Hollywood Walk of Lame

I wasn't around when it started, but I have a feeling that the Hollywood Walk of Fame's original intent was to be a big deal.

The HWOF was established in 1958 and to date includes over 2,400 stars that are laid on both sides of a 15-block stretch of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood.

It attracts over 10 million visitors annually, according to Wikipedia. So by that definition, the HWOF is a big deal. But it's a big deal as a spectacle, not so much for its Hall of Fame chops.

It used to be that to get a star on the HWOF, you had to be among the industry's giants. But for years, pretty much any Tom, Dick or Harry in the entertainment biz is getting his or her due, in the form of those five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decides who should get a star, and they've been doing so at breakneck speed in recent years. As a result, whenever I hear of another person getting a star, the news is usually met by me with some eye rolling.

The first time I nearly gagged was when I heard Gary Collins was getting a star. I'm sure actor and pitchman Collins is a nice guy, but, seriously? A star on the HWOF?

The HWOF is in the news again, as actress Penelope Cruz was honored last week with her star.

Carol Burnett, one of the folks truly deserving of a star, is emblazoned into the sidewalk at 6439 Hollywood Boulevard

I'm only cranky about this because I think the HWOF started as a noble idea and at one time to be emblazoned into the sidewalk was a true honor. Now, I think it's just something to snicker at.

Actually, in addition to acknowledging entertainers, the HWOF was supposed to encourage redevelopment of Hollywood Boulevard. That's fine, but why not "encourage development" by honoring the best of the best?

The selection committee is causing so many stars to be molded that you wonder what their criteria is to bestow a star on someone.

Well, here it is, according to the Wiki:

Each year, an average of 200 nominations are submitted to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Walk of Fame Selection Committee. Anyone, including fans, can nominate anyone active in the field of entertainment, as long as the nominee or his or her management is in agreement with the nomination. (A letter of agreement from the nominated celebrity or representative must accompany the application.) Nominees must have a minimum of five years' experience in the category for which they are nominated and a history of "charitable contributions." Posthumous nominees must have been deceased at least five years.

At a meeting each June, the committee selects approximately 20 celebrities to receive stars on the Walk of Fame during the following year. One posthumous award is given each year as well. The nominations of those not selected are "rolled over" to the following year for reconsideration; those not selected two years in a row are dropped, and must be renominated to receive further consideration. Living recipients must agree to personally attend a presentation ceremony within five years of selection. A relative of deceased recipients must attend posthumous presentations. Presentation ceremonies are open to the public.

Whew! Got all that?

Hollywood can do whatever it wants, of course. It hardly needs my permission. But my advice to the committee would be this: discretion may be the better part of valor here.

Check that; it's probably too late to put this toothpaste back into the tube.


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