Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America's Favorite Addiction

Jake Halpern, Author . Houghton Mifflin $23 (256p) ISBN 978-0-618-45369-6

Author and NPR commentator Halpern (Braving Home ) 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, non-fiction 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. The problem is that Halpern, like many of the experts he relies upon, reasons by analogy and ends mostly with speculation. Still, 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." (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/30/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Paperback - 226 pages - 978-0-618-91871-3
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