Monday, June 29, 2009

The Next Best Way To Become Famous (And The Best Celebrities To Try This On.)

I, like most people, am looking to become famous, and I'm always searching for a good way to do that.

I could go the hard way -- have talent, work my way up the entertainment ladder, get a few lucky breaks on the way, and then one day, stand astride the entertainment industry, a titan of modern pop culture who everyone will look at and adore and love and ask for autographs. (Everyone, that is, except me; I either do not know who celebrities are or I will remember them for some obscure show they did, once, that only I liked.)(Or I'll kind of insult them, but more on that in a minute.)

I could go that route, but that all takes a lot of hard work and time and luck and possibly also sleeping with producers, which even if I was okay with that, I'm pretty sure Sweetie is not. (For the record, I am not okay with sleeping with producers to get ahead. I'm just saying that even if I was, which I'm not, Sweetie would likely not be okay with that.)

So there's got to be another way to become famous. And rich. Those two go hand-in-hand, don't they? They do nowadays, anyway. If you're famous, you'll become rich, just as certainly as if there is leftover pizza in my refrigerator at night, it will be gone by the time I get up in the morning and The Boy's room will smell like pizza. Pizza which should have been mine. Riches follow fame like that.

So I need to get famous, after which I'll be rich, and since the whole actual talent, etc., route is too hard (and possibly Sweetie-disapproved), there's got to be another way to achieve fame and then riches (although I'm not averse to doing it the other way around. I'll take money and then fame.) (Matter of fact, I'll just take the money. You can have the fame.)(Except I need the fame to get the money, probably, so hands off my fame.)

Reality shows are out. Nobody has ever become rich or famous as a result of a reality show, if you don't count Lauren Conrad making $75,000 per episode and becoming a published author (writing a book that should, by all rights, have been titled "This is Officially The Day Literature Was Killed") and if you don't count all the other Hills spinoff characters and if you don't count Nick Lachey, and if you don't count Kate (she's a one-name person now, right? Sorry, all you other Kates, there's just the one Kate now), and if you don't count Susan Boyle, who reportedly is making 8,000 "pounds" per minute to sing. (In real money, that's... I don't know, but it's enough to buy a lot of cat food for her cat, Pebbles.)

Aside from those people, nobody is making money off reality TV or becoming famous, so reality TV is out as a career. Besides, becoming famous on reality TV might also make me have to be married to Kate, or be vacuous, idiotic and docile, or do other things that I'm not prepared to do, like spend time with Will Ferrell in the wilderness.

And, also, each of those takes time, too, and I would kind of like my fame (and money) now.

Which is why I've hit on a third route, and one I am uniquely qualified to use as a springboard or catapult into the Fame-And-Money-OSphere.

No, not a sex tape.

Not that I've ruled that out... but... no, actually, I have ruled it out.

My method is both quicker than having talent and less painful (for me) than reality TV and less painful (for you) than a sex tape.

My method is this: Bump into a celebrity and turn that embarrassing encounter into fame -- and then money.

Think about it. It's genius. We are so celebrity-obsessed these days that we make annoying people into celebrities just to bring them back down to our level, and at the same time, we take people who have only the most tangential connection to fame and jump them up to celebrity status, if only for a short while. (Then we bring them back down again.)

That celebrity obsession, combined with our on-again/off-again love of hidden-camera type shows that embarrass people -- witness the popularity (?) of the Bruno movie, which is essentially just a bunch of Borat outtakes only now with a different offensive stereotype -- paves the way for what I predict will be the next wave of fame: People Who Bump Into Celebrities And Embarrass Themselves and the Celebrity And Then Turn That Into Fame.

The groundwork is already there for this type of fame -- people are already obsessed with the once-famous or non-famous, and they're becoming obsessed with the people who bump into the non-famous and once-famous -- as evidenced by the coverage of Woody Harrelson's zombie-encounter, or by Samantha Ronson's career, period.

What's missing is people turning this new kind of fame into money. The Zombie Cameraman, for example, filed a police complaint, and will probably sue, but police complaints and suing don't turn into money, not any time soon. (And suing Woody Harrelson? What'll that get you, besides some coupons for Taco Bell printed on his homemade hemp paper?)

That's where I come in. I have a long history both of embarrassing myself in front of celebrities, and of novel ideas for making money, and I'm combining them now so that I can show you how I can make money just by bumping into famous people. (Feel free to use my methods, but make sure that you let me become famous, first.)

My expertise in this area arises from several celebrity encounters I've already had:

-- I met Harry Connick, Jr., once, at my health club, and asked him for his autograph. I knew he was in town for a concert, and while I was a fan, I wasn't enough of a fan to go see him in concert. Still, I wanted his autograph. So, I asked him for his autograph and only then realized I didn't have a pen. Or paper. Then, to compound things, I tried to cover up my faux pas by saying "I'm looking forward to seeing your concert tonight." Only later did I learn that he'd played the night before.

-- I met Brian Ritchie, the bassist for one of my favorite bands ever, the Violent Femmes. I even bought him a beer, and then asked him when the band was coming out with a new album, as it had been a while. "Soon," he said. "These things take time. Those songs aren't easy to write."

"Really?" I said, incredulously.

In my defense, their songs did sound pretty easy to write. Also, I was kind of drunk.

-- Finally, I once met University of Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan, who is probably only a "celebrity" in Madison, Wisconsin, (but I'll count him because how many celebrities do you actually meet?)( Answer: 5 ), and asked him for his autograph -- doing so while wearing a "North Carolina" t-shirt, which wouldn't have been so bad except that the UW had just lost to North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. ("You've got a lot of nerve," he told me -- but he signed. Score!)

With that kind of background, I figure I can easily bump into and embarrass celebrities, and myself -- and the culture is right to turn that fleeting contact into fame and/or money. Here's how I'll do it with these test subjects in movies, television, literature, and rock'and'roll.

Movie Celebrity: Billy Bob Thornton.

Why He's A Good One To Choose: Billy Bob hasn't had a hit movie since... does Armageddon count? Or Bad Santa? Which came first, anyway? It doesn't really matter, since neither of those were made this century. Were they?

Where I'd Likely Bump Into Him: Leaving a run-down radio station somewhere in Nebraska or a similar Godforsaken locale, as he tries to promote his "band" on the only radio shows that will listen to him.

How I'd Try To Embarrass Him: The easiest route? Mention to him that you loved his acting. It worked for that DJ, who just didn't have the guts to push it far enough that he could make some fame/money off of it. I'd try this: Say he's a better actor than singer... but that even so, he still wasn't as good as Walter Matthau in that one movie.

How I'd Actually Embarrass Myself: In mentioning Walter Matthau, I would be thinking of Jack Lemmon in The Odd Couple. And I would assume I was talking to Joaquin Phoenix.

The Likely Result: Billy Bob punches me, then writes a song about the experience. I collect royalties for use of my name in the song and go on to host "American Top 40" once Ryan Seacrest returns to his home dimension after someone says his name backwards.

Television Celebrity:
Charlie Sheen.

Why He'd Be A Good One To Choose: Charlie Sheen just emanates fame. He must produce it biologically or something. He certainly hasn't done anything worth us keeping our eyes on him, unless you count making out with that big-nosed girl before she was a small-nosed girl, in Ferris Bueller's Day Off -- a role that was the pinnacle of his career. Sure, he's been in Platoon and... um... other movies that I'm sure I'd remember if I wasn't too lazy to google them, but can playing... um... that one guy in Platoon, and probably other characters, be deserving of something like 3 decades of fame? No way. And yet, there he is, still being famous and still on TV and still being rich, and also looking pretty young, too.

So it's either deal with the Devil (which in Charlie Sheen's case is actually somewhat likely) or he's like a fame factory and my bumping into him and embarrassing him and me could only result in my becoming famous (and rich), just like Denise Richards did, only I don't have to have sex with Charlie. Hopefully. (Fingers crossed.)

Where I'd Likely Bump Into Him: It would have to be LA, wouldn't it? Charlie Sheen seems like the kind of guy who hasn't left LA since he got there. Except maybe to go to Las Vegas. But running into him in Vegas would mean going to those high class strip joints, and Sweetie's not likely to approve of that, either. So LA it is: he's got to go to the grocery store, or liquor store, sometime, right?

How I'd Try To Embarrass Him: I've got this all planned out. I'd go up to him and say "You're Emilio Estevez, right?" And he'd say "No, I'm Charlie Sheen," and I'd say, "Oh, yeah, that's right. Hey, you were great in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. What have you been doing since then?"

How I'd Actually Embarrass Myself: It would, in fact, be Emilio Estevez that I'd be talking to.

The Likely Result: Assuming Emilio admits it's him, then I star in The Mighty Ducks Return: Electric Duckaloo. If he sticks with pretending he's Charlie, then in mere minutes we are in a pitch meeting for Ferris Bueller's Next Day Off.

(Note: I've already got the plot worked out. Here's what happens: Ferris is now all grown up, and he's got a son. [See the irony already? Sweet.] The son wants desperately to get into an Ivy League school and sets up an interview with the dean, one his Dad -- Grown-Up Ferris-- is to attend. But on the day in question, Grown-Up Ferris decides to take his son and show him the benefits of just slacking off, and drives away from the interview, determined to make his son have fun instead of taking life so seriously. Then Junior Ferris has to spend the day trying to trick his dad into the interview, while Senior Ferris is trying to trick his son into having a good time. In the end, they attend the interview as scheduled, and both learn a valuable lesson.) Bonus: The interviewer turns out to be Charlie Sheen's character from the first movie. This thing will write itself.

Literature Celebrity:
Um...let me think... Are there any celebrity writers? You're right. There's not. Nobody reads anymore. And I can prove it: I have it on good authority that John Grisham's last book was simply a reprint of the first chapter from The Firm with the main character's name changed to Rex Nordner, followed by 350 blank pages. (Note: It was optioned into a movie the moment it hit the stands.)

Let's move on...

Rock and Roll Celebrity:

Why He'd Be A Good One To Choose: Sting needs money. He's tried everything since The Police ended -- he tried being a poet and an earnest musician and being an actor and even tried being mentioned on Friends, but nothing worked out, resulting in Sting biting the bullet and reforming The Police for an ill-advised, and even iller-received, reunion tour that for all I know might still be going on.

Where I'd Likely Bump Into Him: Assuming that tour is still going on, then I'll find him at the Retro Lounge of the Holiday Inn on I-94 outside of Milwaukee. The Police will be opening for a Vic Damone impersonator.

If it's not still going on, then he'll probably be working at a sub sandwich shop in Leeds.

How I'd Try To Embarrass Him: Order a sandwich. Say, "Hey, didn't you used to be Sting?"

How I'd Actually Embarrass Myself: He still is Sting, you idiot. Also, I didn't want mustard on the sandwich.

The Likely Result: It's kind of hard to see how this one leads to fame or riches, actually. But the sandwich would probably be okay, even with the mustard.

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