Fame is elusive for most of us. Thankfully. Most people don’t really want to be famous. The idea is seductive. The red carpet walks, the people rushing us to get an autograph, the swag bags of goodies, the piles of money that are thrown in the face of the famous. These are all the types of bait that make fame attractive.
It is the driving force behind those horrid reality TV shows that have taken over the airwaves and cable television. The mindless pursuit of fame, glory and gold is what causes so many production companies to make shows like “Teen Mom” which inform an American public of the childish, immature and dangerous exploits of a child raising a child.
I believe the most famous and best known of the reality shows is “COPS,” produced by Barbour-Langley Productions right here in Santa Monica. The show has produced over 1,000 episodes of regular Americans being arrested, detained, or some other interaction with various police departments around the country.
While few people would wish to appear on “COPS” on the wrong side of the law, the show sparked a revolution in television viewing and production, that in so many ways was indicative of the American mindset. Get famous, get rich and do it quickly.
But the reality of reality television is that most of it is very boring. The shows are “unscripted,” but that’s not to say there isn’t a story line created. There has to be some input from creative folks, otherwise most of the participants would be too dull to watch. Fights and conflicts are sparked to create interest because, frankly most of life is just not as exciting as the advertisers who drive the need for these shows would have us believe.
Living in Santa Monica we have the opportunity to frequently come face to face with fame and celebrity. I see The Rock at one of my gyms, and several other actors of note at the Loews Hotel where I go to escape the strains of the day.
In this town, you can be buying pet food at Centinela Pet and Feed and have a well known television actress and director in front of you in line. It is the blessing and the curse of living here. We get to rub against the fame and celebrity that the rest of America sees on the “small screen.” This past weekend was the Independent Spirit Awards and the Oscars. So all over town were press people and actors and actresses getting ready with facials, hair care, nail and last minute details on their outfits.
The giant tents were erected in the parking lot, and from the Santa Monica Pier as I was walking my dog, I could see the activity. The hundreds of behind the scenes staffers who make it all look so glamorous and special.
And that too is a blessing and a curse for us. Because we get to see behind the scenes, we know that the majority of the time, celebrities are actually just living their lives. I have several celebrity clients who have come to me with their divorces or their child custody battles. I’ve represented everyone from a Playboy centerfold to A-list actors and rock stars.
I’ve showered at my gyms with character actors, lead actors and musicians. I’ve taken calls from a big time director late on a Sunday night who was scared that their children were going to be taken away from them by an enraged ex-wife. Hearing the fear in his voice is an odd counterpoint to his strength and forcefulness on set.
These types of interactions, the most mundane and commonplace part of life that we all deal with, are the stuff that dreams are not made of. Seeing a movie star covered in sweat, who makes an effort to be a good gym citizen by cleaning up after himself, reminds me that the glossy cover shots that have been photoshopped to perfection are not the reality.
That might be the blessing actually, the fact that we get to see just how fake, manufactured and manicured the images are. That way we don’t have to buy into the obsession for a false sense of fame and celebrity. We don’t have to become star struck and fawn all over them as if they were gods, or what is worse, disenchanted when a famous person is caught buying dog kibble and frozen pizza on a Friday night.
David Pisarra is a divorce attorney who specializes in father’s rights and men’s issues with the firm of Pisarra & Grist in Santa Monica. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969.