Jewish World Review May 30, 2007 / 13 Sivan, 5767
A celebrity answer is no answer at all
By Barry Koltnow
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Celebrities are always complaining that there are no books to read or classes to attend that would teach them how to deal with fame.
And that's why I created Barry's University of Fame.
Nestled in the foothills of the spacious Fatty Arbuckle National Park, we offer a complete schedule of college-level classes leading to undergraduate and advanced degrees. For a complete list of classes at the University of Fame, please click on blogs.ocregister.com/barry.
This is not the type of institution of higher learning that is so steeped in tradition that it cannot adjust to new trends and practices. In fact, there are new classes added on a regular basis to keep up with the ever-changing celebrity landscape.
For instance, in "Answering Inappropriate Questions 101," students learn how to deal with the latest wrinkle in the treatment of celebrities by the media.
As recent as a decade ago, a celebrity could rest assured that he or she could make it through an entire career without being required to answer a single difficult question. It never got tougher than "Why did you pick this role?" or "Were you excited to win an Oscar?"
Then, as the world changed, the nature of the questions changed. And the more personal troubles the celebrity experienced, the more difficult the questioning got.
But with enough training by a team of handlers, a celebrity could learn how to deflect the really tough questions.
A typical exchange might go something like this:
JOURNALIST: "Are you sorry that you went into a drunken rage and blamed bald people for starting all the wars in history?"
CELEBRITY: "Yes, I am. And when I get out of rehab, I plan to meet with bald people of all persuasions to make amends."
But something happened in the past year, and celebrity handlers have been slow to react. Therefore, the faculty at the University of Fame realized that this disturbing new trend in celebrity questioning needed to be addressed.
The trend, practiced almost exclusively by television reporters from entertainment news programs such as "Entertainment Tonight," "Access Hollywood" and "Extra," is to ask celebrities questions that have nothing to do with them.
You have no idea how upsetting it is for some celebrities to be asked about someone else. When one becomes a celebrity, one wants only to talk about oneself. That, in a nutshell, is the essence of celebrity.
Years ago, it would have been considered impolite or even rude to ask a celebrity about another celebrity. Not anymore. It seems as if these crack reporters will take any opportunity to obtain a sound bite.
And the questions don't even have to be about other celebrities. I have even heard Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan questioned about important news events. Yes, these reporters have actually made me feel sorry for some of these celebrities, and that is not an emotion I want to feel.
In "Answering Inappropriate Questions 101," students will learn how to deal with subjects of racism, war and alcohol abuse.
As a disclaimer, the university stipulates that it will not teach celebrities how to give real answers to these difficult questions, but rather how to give nonanswers to the questions. And, truth be told, who among us are really looking to these celebrities for real answers to real-world questions?
We don't have to space to list the entire class curriculum, but here are a few examples of the kinds of nonanswers that celebrities/students will learn in this class.
When a media person asks for your reaction to the despicable telephone message left by Alec Baldwin for his daughter, you respond this way: "I'm sure there are two sides to every story (this is a hedge in case you are offered a future guest shot on "30 Rock"), but my heart (proving you actually have a heart) goes out to the child in this case (people love people who love children)."
For that pesky question about the embarrassing David Hasselhoff drunk video, here's what our fine instructors offer: "It's an obvious cry for help and I hope Mr. Hasselhoff (this distances you from the offender and shows that you don't know him or anyone as old as him) gets the help that he needs."
Our final example today is the Paris Hilton question. Do you express sympathy with her, which could turn off the law-and-order crowd, or do you get tough and risk not getting invited to the "Welcome home, Paris" party that will surely be held in a hip Las Vegas nightclub upon her return from the slammer?
"Oh, that's a terrible situation," our professors suggest, which doesn't really answer whether you think drinking and driving with a suspended license is terrible, or throwing Paris in jail for 45 days is terrible.
It's the perfect celebrity answer - a nonanswer.
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© 2007, The Orange County Register; Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.