Literature Program

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Co-sponsored/co-presented by:
Talking Leaves & Hallwalls

Jake Halpern

Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America's Favorite Addiction Reading & Book Signing

Presented at:
Asbury Hall, Babeville

"In his new book, NPR commentator and author Halpern (Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, & Other Extreme Locales) 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, nonfiction 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. …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.'" (Publishers Weekly).

"Halpern, who reports on Hollywood for NPR'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 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, Booklist).

Some publications related to this event:
January, 2007 - 2007