MAD DOG: Fame! Now There's a High Maintenance Career
There's something about fame and notoriety that makes a person want to, well, use it. This isn't exactly a new concept, it's been going on since Adam parlayed being booted out of the Garden of Eden into a chain of barbecued rib stands.Nowhere does this happen more than in Hollywood, where actors love to cash in -- I mean, use -- their fame. They use it to sell books. They use it to sell perfume. Some even lapse and use it for good by raising money for charities. Usually they get over it. Then there are those who use their fame for political purposes, thinking that just because they played a scientist in a movie of the week they should testify before a congressional committee on how wearing an aluminum foil helmet can keep the electromagnetic waves from leaking out of a cell phone and into your brain. (Duh!)Lots of actors have done this. Not wear aluminum foil helmets like they should, but rather appear before Congress. And lest you doubt that this is something that should be stopped, please cut out the next sentence and tack it to the wall where you can look at it daily:"Smoking kills, and if you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life." -- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become a spokesperson for a federal anti-smoking campaign. It doesn't take a genius to see that the presence of a celebrity won't cure the world's ills. According to Time, when Richard Gere recently visited a refugee camp filled with people who fled the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, Hataxhe Ajeti, a refugee, saw him and said, "Who is this coming? Oh, a famous actor. Too bad. What I need is a doctor."This points up just how little people know about what's good for them. All along Ajeti thought she needed medical care. It turns out what she really needed was a video copy of The Jackal subtitled in Albanian. She'll learn.Actors aren't the only ones guilty of using their fame. Anyone who's anyone is doing it, and these days it doesn't take much. Paula Jones has a psychic hotline. Cifford Irving is trying to peddle his admittedly made-up Howard Hughes interviews. And Monica Lewinsky turned a few minutes on her knees into a book deal and a slot on Saturday Night Live. Sure the book wound up in the half-price bin after only two and a half months, but so what? Her advance was more than enough to let her dump those stylish berets and fill her hat rack with baseball caps. Once you have a taste of it, fame is hard to let go. No sooner did Amy Fisher, "The Long Island Lolita", get out of jail for shooting Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the head then there was a proposal circulating around Hollywood to televise her reunion with Joey and his wife.You have to feel sorry for them. Amy's been out of the limelight for seven years while she was locked up. Joey's spent that time valiantly trying to make a career out of being a professional guest on Howard Stern. And Mary Jo's been, well, who knows where she's been. So someone, probably the brain trust which came up with the idea for Desmond Pfeiffer, realized that what they -- I mean we -- need is to see them all get back together. Live. On TV. Without guns this time!The question isn't so much whether we do or don't need to see this -- something tells me we will -- the question is, does this belong on Oprah, where they'll reconcile, hug, and cry a lot, or on the Jerry Springer Show under the name "Guys, the Jailbait they Screwed, and Their Forgiving Wives With A Bullet Still Lodged in Their Head"where they'll fight while the audience chants, "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!"? I vote we give it to Geraldo Rivera. After all, this could be even bigger than when he opened Al Capone's vault -- this time we'll be able to stare at the TV and see three empty, vacuous, cobweb-filled spaces.Trying to keep your name in the public's mind isn't easy. It takes a lot of hard work. You have to make sure people not only remember it, but remember it the way you want them to. George Bush (the trying-to-be-president one, not the I-wish-I-did-something-while-I-was-president one) is doing his best to keep his good name clean. To help do that, he's gone and bought up over 60 domain names so people can't have web sites with addresses like bushsucks.com and bushbites.com. Proctor & Gamble, never ones to be outdone by a politician trying to ride on his father's coattails, is doing the same thing to stop animal rights activists who claim the company's new pet deodorizer, Febreze, is dangerous to the animals. They've gone and snapped up a pile of domain names including febrezekillspets.com, febrezesucks.com, and ihateproctorandgamble.com. This is definitely misguided energy. Wouldn't they have made much better use of their time and money trying to come up with a product name that didn't sound like a feminine deodorant spray?So aside from snapping up negative domain names, is there anything else a famous person can do to insure that they stay famous? Well, yes. They can go on every talk show imaginable. They can hire a publicist to get them on the cover of magazine after magazine. They could even do quality work. Nah, that would be asking a bit much.Maybe what they need then is fame insurance. After all, they already insure their body parts -- leaving one to wonder whether Pamela Anderson Lee filed a claim against her insurance company for loss of assets or vice versa -- so why not their fame itself?They could try contacting Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson, an insurance company in England with a name longer than the Magna Carta which specializes in insuring the, uh, unusual. This is the company that's sold 40,000 Alien All Risk policies covering loses in the event the policyholders are abducted, eaten, or have microchips implanted by aliens. This is the company that's insured over 15,000 women against having a virgin birth at the millennium (which points out just how misguided some people can be -- what better way to bring instant fame, fortune, book deals, and a slot on Saturday Night Live than to mother the new Messiah?). And this is the company that's issued policies to protect against becoming a werewolf, a house being haunted, and your dying or being injured by ghosts.So why not insure stars against lost fame? This way the famous could sit back in their pool, sip another jalapeño-cranberry vodka martini, and not have to do icky things like hire someone to ghostwrite another health and beauty book, schedule an appearance before Congress, or embarrass all of us by appearing on Hollywood Squares. That would do more to help our quality of life than anything.