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 V.14 No.17 | April 28 - May 4, 2005 

Idiot Box

Idle Idolatry

Ryan Seacrest and the Walk of Fame

There are those Biblical scholars, conspiracy theorists and religious “fringe” figures who comb through the Bible Code, the Da Vinci Code or whatever for subtle clues to our planet's impending future. I say they're wasting their time. There's no need to strain your eyes and your imagination looking for signs of the apocalypse in ancient history. All you need to do is keep your eyes peeled to popular culture. Take, for example, this chilling tidbit ripped right from the pages of People magazine: Last week, “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest was given his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. ... People, if there's a clearer sign of the our culture's doom, I don't know what it could be.

“American Idol” judge Simon Cowell, in attendance at the star's unveiling alongside Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, was asked to sum up Seacrest's honor. With overpracticed grumpiness, he mirrored the sentiments of many people across the country and dubbed it “ill-deserved.” Ostensibly, Seacrest's honor was not merely for reading the voting phone numbers off cue cards each week on “American Idol.” It was also for his distinguished “15-year career” in radio. (Which, for those mathematically minded fans in the audience, would mean the 30-year-old Seacrest was a wage-earner at 15.)

Seeing the grinning, freakishly tanned Seacrest being enshrined alongside such show biz legends as Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe got me thinking, however. What exactly goes into putting someone on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

First of all, you have to be nominated. Someone (other than you) has to write in and recommend you. Every June, a five-person committee (one person for each category: movies, television, radio, recording and live theater) meets and sifts through the multiple nominations. The lucky few are then sent along to the Chamber of Commerce. If the Chamber approves, the nominees are bumped to the Board of Public Works. (The stars are, after all, imbedded in a public sidewalk.) After that, it's on to final approval from the City Council of Los Angeles itself. Seems like a pretty lengthy set of checks and balances.

Once you've been approved, your star has to be paid for. The $15,000 cost of the ceremony, the installation and the maintenance is usually picked up by movie studios or fan clubs. And not all stars have accepted the honor. Julia Roberts and Clint Eastwood are among those who have turned down their chance to be stepped on.

Let's not kid ourselves. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is hardly akin to a Nobel Peace Prize. It's a tourist attraction for the city of Los Angeles. And it's not like the Walk is above going with trendy stars who will soon be lost to the sands of time. Renée Adorée, Heather Angel, Klaus Landsberg, Craighton Hale and Ignacy Paderewski aren't exactly household names these days. Heck, you don't even have to be human. Lassie, Donald Duck and Godzilla are among the nonhuman honorees. ... Still, in my book, Ryan Seacrest is no Ignacy Paderewski.

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