Saturday, June 09, 2007


I was locked in an edit suite Friday afternoon and missed the whole Paris Hilton affair. But I had the misfortune of catching the news last night, so I got to see the shots of her distraught face as she was ferried back to jail.

I don't know Paris Hilton. But working in this business I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of young women like her. Over the years, they've brought one truth home to me. Whatever issues they're toting around, the rest of us are carrying something a whole lot bigger and far more ugly.

Better minds than mine will examine why we're drawn to witness their destruction, where the fascination comes from and what it says about us and our society. A female friend last night equated the mass coverage with the thousand men in Iraq who cell phone recorded the public stoning of a 17 year old girl and y'know, that doesn't seem too much of a stretch.

To some extent, I think the public can be let off the hook for most of this. The ones responsible are those of us who work in the media.

A few years ago, I worked with a not-untalented actress who was moving to LA and wanted to find an agent. I gave her a list of people I thought could help her. She called a month or so later, now settled in Hollywood but not sounding too happy. An agent on my list had agreed to sign her -- but only if she gave him a blowjob first.

That agent may be discovering, on reading this, why I stopped taking his calls or hiring his clients. He and his stable were (and are) also not untalented. But life's too short to co-sign his kind of bullshit.

Actresses have always been used and abused by men in positions of power. In some ways, it kind of goes with the territory. I hope that doesn't sound too callous. What I mean is -- don't get overly teary-eyed. There are not a lot of "Damsels in Distress" here. These are big girls capable of drawing their own lines in the sand.

At least they were when it was only about power and sex.

But the paparazzi and the "all-news" networks and the celebrity sniffers of "Access Hollywood", and "E!Talk" have changed the landscape. The meltdowns of Lindsay Lohan and Brittney Spears under their relentless pummeling shouldn't surprise anyone.

No matter her crimes, even Paris Hilton does not deserve this soul-shredding.

This week, Ken Levine's excellent blog alerted me to the debut of Paris' new season of "The Simple Life" with this review. I honestly thought Ken was off on one of his inspired extrapolations of the facts. But he wasn't.

The Pilot for the new season does indeed feature Paris and her sidekick Nicole Ritchie giving enemas to people at Fat Camp and assisting with their resulting bowel movements. If you're so inclined the footage is right here and you've been suitably warned.

A new low for television? Just flat off the chart tasteless? Sure. But get used to it, because those nice people at CanWest/Global will be simulcasting this and much more like it on their newly branded "E! Canada" channel.

When I watched the show, a small piece of my heart broke for Paris Hilton. I got a brief insight into what she's going through. And I have to tell you, if my only option was doing a show like this, I'd be drinking and driving too. As well as praying the first person I hit was the network executive who green-lit it to begin with.

I'm certain the new Canadian E! Channel will also provide the ongoing career/personal suicide watches of Paris and all their other "Reality"/Brat Pack/Hollywood faves. As one of my spiritual touchstones once cautioned -- "The darkest hearts cover themselves in the whitest robes" and it seems CanWest has learned well from CTV's "Etalk Daily" example.

You really can get away with almost any level of sleaze as long as you cover it with the smiling face of a Prime Minister's son and a hot Asian chic. I'm not sure Izzy Asper intended that his sons become pimps, but that seems to be where they're headed.

In closing, I have to say that I've never really believed anybody in this business gives the public what it wants. I think we often offer what we know they can be fed, or what they'll swallow. Like McDonald's, they know this stuff has little nutritional value, but it's quick and it's filling, doesn't cost much, sometimes comes with a toy, and lets them get on to something else right away -- so what the hell...

But we're the guys making it, and we know how it's made, what it really costs and perhaps, most important, what's left over when we're done.

This final clip is a monologue by Craig Ferguson. It's a few months old and has been posted in many places before. It's about what's wrong with us -- all of us -- but the media in particular.

Please take the words to heart. Paris Hilton's fate depends on it.


Matt said...

Thanks, Jim.

I've been trying to make this point to friends for the last 24 hours, but I haven't been able to find the right words.

You summed it up beautifully.

Callaghan said...

Very well put Jim.

And thanks for the clip....hadn't seen it before. I already respected Ferguson, but he just got elevated in my eyes.

Anonymous said...

Great post.