Truthteller, Tavis Smiley — how about you be the first to say it's all a public-relations gimmick
Time magazine recently claimed it got a "scoop," when it had reporter Olivia B. Waxman (no relation to TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman) do a blog post titled, "How to Get a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame" with the subhead: "Pay a $30,000 sponsorship fee, for starters."
"So what, exactly, does it take to get one of these coveted pink terrazzo marble stars?" she wrote. "Time got the scoop from the newest member of the star selection committee: America’s Funniest Home Videos creator Vin Di Bona, and Ana Martinez, the Walk of Fame’s Vice President of Media Relations and Producer."
Stars have to pay to get on the Walk of Fame. Big scoop.
But there's something more important to talk about here. I wrote about it on this site two years ago, and since nothing has changed since then, it bears repeating:
Why does the national media go along with the Walk of Fame hype every two weeks, all through the year, but report neither the price of nor how they entire event is a public-relations gimmick usually timed to coincide with a celebrity's new movie, book, CD or public-awareness campaign for some issue or another?
Of course, the Walk of Fame events are fun and cool, and long may they live. Paid public-relations events have always been a part of Hollywood culture, and the Walk of Fame fits well into that picture, too. But shouldn't the media tell let readers in on the secret that all Hollywood is aware of?
And what about the stars themselves? Tavis Smiley, Sally Fields, Clare Danes, Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson — plus a dozen more — are in line to get a coveted star on the sidewalk in. But which of these "honorees" will tell the truth to their fans? Who among the 24 honoress will mention this when they wax poetic and say how ''honored'' they are to get this "award" and how ''surprised'' they were to find out they were getting such a wonderful prize?
Before my first Wrap blog on this subject, 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 informing readers that the sidewalk stars cost $30,000, paid for by the stars themselves or their studios, An AP editor heard me out and wrote back: "You've made an interesting point … if your facts are correct, you’re exactly right that we should add that. I’ll pass along to our entertainment editor."
He did, and now AP reports the facts. When Shakira got her star, the very last paragraph of a very thorough 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."
Telling the truth does not dimish the public-relations value of the unveiling event, nor does it dimish the 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 around the world.
So truthteller, Tavis Smiley — how about you be the first? I heard Piers Morgan congratulating you the other day on CNN for getting the nod for a star in 2014, and you said, "Thanks, Piers. It really is a nice honor."
Who's kidding who?