Stop the presses! Did you hear? Hollywood A-listers Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are moving to a town near you!
I heard they were spotted house hunting and window shopping in New Canaan.
My sister’s friend spotted them buying ice cream in Ridgefield!
My manicurist’s fourth cousin once removed saw Blake coming out of the public restroom at a Starbucks in Bedford.
Okay, that last one is stretching it a bit, and you can tell I made it up. Technically there isn’t even a Starbucks in Bedford, although that is where the two lovely Lively lovebirds actually did reportedly purchase a $2 million property together.
In my cynical midlife years, it’s easy for me to be sarcastic. Not only do I know how much more important real life—and real news—is, I have another reason for laughing when I wake up and find that this picayune event in the lives of two people who happen to be famous has made the headlines.
Several years ago, I worked as a producer for the television show, “Entertainment Tonight.” It was a perfect fit—I had grown up on a steady diet of People magazine, TV Guide (where I also worked), and anything and everything related to celebrity.
Back in the day, I could have told you exactly who Naomi Campbell was dating at the moment, the plotlines of all the ABC soap operas (Luke and Laura!), and exactly how many books had been published on the O.J. Simpson murder case. (Yes, I know I’m dating myself.)
I once had to produce a story on where Carolyn Bessette, JFK Jr.’s wife, got her hair colored and what particular shade of blonde it was. It wouldn’t have surprised me if my supervising producers asked me to find out where she bought her tampons—nothing was off limits.
I finally left the job when my bosses wanted me to leave my sister’s wedding to come in to work because Princess Diana died the same day. That, and an eye twitch that happened every time I heard the E.T. theme song were sure signs it was time to quit. I had a realization of perspective.
Things are much worse now in the world of the stars, as the demand for celebrity news and attention has ratcheted up several extreme notches. The paparazzi are evil scavengers who goad the celebs into situations just to get a scandal shot. Reality shows came on the scene after I left “the biz” and now everyone thinks they can get famous by being on “Real Housewives of New Haven” or “Car Wars: My Midlife Crisis Convertible Is Faster Than Yours.”*
There’s no shame and very little pride anymore.
I understand the recipe and reasons for why a story like two actors buying a nearby house together gets your attention. You could say I’ve stooped to the same level just by including them in my headline and using their picture for this column—it got you to stop and read it.
There’s a quarter-cup of glamour mixed in with a dash of envy. Add in the seasoning of wanting to watch people on the way up so you can gloat when they’re on the way down (think Mel Gibson). But the meat of it is the publicity machine that grinds out mass-produced, fast-food hysteria and convinces you that you’re getting filet mignon.
The need to shock and overwhelm is increasing and for sure you should question the timing of everything that happens in tinsel town. I’m betting that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie both will have big movies opening right around the time they officially become Mr. and Mrs. Brangelina. The more attention they get, the better it is for the bottom line.
Being in the orbit of the stars is enticing. The possibility of that is part of the appeal of the Blake and Ryan story. (Blyan? Rake?) I’m sure there are some people who think there’s a definite chance they’ll become best buddies with the twosome once they move to town. You’ll be in front of them in the market checkout line and strike up a conversation about the new restaurant in town. “Hey, why don’t you join Ryan and me tonight, when we try it out,” she’ll say. Next thing you know, your fantasy has you going to the premiere of his next big film and being cast as an extra on “Gossip Girl.”
Remember the rumors I mentioned above—, eating ice cream in Ridgefield and going to the bathroom at Starbucks? Just keep in mind that at some point in her day, Blake Lively does have to go to the bathroom, just like you and me.
Celebs—they’re really no different.
*There are no actual shows called "Real Housewives of East Haven" or "Car Wars: My Midlife Crisis Convertible is Faster Than Yours," so don't try to figure out how to audition for them. But if you're a TV producer and want to buy the rights to the ideas, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!