Hollywood Walk of Fame: The High Price of Being Walked On

It's amusing to see that the way Hollywood chooses to award those individuals that have worked hard to achieve something in their chosen entertainment careers is by allowing tourists to walk on their names on a daily basis.

As of this writing, there are currently 2,323 stars dotting the sidewalks of Hollywood blvd. and Vine St. The pink terrazzo landmarks have become a globally recognized symbol of Hollywood, with millions of tourists flocking to the big city every year to walk its' famous boulevards taking snapshots of the names embossed onto them.

But like everything else in Hollywood, the awarding of the stars goes not necessarily to those who deserve it, only to those who pay for it.

John Tesh has one. Judge Judy has one. The Simpsons have one.
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen have one. Even Godzilla has one.

And yet, Al Pacino, Francis Ford Coppola, and Robert Redford do not. What gives?

Created originally as a way to give Hollywood a face lift, The first star was laid in 1960 for Joanne Woodward. The most recent one going to LA Lakers owner Jerry Buss on Oct 30.

The stars are awarded by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. A committee of five - headed by Hollywood's longtime "honorary mayor" Johnny Grant - dig through the 300 or so applications and choose a couple dozen each year to award.

The stars are usually awarded to celebrities for their contributions to the entertainment industry. Yet in reality, all it takes is about $15,000 (and possibly a bribe to Grant) to be emblazoned in the terrazzo. There is no coincidence to the recent trend of celebrities getting their stars on or around the same time they have a major motion picture coming out. The studios have paid for the publicity and they will get it.

Walk of Fame director of publicity Ana Martinez-Holler said in an interview with Fox news in 2003 that the $15,000, goes toward the removal of the old, blank star, the installation of the new one with the entertainer's name, security, publicity and staging costs, and then $5,000 set aside for maintenance and repair.

Anderson Jones, movie columnist for E! Online summed it up perfectly:
"Hollywood used to be run by writers, directors and creators. Now Hollywood is run by the marketing department."

Life and Style Weekly recently ran an article that during the recent event honoring Jerry Buss, Paris Hilton was overheard whining that she should receive a star:

"I don't even know half these people," she said, according to the eyewitness. "And like most of them are dead. I should totally have a star. I deserve one. I'm one of the most famous people on earth!"

Should Paris get a star simply because she is rich and wants it? If this happens, the walk of fame will lose what little credibility it has left.

But we're sure it won't stop the throngs of tourists from walking into each other as they gawk at the sidewalk - which is actually pretty good entertainment on a Saturday in the Summer.

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