Author and NPR commentator Halpern (Braving Home) takes a critical look at Americans' infatuation with fame and determines that fame is elusive, desirable—and also possibly addictive. Noting his own unglamorous background as a "parka-wearing, non-fiction writing, generally unslick guy from Buffalo," and boyhood fascination with the show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Halpern then turns his attention to fans, wannabe celebs and the army of journalists, photographers and promoters sustained by the famous. So begins a journey on which the author crashes a cattle call sponsored by the International Modeling and Talent Association, parties with professional celebrity assistants and befriends Rod Stewart's most passionate follower. What Halpern discovers, aided by media experts and psychologists, not surprisingly addresses issues of technology, social power, self-esteem and prestige. The problem is that Halpern, like many of the experts he relies upon, reasons by analogy and ends mostly with speculation. Still, sobering bits come from reading that in 2004 the three major networks' nightly news shows allotted 26 minutes to the conflict in Darfur yet spent 130 minutes covering Martha Stewart's woes. Halpern concludes this engaging study with the obvious: "our obsession with celebrities isn't about them; it's about us and our needs." (Jan.)
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Warning: if you are a devoted viewer of Access Hollywood, or reader of Us Weekly, this may not be the book for you. Halpern, who reports on Hollywood for National Public Radio's All Things Considered, isn't interested in the -smiley-face, upbeat side of fame and fortune. He wants to tell us about the dark side of fame: the schools that teach you how to be a celebrity, the conniving parents behind the scenes, the greed and desperation and humiliation that go hand in hand with being famous. Beyond the celebrities themselves, he's interested in the fame addictions of regular people--the millions who watch American Idol or who seem to care what happens to Paris Hilton or Pamela Anderson. It's not exactly a pleasant book--most of the people in it are either deluded or just unlikable, although there are some shining lights--but the story is illuminating and, in places, shocking. As a cautionary tale, a warning that fame ain't all it's cracked up to be, it well may be indispensable. David Pitt
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Very interesting read about how our society is obsessed with fame, celebrity gossip and all things superficial. I thought it was a very interesting read about all of these things. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Michelle Dunn
A good solid read. Parents living vicariously through their children has been going on since the beginning of time but in this book it suggest that it is at an epidemic proportion. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Charles Caprarella
I like how many different kind of people Halpern talks to, from all over the fame industry. Some of the psychology/physiology behind the phenomenon felt a little forced though.Published 14 months ago by Noodles Bhai
I liked this book and the message it sends. I purchased to additional copies for my sons because I thought it would be beneficial in their particular fields of work.Published 19 months ago by A Reader
This book evokes one question - why do people want to become famous? The author discovers that most people don't want to be famous for doing something important - the fame itself... Read morePublished on August 20, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Loved the book, one of the first books we had to read in my English class. gave us an inner look on glam and hollywoodPublished on May 31, 2013 by Avril
In tandem with a couple of other books on celebrity, I found this book quite helpful. It's basically a journalistic effort, and it puts a face on a lot of the statistics in other... Read morePublished on April 29, 2013 by Dardopete
Review by Jill Williamson
As a former fame junkie, the moment I saw this title, I had to buy this book. Read more
This incoherent mess of a book is from a supposedly intellectual guy who came up with what he thought was a clever idea to sell to editors (why we like fame) and then brought... Read morePublished on June 22, 2011 by Mediaman