Thursday, December 7, 2006

Controversy: The New Black

  It’s hard to say when it all began, and perhaps one would have to go all the way back to James Dean, or Marilyn Manson, or Jayne Mansfield.  Perhaps earlier.  But recently, the scourge known as “celebrities behaving badly” has reached epidemic proportions.  Quite frankly, it’s a problem.

  First, there was the Michael Richards/Kramer debacle.  For the benefit of our cave-dwelling readership, Richards was performing his stand-up routine at The Laff Factory in L.A. a few weeks ago, when he claims he was heckled by a couple of African-American members of the audience.  The bigoted tirade that ensued would be enough to make Mel Gibson blush.  More on that later.

  And then there was Britney Spears.  Nothing says “I can be fun too” like appearing sans-underthings, night after night after night.  Last week, Ms. Spears was photographed slithering out of a car with new BFF Paris Hilton as her skirt slid up around her waist, revealing much more than Miss Manners would deem “ladylike.”  And it has happened THREE TIMES in the last week or so.  If Spears is following in her mentor Madonna’s footsteps and trying to hyper-sexualize her image, Britney’s “commando-era” could be a messy, well, mess.  (Remember Madonna’s “Truth or Dare” and “Sex?”)

  Danny DeVito wasn’t going to let the controversy gravy-train leave the station without him.  The pint-sized producer/actor appeared on “The View” last week to plug his new movie, “Deck The Halls,” and was clearly schnockered.  Stumbling onto stage like Otis, Mayberry’s town drunk, DeVito admitted to partying all night with guy-pal George Clooney.  DeVito escaped virtually unscathed, somehow.  Barbara Walters, the show’s “den mother,” later said that he was welcome on the show any time he wanted to come back.  And co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck called DeVito a “fun drunk.”

  Rip Torn, on the other hand, is not.  The 75-year old character actor cursed and berated officers and refused a sobriety test following a January fender-bender, was charged with DUI, and acquitted in October.  Well, the Men In Black star was picked up again after another crash.  Officers again are alleging he was tipsy behind the wheel.

  And last but not least, Gwenyth Paltrow was quoted last week by a Portuguese magazine as saying: “The British are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans.”  The American actress, who now resides in England with hubby/Coldplay-singer Chris Martin, quickly denied the quote, telling People magazine that she feels “so lucky” and “so proud” to be an American.  In an ironic twist of fate, Paltrow’s new movie, “The Good Night,” in which she shares the screen with Danny DeVito, will premiere next month at the Sundance Film Festival.

  According to the first rule of PR, there is no such thing as bad publicity.  If you’re looking for proof, let’s look at the most egregious offense.  Amid the press coverage of Michael Richards’ outburst, sales of the Seinfeld Season 7 set spiked.  So far, it has outsold Season 6 by 75%, and Season 5 by 90%.  It remains to be seen how the other “newsmakers” will fare, but if the trend continues to hold, we could start to see more celebrities doing whatever it takes to get their names in the gossip columns.

 -From Pulse
   December 7, 2006