With their reappearance at the 2013 Grammys, some are seeing what I saw three years ago. Since this article explored this couple and Whitney Houston prior to her passing, I’ve decided to feature it again. Here it is if you missed it the first time:
Would you be surprised to see that headline? It seems lately that celebrities resort to the most ridiculous tactics to promote their new films and albums. With competition for news being what it is, the more sensational and outrageous a story hook, the more likely it will find its place on national news shows and in national magazines.
Whitney Houston goes on Oprah with an “exclusive interview” in which she talks about her drug addiction and leaving Bobby Brown. “Oh the horror of our marriage and what was going on behind the scenes,” she said crying, sobbing… “by the way, I have a new album born of my pain. May I sing you a few songs?” And to number one it goes. And since then? Gone—probably back to Bobby, and with her newly minted millions from her album sales… probably crack, too.
Phil Collins (talk about a blast from the past—has he even done anything since the Tarzan Soundtrack?) suddenly appears in Rolling Stone with a shotgun, pick axe, machete, hunting knife and various other antique farm implements laid out on the Persian rug beneath him, looking more like Courage the Cowardly Dog’s owner than a rock god.
“I’ve had thoughts of su-su-suicide and I’m tired of all the people talking about me.” (What people? Didn’t Phil die years ago?) “By the way, I have a new album coming out. It may be my last. You never know. Better go get it.” Oh, that explains it. Reminds me a lyric from Prince’s Pop Life:
What’s the matter with your life?
Is the poverty bringing you down?
Did the mailman jerk you around?
Did he put your million dollar check in someone else’s box? Tell me.
“No. I just have an album to sell and talking about suicidal thoughts and paranormal activity seemed the most effective way to relate to this new generation.”
Tyler Perry was next. “I was abused, Oprah! Sexually so. When only a boy…” as the tears stream down his cheeks. “And that’s what gave me the sensitivity to do For Colored Girls… because…well, I was abused just like colored girls who considered suicide when the rainbow wasn’t enough. I lived it myself. And, yes, it will be in theaters this week packed with all the emotion you see right here before you.”
Some have stories. Others truly live it out. Some seem such a mess that it’s hard to figure out how they even manage to complete any projects at all. I imagine that Lindsay Lohan’s next project is going to be huge. Brittany Spears’ certainly was. It seemed she was such a wreck before her album came out—shaving her head allegedly over her breakup with Kevin Federline—in and out of various clinics. But that didn’t stop her from putting together one of the best albums of her life. It dropped and everything is great now. Wow. Grammy? VH1 Award? Sure. Thanks. I’m much better. See you next year.
What’s this tell you about Hollywood? Promotion is part of the game. Even Harrison Ford has to drag his dust-farting ass out to worship at the altar of Letterman, Leno, Stewart and Fallon. Harrison can’t even remember what film he was in or what it was about, but he’s there—looking like Han Solo’s grandpappy Dutch Blitz. “Hello everyone. Yes, I’m the guy who played that guy you liked in that movie 25-35 years ago. Hello! Please go see my next movie.” It’s all part of the sell.
Perhaps the one that actually made me laugh was Sting. I caught him on Jon Stewart looking rather annoyed at having to hustle his new CD on TV. But there he was. “I like doing new things,” he said. “I can’t stand playing the same songs year after year—I need to mix it up. That’s why I released this new album with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.” (He even joked of it being reminiscent of the parody rock band movie This is Spinal Tap where one of the band members thinks his stuff is good enough to have the acoustic versions performed by the London Phil.) And what was the new thing he did with the Philharmonic that he wanted us to run out and buy? The Muzak version of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and every other song he did 30 years ago and has been doing “year after year” since. I could have sworn I heard that version in an elevator 25 years ago. Nonetheless, sell that “original” album Sting.
Remember it’s called Show “Business” and no matter how big a star you are, you can never stop being a hustler in Hollywood.
PS. Since this article, we mourned the loss of Whitney Houston who, sadly, apparently did return to drugs. What a tragedy that all the people around her could not, or did not, help her. And what a commentary on the industry.
Update 3/7/2013: (The 2nd edition of What I Wish I Knew Before I Moved to Hollywood available now exclusively on Kindle for only $4.99. Get yours now. Click here. Kindle e-books can be read on I-phone, I-pod, I-pad, Android, Mac and PC with the free Kindle App.)