Who really pays for the stars on Hollywood’s walk of fame?
CHIAYI CITY, Taiwan– Back in June, I wrote a rather contentious commentary for another publication headlined ”Let’s Stop Pretending Getting a Star on the Walk of Fame Is a Real Honor” in which I spilled the beans on how celebrities today get stars on the famous Walk of Fame in Hollywood. And I asked the national media to start reporting the backstory to the Walk of Fame “awards,” since they are not really awards at all, but paid public relations events. And that’s cool. Paid public relations events have always been a part of Hollywood culture, and the Walk of Fame fits well into that picture, too.
“For more than 50 years, the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been handing out stars to stars, from Joanne Woodward in 1960 — she was the first to land one — to Charlie Chaplin and Dennis Hopper and Bill Maher and Penelope Cruz,” I reported in June. “It’s a time-honored tradition, makes for great photo opps, fits nicely into marketing and PR campaigns, and it’s fun. Everyone in Hollywood knows the backstory to the Walk of Fame, how the events are part of the Hollywood tourism
industry and are paid for by the studios themselves to the tune of $30,000 per star now. The money covers sidewalk maintenance, the award event itself, media outreach and other things.”
“But while the film industry and the news media know that the stars on the Walk of Fame are part of a savvy PR enterprise, and not actual awards or honors themselves, news outlets from AP to Reuters to CNN and AFP continue to play along with the award events and cover the day’s speeches as if it’s a big honor,” I added. “And the news photos that go out on the wire the next day, reprinted in thousands of newspapers and blogs and websites, make it appear as if Star X
actually won a new award. Isn’t it time to stop this hypocrisy on the part of the news media? Isn’t it time for AP and Reuters and CNN to report the real back story behind the awarding of the stars each time the wire photos go worldwide, just as a truth-in-reporting service to readers and fans? It sometimes seems as if the media keeps running photos of celebrities no matter what they do, even if what they do is not so newsworthy at all. When does this news charade stop, and when does better reporting begin?”
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 informign readers that the sidewalk stars cost $30,000 and are paid for by the stars themselves or their studios. An AP editor heard me
out and wrote back in July, noting: “You’ve made an interesting point about how the media reports the Walk of Fame ceremonies. If your facts
are correct, you’re exactly right that we should add that context [that the star ceremony is a paid publicity event]. I’ll pass along to our entertainment editor.”
And today, as I was reading my daily print newspaper about Shakira recently getting her star on the Walk of Fame, 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 US$30,000 in costs and fees.”
I did not write that. The Associated Press is now reporting Walk of Fame stories with this note appended to all articles. Thank you, AP editors in New York and Los Angeles for listening to my lobbying efforts on this issue, and I was very glad to see you are now reporting the truth about the Walk of Fame events. It 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 not only in North America but around the world as
“Isn’t it time for the news media and all media outlets, print and online, to at least print one brief sentence that characterizes the Walk of Fame events as PR and not as actual honors?” I asked in June. And now, a few months later, the wire services have improved the way they report all Walk of Fame events.
Bloom is Taiwan bureau chief and a cyber space traveller for San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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