star-arh!

I’m talking about real stars. Katherine Hepburn, Dorothy Dandridge, hell, even a young Eartha Kitt. But this dusty bunch of nobodys? Something is rotten, and it ain’t in the state of Denmark.

Lindsay Lohan has had two box office hits in her life, and one of them came when she was like, twelve. In fact, she is the definition of “box office poison” these days. You wouldn’t guess that from the amount of round-the-clock coverage she gets. Quick, name her last two movies! Can’t do it, huh? Somehow for the press, Lohan (and her crazy ass family) has become some sort of irresistible combination of Michael Jackson and the damn Beatles. Really, who is she??

Seems folks are just obsessed with spilling the beans on the most mundane aspects of their lives. There is no mystique and we already know too much after the first episode.

I accept that reality TV is here to stay. I see the marketing on the wall. Oh well, I guess we’ll always have Paris. Hilton, that is. Damn.

Ellene Miles has worked as an entertainment publicist for more than 6 years. Her collections of rants are featured exclusively on UTC for the good of the people.


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