Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: celebrity

Will Meryl Streep Ever Follow Me On Twitter?

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Tonight is Oscar night, which brings up the same question I have asked myself again and again over the last seven years — “Will Meryl Streep ever follow me back on Twitter?” Or let me ask this in another way — “If I go my entire life without Meryl Streep following me back on Twitter, will I view my existence on earth as somewhat of a failure?”

I rarely dream about being followed back on Twitter. I know you care a lot about this.   I see you.  I see how you ass-kiss celebrities in the hope that they will validate your life.  I’m not impressed with that many people online.  OK, once I stalked someone. Yes, it was you Bon Stewart. I read one of your blog posts back when you wrote normal posts not about your crazy dissertation, and I went onto Twitter and asked, “Does anyone know this person? Because I want to know her.” And within an hour we were following each other on Twitter.

I don’t think this approach will work with Meryl Streep.  Meryl Streep is not as “easy” as you.

Celebrities tend to only follow back OTHER celebrities. Sometimes I see that they follow some journalist or author so they can appear intelligent to their fans, the online equivalent of Jessica Alba going to the gym wearing librarian glasses. Of course, celebrities only follow  other famous people when they are at a career high.  If a celebrity, journalist, or author gets in trouble for a inappropriate tweet or has a nervous breakdown on TMZ, then Goodbye Charlie.  As a CAA agent once told me during an interview, “Winners ONLY associate with winners.  That’s what Hollywood is about.  Period.”

Imagine the stress celebrites must feel not following us all back. We find it hard juggling 300 friends on Facebook. Imagine having people wanting your autograph and photo every time you walk into an Arby’s. I can understand why Meryl Streep might want to hide from her fans.

But me too, Meryl?

I like to look over the following lists of celebrities.   I’m always wondering, “Don’t celebrities have any friends outside of other celebrities? Don’t they have any annoying friends left over from grade school, or an Aunt Tilly in Tulsa that they are forced to follow on Twitter because their mother told them it was polite.”

It’s as if once you reach celebrity status, you can’t use social media for anything other than being a celebrity. I’m sure Meryl Streep would love to engage with me and talk about my instagram filters, but she just CAN’T — “says her business manager.”

Meryl, is that true?

Here is some article on “How to Make a Celebrity Follow You on Twitter.”

But honestly, do you really think any type of “engagement” or mere gimmick is going to win over Meryl Streep.   She’s not an idiot.   She went to Yale.   My movie buff friend Danny Miller interviewed Meryl Streep, AND could quote lines from Sophie’s Choice to her all night long, and Meryl Streep still doesn’t even him!

Perhaps this is my motivation to finish this dumb screenplay I’ve been working on forever. If I can change the stoned twenty-something character to a beautiful and sophisticated fifty year old artisan bakery owner, perfect for Meryl, and we can get her to agree to the part, maybe…. just maybe… but then again, I don’t think actresses even follow the screenwriters of their films. It’s a step down in the hierarchy. Way down.

I need to accept that Meryl Streep will never follow me back on Twitter. And what do I need her for anyway? I love all the friends that DO follow me back, and I would never trade any of you in for the greatest living actress.

OK, I would.

Fame!

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Jonas Salk and Paris Hilton

There is no TV show that irritates me more than 20/20, the ABC News “Magazine,” especially when John Stossel does one of his famous investigative reports. The “research” always reminds me of something I once did for my 8th grade Social Studies class.

Friday’s 20/20 was titled “Are We Addicted To Fame?”

If you could wave a magic wand and make yourself smarter, stronger, more beautiful, or famous, which would you pick? I was surprised by how many people pick fame over everything else.

The show introduces us to our culture’s sick obsession with celebrity and fame. There are showbiz kids desperate for a part in a sitcom, students who take Learning Annex-type courses to become celebrity assistants, and crazed fans who dream of just being in the same room as someone famous.

Throughout the show, you get the sense that (the famous) John Stossel looks down on these fanatics. In fact, he seems to be disappointed in MOST OF US, as if most Americans are a bunch of sick puppies. To understand our crazed obsessions better, he turns to the usual suspects — the EXPERTS!

I used to wonder where these newsmagazines always find these experts, but blogging has helped me understand how the mass media works. A few months ago, a producer from Washington Post Radio emailed me after I wrote some humorous blog post about Mel Gibson’s infamous night out.  The host wanted to interview me about my opinion of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism, as if I had some special knowledge of the subject because I was both Jewish and had seen Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome three times.  Do I really need to say any more about how qualified these experts are? (editor’s note: Neil is available as a media “expert” on blogging, relationships, Los Angeles, New York, Redondo Beach, pizza in Flushing, and women [sorry, that one is still a mystery to him])

For all of John Stossel’s hand-wringing about our sick society, he glosses over the fact that the ONES who profit the most from this celebrity culture are the experts he interviews, such as Janice Min, editor-in-chief of “Us Weekly.”

Ms. Min on celebrities of today:

“You don’t even have to be so talented to be famous. You just have to be outrageous, well dressed, gorgeous, date the right person.”

John Stossel also interviews Leigh Hallisey, a professor who TEACHES a course on TV and Popular Culture at Boston University’s College of Communication.

“It used to be enough that you got attention from your parents. You got attention from your teachers, your peers and that sort of thing, but that is no longer enough,” said Hallisey. “We want attention from the worldwide media.”

However, the real talking head of the show is Jake Halpern, who just happened to have written a book titled “Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America’s Favorite Addiction, which just happens to be be published by Houghton Mifflin RIGHT NOW in January 2007 (talk about a good PR firm). I have not read the book, but I have a feeling it doesn’t contain any scathing attacks on media-obsessed magazines such as US Weekly or Entertainment Weekly. How do I know this? Because Entertainment Weekly is running a 7-Page excerpt from the book right in the magazine! (another PR coup!)

John Stossel is fascinated by Mr. Halpern’s findings, tidbits like: most teenage girls would rather grow up to be a celebrity assistant than a U.S. Senator.

Mr. Halpern theorizes that celebrity magazines like “Us Weekly,” “People” and “In Touch” are so popular because people are lonely. Halpern points out that today more young people tend to marry later in life and more can afford their own living spaces, so they spend more time alone.

Celebrities become a way to connect us to each other. It’s sad really. There’s a lot of head-shaking going on in the 20/20 episode. Our children are fame junkies. The rest of us are lonely and miserable, with no connection to real life. The worst part of our celebrity obsession is that we are all growing up to be imbeciles. To prove this, John Stossel takes to the streets and asks passerbys to identify both Paris Hilton and Jonas Salk. Much like in those Tonight Show “Jaywalking” segments, most people are idiots. Everyone knows Nicole Richie’s former partner, but only an oid fart has heard of the developer of the first polio vaccine.

For shame! For shame!

But who’s to blame? Our parents? Our schools? Modern loneliness?

If John Stossel had any cojones he would have looked over at some of the ABC News executives he works with.  A quick search on the ABC News website shows 505 pages of news stories about Paris Hilton and ONLY 22 pages about Jonas Salk. Is it any wonder we know and care more about Paris Hilton than Jonas Salk — because ABC News likes it that way!

By the way, just out of curiosity, I looked up the last ABC News story that mentioned Jonas Salk, one of the greatest men of the Twentieth Century. This is it

The same year that Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine for polio, a little-known chemist at General Foods stumbled on to what would provide a revolution in mouths across the country.

William A. Mitchell had a simple hope in 1956 — make instant soda from a tablet. The soda didn’t pan out, but he created a hit. His research led to the invention of Pop Rocks candy.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: CES, Day One

Encounter in IHOP

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I was hungry last night, but there was nothing in the fridge.  So, I walked over to the finest establishment in my neighborhood, IHOP, and ordered French toast (I was feeling wild).

I suddenly realized that I never showered after going to the gym, so I must have looked sweaty and grimy. 

As I waited for my meal, a mother and daughter passed by as they went to pay their bill.   The daughter, a cute twelve-year old girl, shyly looked my way.  A few seconds passed after they passed me, and then they reappeared — standing right next to my table!

“Excuse me,” said the mother.  “I really hope I’m not bothering you.  But my daughter wants to ask you something.” 

The little girl was nervous.  The mother held the girl’s hand to calm her. 

What was going on?

The only scenario I could come up with was that they were a rich Beverly Hills family, they thought I looked homeless, and they wanted to pay for my French toast.

“Go ahead, Jen,” said the mother.  “Ask him.”

But the girl was frozen in fear.  The mother decided to help her daughter out.

“My daughter wants to know if you’re an actor?”

“An actor?” I asked.

“Are you Kirk?” the girl blurted out, finally finding her voice.

“Kirk?” I said, confused.  “No, I’m sorry.  I’m not Kirk.”

“My daughter wants to know if you “play” Kirk,” the mother explained.  “On “Gilmore Girls?”

“No, I’m sorry…”

I had no idea who “Kirk” was.  I’ve never seen “Gilmore Girls,” although it just happens to be my mother’s favorite show and she’s always telling me to watch it.

The girl looked crushed.  I was not “Kirk.”

If I had more time to think, or if I was just a little more quick-witted, I would have lied to the girl.  It would have been worth it.  I would have given her a story she would have remembered for the rest of her life. 

“Imagine!” she would tell her grandchildren.  ” I met Kirk at the IHOP on Wilshire Boulevard!  He even signed a menu!  Look — “Kirk.”

Hey, if I had met Lisa Bonet in a Chili’s Restaurant in 1980, I’d still be writing about it on my blog.

I tried to come up with something positive to say to the girl.  I felt guilty about getting her all excited about meeting “Kirk,” then snapping her dream like a twig.

“You know…” I said with a gentle smile, “‘Gilmore Girls’ is my mother’s favorite show.  She’ll appreciate that you thought I was Kirk.”

“You hear that, Jen?” said the mother.  “His mother loves “Gilmore Girls” too!”

The girl shrugged, like she gave a rat’s ass.   

I got home and decided to call my mother just to tell her the story.  She laughed.

“That’s so cute,” she said.

But there was one unresolved matter.

“So, tell me, Mom, who the hell is ‘Kirk’?”

“Oh, he’s the town weirdo.”

Jessica Alba Sex Video Revealed!

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(Dave Matthews’ "Crash" plays in the background)

Jessica:  Take me, Bead Necklace…

Bead Necklace:  I love when you touch me… there.

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Jessica:  You certainly are BIG… Bead Necklace.

Bead Necklace:  I’m sorry my loft is such a mess.

Jessica:  Your place could use a makeover, Bead Necklace.  Like actually putting your door on its hinges.  But you are so hot.

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Jessica:  I love the way you caress me, Bead Necklace…
Bead Necklace:  Shhh… don’t talk…

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Jessica:  That was amazing, Bead Necklace.   You really know how to satisfy a woman.

Bead Necklace:  You mind if I go outside for a smoke?

Jessica:  You’re not going to keep that videotape of our lovemaking, are you, Bead Necklace?

Bead Necklace: (LAUGHING)  Of course not.  

(via Jessica Alba in Entertainment  Weekly)

Real Celebrity Encounters

 

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My weekend of celebrity photos reminded me of an email conversation I recently had with a woman who just graduated college.  She lives in a small Midwestern town and wants to move to either New York or Los Angeles. 

"What is it like?" she wants to know.

She doesn’t have a job, friends, or family in either of these places.  Of course, I told her that big city life is great and has many cultural advantages, but I was concerned about her reasons for wanting to move.  She seemed to mostly buy into the media image of the glamour of these cities.   Let’s stop the urban legends right now.  Most young New Yorkers do not live in the apartments you see in "Friends."  Real New York women do not live "Sex in the City" lives.  Few Angelenos shop in Beverly Hills ala "Pretty Women."  Ask any New Yorker living in a tiny apartment on 123rd Street for $2500 a month or any Angeleno driving in a rush hour traffic (or trying to buy a house) and they’d tell you the truth:  life here isn’t all that glamorous.

College girl was most excited with the prospect of meeting celebrities.  All she seemed to care about was which celebrities I have met.  She loves reading blogs from the big cities, where bloggers write about all the celebrities encounters.   She especially loves this popular LA blog, which frequently talks about celebrity encounters.  I like this blog, too, but I also know that the glamour of Hollywood life is as real as the women in Playboy.

By living in these big cities, I’ve encountered many different celebrities.  Some at work, some at the car wash.  Sophia, in particular, has worked with many famous actors as an actress and a Russian dialect coach for TV and films.  She recently was the coach for Nicolas Cage in his next movie, where he plays a Russian-born arms dealer.  

Celebrities are not any more exciting than anyone else, just a whole lot more pampered.

It’s true that the first time you accidentally bump into Michael Douglas in the shopping mall, you call all your friends.  But gradually, you are taught that what distinguishes you — a hip urbanite — from the Midwestern tourist, is that you must always act cool and make believe that you hardly notice the person’s celebrity status.  Only tourists and desperate people ask for an actual autograph.   I completely ignored David Schwimmer when we both reached for the same box of Cheerios in Ralph’s.   He would think I was a total dweeb if I went "Oh my God, it’s Ross from ‘Friends,’ the show with the giant New York apartments!  Please sign my Cheerios box!"

I think other bloggers sometimes mention all these celebrity encounters to make others "envious," as if there was something wrong living in Kansas City.  The truth is that most big city dwellers would be much happier living in a nice big house in a small town in Wisconsin.  Instead, we put up with all sorts of shit just to feel like we are somehow more important because Pamela Anderson visits the same dry cleaners we do.   Every dry cleaners in Los Angeles has a hundred glossy photos on the wall.  Is this the new casting central?

Creating envy is the sole purpose of New York and Los Angeles magazines, two rags which create a total bullshit image of these cities.  I read both of them.  Don’t take any media about big city life seriously. 

I’ve only had four celebrity encounters that are even worth mentioning.

1)  I once got drunk with Tim Allen, where he said things I cannot mention in polite company.

2)  I once had a very funny conversation with multi-billionaire best-selling author Sidney Sheldon (I know, not exactly ‘celebrity’) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and then lent him the three bucks for parking because he didn’t carry money around with him.

3)  I was alone, late at night, in the gym, with Bruce Springsteen.  If you live in Los Angeles, you probably know the small cheapo ‘Beverly Hills Health and Fitness’ on Beverly Drive.  The place was empty, except for me and … someone who looked like Bruce Springsteen. 

"Could it be?  Why would he be at this crappy gym?  Should I say something to him?  Should I say that I own every one of this albums?"  

This was finally someone who I would ask to sign my Cheerios box. 

Suddenly, the Boss started to walk over in my direction.  He was in great shape.  He pointed to some dumbbells sitting next to me.

Bruce:   "You using those?"

Me:  "Uh, no."

I handed them to him.  Our hands brushed against each other.  BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S HAND!

That was it.

4)  The last encounter was interesting only because it got me in trouble with my entire family.

Sophia and I were in New York.  We were going to a production of "Uncle Vanya" at Lincoln Center with my parents.  The show was starring Kevin Kline, one of Sophia’s favorites.  We were eating in an Italian restaurant before the show, when Kevin Kline, his wife Phoebe Cates, and one of their children, sit at the booth behind ours.  I’m the only one who notices them.  Kevin Kline and Sophia are literally sitting back to back in their respective booths.

Since I know of Sophia’s obsession with Kevin Kline, I wanted to tell her about him, but my parents have a reputation for being somewhat "overfriendly" and I was concerned that if I told everyone at my table, my parents would go over and talk to him — and embarrass me for the rest of my life.

I decided that I would just tell Sophia.  I was already living in Los Angeles at the time, so I was already indoctrinated in the "being cool with celebrities" attitude necessary to be considered a hipster.  How can I tell Sophia with being overheard by Kevin Kline?

Neil:  (whispered)  "Sophia.  Twelve o’clock."

Sophia:  "Twelve o’clock?"

She looked at her watch.

Sophia:  "It’s seven o’clock.  What wrong with you?’

Obviously Sophia never used this code when out in a bar checking out the opposite sex with friends.   No, she was probably talking to the opposite sex, not just standing there all night with loser friends, like I did.

I came up with a new plan.

Neil:  "Do you have a pen?"

Sophia:  "Why do you need a pen?"

Neil:  "I just want to write something down."

Sophia:  "What?"

Neil:  "I dunno.  An idea for a screenplay."

Sophia:  "Now?  In the middle of dinner?"

Neil:  "Just give me a pen."

Dad:  "I have a pen."

My father hands me his prize possession — his Parker pen that he’s kept in his shirt pocket for 30 years.  I try to write with it on a napkin.

Neil:  "It doesn’t work."

Dad:  "It has to work.  It’s a brand new refill from Staples.  You need to shake it."

Mom:  "Artie, when are you going to buy yourself another pen?"

Dad:   ‘They don’t make pens like this anymore."

Neil:  "Because they don’t work."

My mother dumps the contents of her pocket book onto the table, and hands me a Bic pen.

Meanwhile, a waiter brings a birthday cake over to Kevin and Phoebe’s child.  A group of waiters come over to their table and start singing Happy Birthday.  My parents and Sophia, still not knowing who they are, start singing along.

Everyone:  "Happy Birthday to you…"

Everyone claps.  I write a note to Sophia on a napkin.  It reads "Kevin Kline" with a arrow.  I slide the napkin over to her.  She reads it, getting annoyed at my behavior.

Sophia:  "I know who’s in the play.  Are you in a rush again to get there?  It’s not like it’s a movie where you need to watch all those boring trailers.  We already have seats."

Neil:  "No, read it again." 

Sophia:  "You’re acting really weird."

My father finished shaking his pen and scribbled something on his napkin.

Dad:  "Look, it’s working!

The Kline family left before I got a chance to tell the rest of my family.   After they left, I finally told them.   My family was upset at me.

Sophia:  "How could you be so selfish not to tell me?  You know I love Kevin Kline!"

There are many reasons to move to New York or Los Angeles.  Just don’t make it because of the celebrities. 

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