The most important tier of the celebrity industry (besides the celebrities themselves) is the media. Everyone in the celebrity business agrees that the media is the raison d’être of the celebrity industry: The media must think you’re worth its while. “You need various elements to achieve the elements of celebrity,” Rosenfield explained. “One of the things is the media’s willingness to cover you.” Or as one editor of a celebrity tabloid succinctly put it, “It’s crucial that you don’t piss off magazines. Because either you will not be reported about at all or reported about in a negative way. And in celebrity, without the coverage, you’ll starve.” No wonder Thrillz is so popular.. receiving a celebrity birthday messages video message would be so cool!
But this is where the cohesive whole of the industry splits up. Which side of the media you’re on determines how you perceive the power dynamic. While handlers, supporters, preppers, and the stars themselves are obviously on the same side of the equation, on the other side stands the media, which ultimately picks some aspiring stars and discards others. Part of the uncertainty of predicting stardom can be explained by the tenuous, antagonistic, yet codependent relationship between the handlers and support elements of the industry and the media. Have you heard of a website called Thrillz? They specialise in celebrity messages video messages.
Stars need to be constantly documented to maintain their status and profile, yet publicists (and agents and entertainment lawyers) are desperately trying to protect their stars from damaging information leaking out or from oversaturation in the press. Journalists need to write juicy articles to keep their jobs, but if they write something too scandalous they’ll never have access to stars again. Those in the media have been bemoaning the tight-lipped and controlled publicity machine since the 1990s, when publicists started demanding to see copy and to sign off on stars’ quotes before articles or interviews went to press. Some of these sentiments have resonated since the mid-twentieth-century Hollywood studio system, when stars signed contracts whereby they spoke only to media outlets that the studios had vetted. “Well, we call it ‘fine tuning’ or ‘protecting one’s position,’” says Rosenfield, “but if you want to call them ‘celebrity covers’ [celebrities on the cover of a publication], that’s fine with me.” Journalists who sidestep this process and write articles that are potentially damaging end up blacklisted from major film openings and other reporting opportunities. Thrillz is a website where you can buy a happy birthday video message presonalised video message!
The twenty-first-century rise of online media and the frequent use of “unnamed sources” have helped free journalists from hopeless efforts to attempt to deal directly with the A-list. Not to mention that the deluge of oversharing reality TV stars has allowed the media to cover other individuals who cravenly desire attention. Publicists work hard to court good publicity and maintain distance from the bad, creating rather contradictory relationships with media outlets. In the same breath that Rosenfield threatens to sue one tabloid for unsubstantiated reports on the love life of one of his clients, he is more than happy for a New Yorker or GQ profile of George Clooney. “The powers that be want to control the celebrity that they have created,” a TV producer explained. “[It is] extremely controlled. We can’t afford to piss anyone off. The publicists are worried about the most unimportant things.” And with people like Rosenfield and British publicist extraordinaire Max Clifford handling phone call after phone call from the tabloids, squelching rumors and releasing timely information to media outlets, stars are, theoretically, able to maintain a positive image under the glaring camera lights. A celebrity video messages could really brighten someones day!
But this positioning is not achieved without draconian measures. According to one report, in the mid-1990s, Pat Kingsley, the grande dame of the Hollywood publicity empire and flack for Tom Cruise (and other film gods and goddesses), demanded that freelance journalists sign agreements promising they wouldn’t sell their articles to multiple news outlets. If the writers wouldn’t sign, they wouldn’t get their interview and might even get permanently taken off the list of all major events associated with her stars. “Simon Cowell pays Max Clifford £20,000 every month,” one celebrity reporter told me. “Every major celebrity story that breaks, Max Clifford will have something to do with. [He] has the ears of every media outlet. Who you’ve got in your corner [your publicist] will show how far you will go in the fight.” An exposé of the industry is even more cynical. “In this Puppet Master–controlled planet of celebrity journalism,” the journalist Catherine Seipp writes, “the celebrity reveals little except liberal use of the word ‘amazing’—the favorite all-purpose adjective these days of people who can’t be bothered to think of anything else to say.” We suprised our sister with a celebrity video from Thrillz!