a novel by JOHN GRABOWSKI

Posts tagged “celebrities

The price of fame: Living your life in public

Britney & paparazzi

The paps, getting a piece of her.

She’s a wildly-famous blonde superstar who’s been in the spotlight since she was a teenager, and she nearly lost her mind because of the relentless scrutiny she found herself under.

But we’re not talking about Welsey Shaw.

Britney Spears could probably identify with my blonde heroine. No matter what you think of her talents, you have to admit she must have stamina to live her life with paparazzi camped outside her door and reporters following her every move.

She recently told the magazine Marie Claire UK that for many years she didn’t know who she was or what she was. She was living a life defined by other people, unable to form her own self.

I can’t justify the craziness of the public eye for Britney’s former irresponsible behavior. She endangered her children, of whom she lost custody (since re-won, at least on a 50/50 basis with her ex, dancer Kevin Federline) and did some truly wacked out things. Shrink-type people said she was crying out for help. Probably true. If she really were suicidal she’d have succeeded.

But I find it interesting how so many stars-since-they-were-children have their childhoods snatched away from them, and make up for it in overdrive later on. How what everyone thinks they would like—fame, fans, riches—can lead to madness, depression, desperation. Interestingly, one of her most well-known comeback songs is “Piece of Me,” and it’s from an album called Blackout.

Critics have criticized Spears’ art for not being deep. That may be true, but I have a feeling she’ll get deeper. When she was younger, she didn’t know much, because she wasn’t allowed to live a life. So she couldn’t have been deep. Her rebellion might have ultimately been the best thing to happen, artistically.

Something has to set childhood stars free. For Britney it was an unlikely bumpy series of events that, after a lot of loss and pain, liberated her—or at least so it seems. For Welsey Shaw, part of it was equally-unlikely, Daniel Ferreira in a Midtown Manhattan Starbucks who lets her discover what real conversation, real people, real experiences and opinions, feel like. The road through fame is filled with twists and turns, and it’s different lengths for everyone.


Gwyneth Paltrow’s second conscious uncoupling

Gwyneth Paltrow

No, she’s not getting another divorce, since she hasn’t remarried (though there are rumors of that on the horizon).

But Gwyneth Paltrow is saying goodbye to GOOP. (Should that be GOOPbye then?)

The 43-year-old lifestyle guru is separating from her brand to spend more time with her spa treatments, home redecorating parties and splurge vacations in Saint-Tropez.

Seriously, no reason was given for her change of strategy. Just a few months ago, in fact, she had stated that she’d basically retired from acting to make GOOP her full-time endeavor.

I’m not sure how this is possible. The website has her initials, or some strange variant thereof, said to be a nickname the actress likes. Then again, she named her daughter after a fruit. Or maybe it was her favorite laptop.

She really believes she got where she did the same way as, say, Claire Danes did. “[My father] said, you know, ‘You are completely on your own.’ He never gave me anything…So, the idea that I am spoiled or that I didn’t work for what I have is just not accurate.” I’m sure no one on the receiving end of her phone calls and auditions knew who her parents were. And the fact that her first substantial appearance to the world was in a film made by her godfather, who also happens to be Steven Spielberg, is complete coincidence.

To me her “lifestyle” choices largely have the ring of celebrity New Age hedonism. Not that that isn’t very popular—everyone today wants to be famous—but she sometimes acts like her website’s mission is to save the world. But she has more followers than I do, so maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.

There’s nothing wrong with splurges. But when GOOP calls a woodburning backyard pizza oven or a facial that costs more than most house payments a “splurge,” when its holiday gift guide would make even George Soros blink at his credit card statement, you have to wonder what world this chick lives in.

The Gwynnie who says she’s got it tougher than most people, and that other moms can keep themselves in the flawless shape she does if they really work at it appears to be rather tone-deaf to the very people who made her rich and famous, spending their weekend crusts to see her Miramax movies at cineplexes in suburban cities she probably despises. Not to say there aren’t media outlets that are very sympathetic to this sort of lifestyle. Their readership is exactly the demo that goes for such very blonde, very New England-y inhabitants as those who seem to come to GP’s soirées. Most such rich people just enjoy this lifestyle quietly, however, and don’t feel the compulsion to rub others’ noses in it.

As for GOOP, “My dream is that one day no one will remember that I had anything to do with it,” she recently said. Amen. But perhaps it wasn’t her dream. Perhaps it was the dream of others, business partners who came on board and possibly suggested the uncoupling. I have no idea if that actually happened, but the about-face stance seems very sudden and, to me, very un-Gwyneth. What’s she going to do with all her free time, Shakespeare in Love 2: Viola Returns from Virginia? (Actually, that could be pretty good.)

I am sad that now I won’t know where to get the best colon-cleanse, but I guess I’ll just have to use Yelp or ask my tony friends.

Meanwhile, join me in saying goodbye to GOOP as we know it.

 


She’s good for it, certainly…

Adele

Seems that even superstars get their credit cards declined.

Pop singer Adele was shopping in San Jose, California the other day when an H&M store would not accept her credit card.

How embarrassing!

But in a way it wasn’t. Reports are that nobody even recognized that it was the pop singer proffering the plastic.

Somehow a celebrity who attracts thousands of screaming fans in concerts and millions of them at home can shop in San Jose and not even be noticed.

Yes, it happens all the time. You could bump elbows with celebrities anywhere and not know it. They are the masters of disguises. After all, they have to get out and about just like the rest of us, and while some of them have “people” who go about their chores for them…well, everybody likes to go into the world and do some shopping themselves sometime.

And that’s exactly what they know how to do…and do in such a way that you won’t even notice.

The takeaway from it to me is how celebrities are, at heart, just people like anyone else. But if you put an ordinary person up on stage in fancy clothes, people don’t get all excited. Why is that? And is it possible to do so?

On second thought, that may be what reality shows have been trying to do…with mixed success.

It’s also interesting that many can avoid the paparazzi even when they pretend they’re being bombarded. True Adele, for as recognized as she is, isn’t, say, in the same league as Jennifer Aniston. But she is certainly a big deal, yet she slipped out of fame’s spotlight surprisingly easily. Makes you wonder if all those “famous people” getting nailed by TMZ every night don’t, well, maybe have their publicists call the photog to tell them their client will be in a certain place at a certain time.

Adele says that although no one knew who she was, she was nonetheless “mortified.”

And she adds that she’d been able to use the card at other stores that day, implying it was all H&M’s fault, a software glitch or something.

But people were surely standing around her in line as this happened—and never knew it was she.

The opening scene in Entertaining Welsey Shaw is like this, with Welsey in line with civilians in a Manhattan Starbucks. I wondered as I wrote it how believable it was that no one else would recognize her, even though she’s hidden behind sunglasses and drab clothes.

Since then I’ve learned it happens every day. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban once came into the coffee shop where I have written much of Entertaining Welsey Shaw. Ironically, that was one of the rare days I wasn’t there. I had to hear about it second-hand from staff. (And all the while I was home I kept thinking, I should head over today; I feel like I’m missing something.)

Back to Adele—maybe try your AmEx at Nordie’s?

They tend to have nicer stuff anyway.

 


Jennifer Aniston, moved to tears, still insecure after all these years

Jennifer Aniston gets emotionalJennifer Aniston again.

It may seem hard to believe that people who always appear to be confident are as doubt-filled as the rest of us. Here is Jennifer Aniston responding with surprising candor to a question asked at a film festival in Italy. She was asked by a young girl if she ever woke up in the morning not knowing who she was. You’d think at this stage in her career, her life, such feelings would be far behind her. But not only are they not, but the very question caused the normally guarded Aniston to tear up.

“We’re all human beings at the end of the day, whether we’re a waitress or a baker or a student or whatever we are; at the end of the day, you kind of hit walls and think, I kind of can’t go any farther. Or this is too much. My heart can’t take it or the pain is too great, or am I good enough?”

She says “there are not enough fingers and toes” in the entire room for her to count how many times that has happened to her.

This in a nutshell is what Entertaining Welsey Shaw is about. Everyone thinks they “know” celebrities because they see them in wildly fantastic situations, being treated like royalty, being touted as living lives no one lives.

Of course there’s money and privilege, but one can have that and still be unhappy. But that aside, it’s clear these things don’t make insecurity disappear. Or unhappiness. Welsey tells Daniel near the end of the novel that she spends most of her nights “in here” (her apartment) alone, with the TV for company. Even if your TV is bigger and your apartment nicer, it can be a lonely life. But no one understands. Which only makes it lonelier. So you’re isolated by the very nature of your loneliness, despite the fact that it’s the same feeling anybody else has. Nah, couldn’t be the same.

Which makes it more astonishing that this girl’s simple question made Jennifer shed tears, and blot her eyes with a tissue. I’m trying to remember the last time I’ve seen a celebrity so unguarded in public and failing. And it happened with a celebrity who’s famous for her detached demeanor, her control, her desire to project herself with every hair in place.

“Am I good enough?” It was impressive that she admitted—to the world: to casting agents and fellow actors and the likes of TMZ—that she’s not secure.

 

 


Jennifer Aniston: Victim or Hypocrite?

Jennifer Aniston

Jen and friends

Jennifer Aniston is tired of people judging her by her body.

Her looks.

Her…well, look at the picture.

The perpetually-in-the-news-even-though-she-hasn’t-done-anything-notable-in-decades actress complained recently about all the body shaming that’s going on in Hollywood. She is among a growing number of stars who are angry because they can’t tuck into that bacon cheeseburger, as they have to keep their bodies perfect for the camera.

“The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty,” says Aniston.

Sounds reasonable. But Piers Morgan is having none of it.

The British-born celebrity sleuth says the former Friends star has made her fortune off her bodacious bod, and should, basically, STFU, because she’s a hypocrite.

He says she’s reaped as much from the objectification as it’s taken from her. He says she’s helped create the attention by posing for dozens of magazine covers over the years that he says have been airbrushed to improve her looks.

Mr. Morgan continues

You may want to dismount from that high horse at this point, Jennifer.

There’s another reason why the media objectify and scrutinise famous women, and why little girls get confused about beauty and body image.

It’s this: female stars like Jennifer Aniston deliberately perpetuate the myth of ‘perfection’ by posing for endless magazine covers which have been airbrushed so much that in some cases the celebrity is virtually unrecognisable.

Not a sympathetic ear, is he?

But he makes a point. The manipulators benefit from the manipulating.

Welsey Shaw certainly knows how to do this, as do all great celebrities. (And yes, there are “great” celebrities and “not so great” celebrities. Some just can’t handle fame, and whatever their talents they disappear in a tear. Others with no great talents seem to be with us forever.)

She would say it’s fair game, that you use all the tools you have at your disposal, and when you’re in your 20s and 30s, your bodacious bod is one. Aniston has probably made enough dough off her flesh to afford her scrumptious $22 million Bel Air mansion. With that as the reward, being airbrushed doesn’t seem like too much of an indignity, does it?

Mag cover

Alas, most of us will never know.

With people feeling humiliated having to go through TSA screenings, perhaps complaining about a little magazine cheesecake seems a bit whiny.

On the other hand, a lot of stars surely get sick of being asked if they’re pregnant every time they put on ten pounds. Welsey Shaw goes through that experience in my novel too. There are constantly rumors she’s pregnant, and she doesn’t like it one bit.

At another point Morgan says, “I’ve been in numerous Beverly Hills restaurants when she’s walked in, and watched as every table descended into an instant frenzy of elbow-nudging and staged whispers. I suspect the same thing happens wherever she dines in the world.”

He seems to miss the point: she can’t control this and probably doesn’t like it.

Like Welsey.

It gets old really quick.

Here’s Aniston’s entire text.

And here’s Morgan’s entire reply.

Does he have a point? Or is his point of view off-base?