[Paleopsych] NY MetRo: Celebrity Psychos: The Summer They All Went Mad

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Celebrity Psychos: The Summer They All Went Mad
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    Celebrity and Its Discontents: A Diagnosis
    By [8]Vanessa Grigoriadis

    Our celebrities are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it
    anymore. They're on a dangerous rampage, and no one is safe. Christian
    Slater grabbed a woman's bottom outside an Upper East Side deli, and
    Russell Crowe had a tantrum lengthy enough for him to rip a phone out
    of the wall, take it down the elevator, and throw it into the face of
    a clerk at the city's most exclusive hotel. Dave Chappelle beat a
    quick path from his final Comedy Central tapings to South Africa,
    explaining he needed to go visit a friend, and Brad Pitt dyed his hair
    platinum (he got it done by Jen's hairdresser!), played public footsie
    with Angelina Jolie, and paid the price with viral meningitis.
    Courtney Love, the patron saint of celebrity craziness, has been quiet
    lately, but getting larger. Who knows when she may erupt again. This
    summer, all outbreaks are only sideshows to the concurrent breakdown
    of Michael Jackson during his trial and the more recent mania of Tom
    Cruise, two of the biggest and most mysterious stars in the world
    unmasked as stark-raving lunatics. (The reeducation of Katie Holmes,
    the Manchurian Fiancée, continues apace.) Attack or be attacked: The
    other week, Leonardo DiCaprio was hanging out at a house party in the
    Hollywood Hills when one of the female guests hit him in the face with
    a bottle.

    This is a country of big, of mega, and these are megastars having
    megabreakdowns, and we are megainterested. Something is wrong with
    Chris Tucker too--caught speeding at 109 miles per hour, he recently
    led cops on a ten-mile chase, later explaining he was late for church.
    It seems that celebrity egos have gotten out of control. It seems that
    the celebrity system has gotten out of control. The $20 million
    against 20 percent of the gross, the sponsorship money, the lava of
    free stuff. The freedom, the immortality, the fact that you will never
    be found guilty in a jury trial. Mariah Carey becomes a star at 18,
    and she never has to think about the weather for her entire adult

    It seems there are so many more images of celebrities these days that
    there cannot help but be more out-of-control images, the curtain
    blasted to bits by the surveillance hive-mind that extends from
    paparazzi to stylist's assistant tipped out by Us Weekly to
    neighboring Delano cabana guests. Then it seems the craziness might be
    happening because the increase in watching is the very thing creating
    the craziness. Then it seems that the beginning, middle, and end of
    the celebrity life story is finding a way to get people to keep
    watching and loving the star forever, so at a time when they are more
    watched and more loved than at any other point in history, they should
    not be going so crazy.

    But they are.

    The celebrity houses stretch along the Malibu shore, one after
    another, like a string of diamonds. From these three- (Courteney Cox
    Arquette) or four- (Julia Roberts) or five- (Ray Romano) bedroom
    modernist boxes by Richard Meier's contemporaries, you can see the
    world clearly. From these soaring windows, the water is fine. They are
    built close to each other as in a city on their moss-covered stilts.
    Ten million dollars does not even secure a backyard, but the Pacific
    induces a state of Zen, and you even get a frisson of excitement that
    only the barest sliver of land separates you, George Clooney, from
    Halle Berry, or Mel Gibson from Britney and Kevin. Inside the glass
    bubble, you feel all alone. The only comfort is the wide-open ocean.

    But here, in the middle of the Pacific, is Frank Griffin, 55, British
    co-owner of an L.A.-based photo agency, separated father of an
    8-year-old son, and not one of the worst kinds of stalkerazzi but not
    one of the best either. He stands on the bow of the Full Moon, the new
    41-foot Cranchi boat he purchased with his spoils from the first Tom
    and Katie shot in Rome, the first Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony
    shot, one of the first Britney Spears bumps that later turned out to
    be not a bump, or, in a gruesome side effect of newfangled tabloid
    reportage, the first photo of a bump that might have been a bump that
    didn't last. Britney hates the paparazzi, especially now that she's
    huge, like huge huge: "On a Britney car chase," says a shooter for
    another agency, Splash, "you're thirteenth in a line of cars following
    this racing madwoman: There's nothing to do but close your eyes and
    hang on. It's so dangerous! It's my favorite part of the job."

    Today, Griffin is chill; he's mostly out here showing off his new boat
    to two of his young charges, Danny Young and Mustafa Khalili,
    28-year-old Brits whose nationality is clear despite their American
    uniform of khaki shorts, baseball caps, and slim Pumas in primary
    colors. Khalili returned from the beaches of Waikiki yesterday on the
    trail of Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz, two big stars who may
    hate the paparazzi even more than Britney, but he came back
    empty-handed, no cove giving up secrets, no hotel valet with a price
    on information, and later Griffin is going to give him hell. First,
    though, they're going to check out Brad Pitt's house.

    The sea gets rougher as the boat turns upwind, houses streaming by
    faster now, the one with the dark wood (Stephen Dorff's) and the
    apricot one with green trimming (Leo's mom's) and finally the one
    Jennifer Aniston leases for upwards of $25,000 a month, which has all
    the blinds closed--no photo today of the bikini-clad America's
    Sweetheart reading a script on a chaise longue, that ubiquitous
    tabloid shot that tends to be followed by a caption about how she's
    recovering from a Shiatsu massage (Aniston, all tabloid readers know,
    gets massages daily). Griffin knows Aniston--his man in Chicago got
    her walking on Lake Michigan yesterday with her hairstylist, Chris
    McMillan. "He's trying to get Brad and Jen back together, but it's not
    going to work," declares Griffin, who has a lot of strong opinions on
    such topics. "When it came to Angelina, Jen couldn't forgive that;
    perhaps if they'd had children, he would've been more discreet. It was
    Angelina's choice to out the relationship, though, with the
    photographs from Kenya." He bangs his hand on the thin tan wheel.
    "Brad flew to Mombasa on a private plane! The information came from
    her camp!"

    A few whitecaps swirl around a buoy commandeered by happy seals. "That
    looks fun," says Young. "Until a shark comes along, and then--" He
    brings his hands together in a loud clap.

    The boat pulls near Brad's. Built into a cliff, the house has a long
    series of windows shaped like an eye, staring right at us. Griffin
    stares back and raises his binoculars. "Come on, Brad," he implores.
    "Give it up."

    At the most basic level, it's people like Griffin, with an army of
    furtive men with digital cameras, who are driving celebrities crazy.
    They are the snakes in the celebrity garden, lurking and leering,
    spoiling paradise. Or maybe they're more like Jagerettes, handing out
    shots and getting everyone drunk on the celebrity-industrial complex,
    a shape-shifting behemoth that compensates for fewer ticket sales by
    producing more personality-driven lip glosses. The tabloid business is
    growing as the entertainment business is shrinking; perhaps eventually
    the former will overtake the latter, and stars will still be playing

    The relationship between stars and paparazzi has certainly turned into
    bounty hunting, but it's not entirely clear that physical safety is
    the only reason stars have lobbied for the LAPD to begin an
    investigation into the paparazzi, given symbolic heft by the recent
    car accident between Lindsay Lohan and a "pap" on a trendy
    Nolita-esque corner of West Hollywood. Celebrities don't want to
    ignore the paparazzi anymore--the stories they fuel have gotten so big
    they're ending up on the CNN ticker. So life takes place behind
    half-drawn blinds. They should have known better when they moved in,
    or perhaps they've only just started to mind that Malibu, with a Nobu
    in the quaint mini-mall, has in the past few years become Star
    Country, and thus a leading spot for paparazzi, stalkers, starfuckers,
    fans, and all manner of untoward elements who seek to suck the energy
    right out of the star and leave no excess warmth of heart for him to
    bestow on the charity of his choosing.

    And Griffin is taking more than their pictures. Gossip, particularly
    of the unsourced British variety, is the leader in celebrity
    irritants, as discerned in a study of celebrity stressors by Charles
    Figley, a professor at Florida State University. The gossip keeps
    pouring in as we simultaneously honor and revile our celebrities in a
    more intimate manner than ever before; today is only another day in
    the inexorable progress of a full Britification of our celebrity
    press. What's important now is less the dissonance between actor and
    onscreen roles and more the difference between the image the celebrity
    is selling and the way he "really" is. Most of the paparazzi you come
    across in L.A. are Brits, relentless greyhounds of war with an
    attitude. "Americans can't do this job--they don't want to make $2,000
    a day legally," sneers Griffin.

    The camera doesn't lie, you were in this place at that time, Jennifer
    Garner is clearly many months pregnant and having a shotgun wedding to
    Ben Affleck at Parrot Cay, but then there's the backstory too. (Are
    you really happy? Do you hate that Ben smokes? Are you secretly
    terrified of J.Lo?) Paparazzi, more than ever, are the sources on text
    accompanying photographs. Exaggeration is what tabloids traffic in,
    and photographers can be happy to oblige--they often submit text to
    editors along with their photos, text that can be phoned in from a
    place called Imagination.

    If not paparazzi, there's always someone else to sell you out. Even
    your own publicist. "Some publicists are part of the problem," says
    Ken Sunshine of Sunshine Consultants. "To get attention for their
    unknowns, people sell out their A-list clients, who are too dumb and
    too naïve to realize this is being done to them. The income stream is
    a volume business."

    Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton have both claimed to have
    excommunicated friends whom they set up with false information that
    later appeared in print. (No word if each was the other's friend.)

    Finally, as any reader of the supermarket tabloids can tell you, truth
    and falsehood are beside the point. There's a phantom being, a
    doppelgänger, out there with your name on it, and you can't control
    the way it's behaving. Once you have been cast in a story line, there
    is no way out. It's been a year since the tabs first wondered if Nick
    Lachey and Jessica Simpson were going to break up, and the cover of
    last week's Star magazine still asks, nick & jessica: over by xmas? It
    is now necessary for Jennifer Aniston to bounce back from her divorce
    and engage in a deep friendship with Vince Vaughn, her co-star in a
    new movie called, of course, The Breakup. Inevitably, in the next news
    cycle, Jen collapses on the way to dinner with friends because the
    divorce process is "taking an unmistakable toll."

    In the final indignity, the same photo of Aniston walking her dog may
    be used one week to show her independence--she's enjoying things for
    herself!--and the next week to demonstrate her unhappiness ("She tried
    to relax by taking her dog, Norman, on a long walk").

    Of course, this is only the stuff that gets printed. Any bit of
    information posted on a blog flies across the Internet and sticks. The
    gaze is intense and permanent. "My clients are concerned about speed,"
    says Leslee Dart of the Dart Group. "You print a false rumor, and
    within an hour, it's disseminated worldwide. The ability to set the
    record straight has become impossible." The expanding world market
    needs to be fed: When I was with Griffin, he got a call from his
    distributor about a new account in Croatia. "There you go," he crowed.
    "A few years ago, they're slaughtering each other, and now they're
    buying pictures of Britney Spears's crotch."

    These days, we talk about celebrities like they're our friends--or
    former friends. On a recent night at Koi, the trendiest sushi
    restaurant in all L.A., Kato Kaelin, older, ruddy-cheeked, in a
    fringed leather jacket, is the only celebrity inside.

    A middle-aged woman in a yellow pantsuit comes out of the restaurant
    and takes a picture of the paparazzi with her cameraphone. A tall
    couple in slightly too dressy evening attire slither toward the valet.
    "Who did we miss in there?" they ask each other.

    "Angelina and Brad," jokes the woman. "He's got her on the table. He's
    like, `I love sushi!' "

    "Sa-shimi!" says the man.

    It's so hard to be a star--and no one cares. Stars are not just like
    us. According to researchers, celebrities are four times as likely to
    commit suicide as noncelebrities and live, on average, thirteen years
    less than Joe and Jane Sixpack. Celebrities may receive substandard
    treatment at hospitals, victims of deferred medical tests or
    competition between surgeons for the honor of operating on a
    celebrity. Celebrities may experience more insomnia, migraines, and
    irritable-bowel syndrome. Celebrities are twice as likely to develop a
    serious alcohol problem.

    And who's to blame for this tale of famous woe? Well, Mommie Dearest,
    of course. "In every autobiography of a famous person, you find that a
    parent has either died, been punishing, or been terribly neglecting,"
    says Sue Erikson Bloland, a psychoanalyst in private practice and
    daughter of ego psychologist Erik Erikson, whose childhood followed a
    similar pattern. This void is then filled by a mentoring figure, a
    grandparent or teacher or even the other parent, who makes a
    narcissistic investment in the star. The child grabs the chance at
    love, but it's a trap. Jessica Simpson's lifetime of encouragement
    from her father, the one who pushed her to sing and also made her
    promise to remain a virgin (his virgin) until she married, is all
    about reducing her to his puppet (a pretty puppet).

    Not content to leave the study of celebrities to tabloid body-language
    experts, the psychological community is coming to terms with celebrity
    psychopathology. The modern medical term--the famous term, the
    celebrity term, the superstar of psychological monikers--is acquired
    situational narcissism (coined by a doctor who may know whereof he
    speaks, since he refused an interview because he didn't appear in the
    "Best Doctors" issue of this magazine).

    Are the crazy drawn to Fame, or does Fame make them crazy? ASN claims
    the latter. To a celebrity, narcissism is a rational response to a
    world that functions as a mirror, amplifying one's positive
    self-image, the sense that one is in the absolute center. It arrives
    later than classical narcissism--which sets in between the ages of 3
    and 5, once a realistic view of the world begins to develop--but the
    disorders are indistinguishable, with patients exhibiting the same
    grandiose fantasies, excessive need for approval, lack of empathy,
    anger, and depression (how fabulous). Fearful of exposing the real
    them, narcissists project a glorified self that becomes so ingrained
    it becomes impossible to tell what's real and what's made up. This is
    the self they start talking about in the third person. Everyone must
    love this self or it risks dissolution. There must be Omnipresent
    Love. Speech becomes impressionistic and lacking in detail--a symptom
    celebrity profilers well recognize.

    Celebrity, as John Updike wrote, is the mask that eats into the face.
    A study has shown that pop stars use personal pronouns in their
    songwriting three times more once they become famous; another study
    claims that the more famous one gets, the more one checks oneself in
    the mirror, and the more one's self-concept becomes self-conscious.
    It's a problem, to be both self-involved and self-conscious.

    A Tinseltown version of post-traumatic stress disorder develops.
    Danger is around every corner. "The same thing happens to celebrities
    that happens because of war, because you're in the middle of disaster,
    terrorism," says psychologist Robert Butterworth. Last month,
    Catherine Zeta-Jones's stalker was sent to prison after claiming she
    was going to blow Zeta-Jones's brains out like JFK or slice her up
    like Manson did to Sharon Tate unless she stopped having an affair
    with George Clooney, which she wasn't.

    Trapped in their bubble, celebrities experience arrested development.
    The celebrity becomes an adolescent, a developmental stage that is
    non-age-specific. The time is the time before the blows to self-esteem
    that lead to a mature, realistic view of one's weaknesses and
    strengths and a capacity for love that transcends self-love (Paris
    Hilton time).

    But once again, the world impedes. Someone, a fired masseuse or
    peevish younger sister, tells the celebrity that he is full of it, or
    he loses out on the new Steven Soderbergh movie. Impostor syndrome
    sets in, with its attendant sense of fraudulence. The star begins to
    notice he has a limited skill set based upon a fortunate genetic hand
    dealt him. Emotionally intuitive creatures, they realize they're
    surrounded by people smarter than they are--even their agents!--and
    that makes them insecure.

    Wary of the gap between the false and true self, the star
    overcompensates by developing a God complex. Important people request
    the star's largesse, as the many supplicating letters in Marlon
    Brando's recent estate auction demonstrate, even one from Martin
    Luther King Jr. ("I have been subject to great personal strife and am
    obliged to go to Court Thursday," Brando telegrams back. "I feel
    honored that you asked for what assistance I could give. I cannot at
    this time be of assistance.") The star may be told, like Madonna has
    been by the rabbis of Kabbalah, that she is the reincarnation of Queen
    Esther. The star may be the tool by which the message of a body like
    Scientology is meant to be disseminated across all lands.

    The overall multiaxial assessment: Completely Out of Their Mind
    Personality Disorder With Multiple Insane Features, or, more
    succinctly, Beyond Diagnosis.

    So who would want to be a star under these conditions? Listen to a
    star in the making: Ariel Gade, 8, at the premiere of mainstream
    horror flick Dark Water, when asked if she likes fame. "I love it,"
    she says, her voice quavering with excitement. "I'm just having such a
    good time tonight!" Does she want to be famous? "I'd like to be a
    director. I think directors are the coolest people around." When I ask
    her if things were still the same with her friends, first she says
    yes, but then reconsiders: "Well," she says, scrunching up her
    exquisite face, "actually, I'm home-schooled, so I don't have any
    friends. But I do have cousins." She starts to walk away but stops
    short. "Oh, and by the way, this is a Bill Blass design," she says,
    holding out her pink tulle dress. "Bill Blass brought it over a few
    days ago, I don't remember exactly when. Bill Blass gave it to me as a
    little gift." (Which would have been nice, except Bill Blass is dead.)

    Paradise is hanging out at the most private--but not too
    private--places around, like the exquisite Château Marmont garden,
    which mortals are discouraged from entering after nightfall, or
    Bungalow 8, the subway-car-size Chelsea bar with no VIP room that
    makes stars feel "normal" because each banquette features stars like a
    Mary-Kate Olsen or a Jay-Z, so that everywhere you look there is a
    reminder that you are in the right place, you have not made a mistake,
    you are as special as they say. Homage will be paid from celebrity to
    celebrity: "I went up to Angelina Jolie at an awards thing, and I
    just, I couldn't help it, I started bawling," says Anne Hathaway, star
    of The Princess Diaries, at lunch at the Central Park Boathouse on a
    recent Wednesday. "She's been my favorite actress since I was 16. We
    watched each other in the eyes, and I could tell she had a beautiful
    soul. I guess she thought the same thing about me, because she asked
    me to go to Cambodia in association with her project. She said the
    sweetest thing: `Whenever I'm in a hotel room, I love watching your
    films, because even if it's three in the morning, it makes me so
    happy.' "

    No one has ever been safe in the House of Fame, though. Leo Braudy's
    definitive study of fame, The Frenzy of Renown, traces the earliest
    mention of this house to Ovid's Metamorphoses, where it rests on a
    mountaintop at the meeting point of land, sky, and sea. In Chaucer's
    fourteenth-century poem "The House of Fame," the house has become a
    castle with as many windows as snowflakes, packed with sorceresses and
    jugglers, magicians and wizards, celebrated singers like Orpheus and
    humble minstrels with bagpipes. A half-foot of solid gold covers the
    ceiling, walls, and floor of the great hall, where Fame herself
    presides from a throne made of ruby, her head extending to heaven and
    her body covered with as many "tongues as on bestes heres." Her
    herald, Eolus, the god of wind, holds a trumpet of Praise and a
    trumpet of Slander, blowing from them as Fame pleases.

    Tom Cruise, in all his lunatic effusiveness and paranoid
    defensiveness, is the definitive celebrity of this age. He's the boy
    in the bubble. He's said not to read his press, and has requested
    photo approval on shoots since his Risky Business days. One could not
    act as Cruise has if one understood how one's actions were being
    interpreted. One could not pop the question to Katie Holmes at a
    candlelit dinner at the Eiffel Tower and announce the news at a press
    conference less than eight hours later, nor claim that methadone was
    originally called adolophine because "it was named after Adolf
    Hitler," nor tell Matt Lauer, "There is no such thing as a chemical
    imbalance . . . Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt--you're glib." (A talk-show
    host, glib?) One could not be so forceful about such things unless one
    was Tom Cruise. "The exterior is only one covering," he has said,
    equally forcefully. "I do not have a fear of life or death."

    In the bubble, the Cruise makes his own rules, as was evident at the
    New York War of the Worlds premiere last month. Even though Hollywood
    protocol dictates Major Star arrival only once all other beings have
    been stuffed in the theater, Cruise arrived two hours early. He wanted
    to press flesh, fans, reporters, curious bystanders, but particularly
    his new fiancée, whom he devoured with kisses. CAN I STEAL A KISS FROM
    TOM? read a placard held up by a fan.

    Katie shook her head. Katie does not speak.

    The hundred or so fans who got there early wore War of the Worlds
    T-shirts, and Cruise ran over to them, grabbing cell phones to say
    hello to mothers before he headed to the press line, where frantic
    arms stretched tape recorders over barricades. "We're from British
    TV," said one reporter. "I love Brits!" shrieked Cruise.

    "We're from Australian TV," said the next reporter.

    "I love the Aussies!" he yelled.

    The reporter from People magazine was shaking: "I have no idea what's
    on this tape," she whispered. "It was like we went into a trance and
    got all giggly and girly. Tom touched my arm--he gripped it."

    Other guests started to arrive, like Hulk Hogan: "I think AFTRA should
    elect me as the commissioner of Demolition Paparazzi with a kind of
    above-the-law license, and let me handle each of them on an individual
    basis," he said, twitching.

    Steven Spielberg strode in--this is his movie, Tom is his guy, and no
    one's messing with either of them. "The media has to make a lot of
    money the way that movies have to make a lot of money," he said. "I'm
    very grown-up about this. They need to get out of a media slump the
    same way everyone's like, `What's going to get Hollywood out of their
    movie slump in '04 and '05?' So when I see the media exploiting a
    couple, I know that's another industry trying to make a lot of money
    off of the celebrity of these people. Then they get weeks of a good
    episodic series called the Tom and Katie series, the Ben and Jennifer
    series, the Brad and Angelina series." He glowered. "The media and the
    movie industry don't always agree with each other, but they're both
    out to entertain," he said. "People should not be fooled."

    Howard Stern and girlfriend Beth Ostrovsky greeted Tom and Katie, then
    sashayed down the red carpet. "I can't believe the girl is 26 years
    old and still a virgin, but I do believe her," said Stern. "On my
    show, I'd ask, `What does that mean, "to hold out"? Everything but?
    What exactly?' "

    "Honey!" said Ostrovsky. "She was very nice to you about two minutes

    "Am I being mean?" asked Stern. "I'm just curious. What if they get in
    bed and--who knows?--he doesn't like her backside. There could be all
    kinds of problems. Then there's the whole religion thing. Oh, I don't
    know where to end. There's all kinds of weird stuff going on there,
    jumping up and down on the couch on Oprah. I'm excited when I'm with a
    woman, but I don't jump up and down on a couch--"

    The Cruise did not hear any of this. He glided right past it. He was
    involved, steady, focused, making his way toward the theater as he
    took on questions about when he will get married, or if he feels
    competitive with Holmes--"I don't have rivalries," he said,
    "especially not with my love"--and how it feels to have Katie near him
    ("It's very exciting"). Will he do Broadway? "If I can find the right
    thing," he said. "I don't know of any piece of theater I'd like to be
    doing, but I like dancing. I like dancing."

    Now Cruise was at the door. He turned around one more time, looking
    back over all he saw, all these hundreds of people swarming toward him
    in midtown Manhattan, the whole world watching, everyone interested
    expressly in the Cruise. From inside the bubble, he waved, like the
    good witch in The Wizard of Oz.

    Of course, there's another Tom Cruise--a couple of them, actually. The
    good Tom Cruise has some questionable twins. There's the one who goes
    home and does God knows what with God knows whom--the real Tom Cruise.
    Then there's the one who haunts certain blogs and numerous
    conversations. Who among us would believe any of this preposterous
    stuff, but there it is, wherever you look on the Internet. Did Tom
    Cruise ask Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, and Kate Bosworth to be
    his girlfriend before picking Holmes, who was in fact his fifth-choice
    girlfriend? Ridiculous. Did he promise Holmes a five-year contract,
    worth $10 million with no conjugal duties, to play his wife? Who makes
    this stuff up? Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 has even gone on record
    denying that Cruise was caught in Thomas's bed by Thomas's wife. ("If
    I was gay, Tom Cruise wouldn't be on the top of my list," he said. "It
    would be Brad Pitt.") Word-of-mouth stories are even less believable,
    more like Eyes Wide Shut than anything that would happen to a megastar
    in the prime of his career. I bumped into a friend in the West Village
    last week who told me the most outlandish story of all: One time on
    Universal president Ron Meyer's boat, Cruise put a mask on, the same
    mask from Mission: Impossible, and wouldn't take it off. They docked
    and went to a nightclub. Cruise went to the bathroom. He met a guy.
    The guy wasn't interested. He ripped off the mask and declared, "But
    I'm Tom Cruise!" The only response to this kind of lunacy is "And I'm
    Marie Antoinette!" Cruise is a figure of fantasy, stalking our dream
    lives, as surely as the paparazzi stalk him.

    Except that many of us don't believe it's our dream life. Everybody
    thinks that they know what celebrities really do. They do it with
    gerbils, and with women not their wives, and under the influence of
    cocaine, and in bathrooms with people of the same sex. (Part of what's
    so satisfying about Paris Hilton is that, before she turned into Ivana
    Trump, every single atom of her being told you her real life was every
    bit as lurid as any figment of the gossip imagination.) People tell
    you things, and they have such a ring of truth to them: "I worked with
    a male movie star who, when he became a male movie star of stature,
    would actively work the casting couch--not only proclaim the size of
    his penis, which was gargantuan, but willingly say servicing it was
    part of the program," says a former agent. "Some women would run
    screaming from the room. Some would stay and become part of the movie.
    And I was his agent. I was his agent."

    When one makes about $80 million a picture, like Cruise does, one can
    pay for whatever handlers one wishes, and these handlers will become
    your friends, family, and confidants. (Just make sure they don't have
    cousins at In Touch!) L.A.'s population is exploding, and I'm not sure
    that it's not because people today are compelled to relocate to places
    where they could possibly work for, with, or near a celebrity. These
    days, a life as Julia Roberts's assistant is not a lost life, but a
    life blessed, transmogrified, made shiny by her presence. To be in the
    entourage of such a star, either as landscaper, organic-food preparer,
    or second assistant, is to be made whole.

    The people who help make stars beautiful are the ones they're closest
    to--they see the Real You before the fake one. Jennifer Aniston moved
    in with her hairdresser when she and Brad split up. Therapists are
    great, but they're hard to own--"You don't have time to treat more
    than one celebrity at once, unless it's Woody Allen," says
    psychologist Stuart Fischoff. "They say, `I want to make sure, Doc,
    that I can call you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.' Well, no, you
    can't. `No one sets limits on me!' "

    The aura of a celebrity extends over everyone he or she works with.
    "I've gotten thank-yous on albums, and that's really great," says
    Stuart Kaplan, star cosmetic dermatologist, multiple triple-platinum
    albums with plaques inscribed TO OUR DERMATOLOGIST hung throughout his
    Beverly Hills office. There he is, still at the office at 9:30 P.M., a
    lovable guy in blue Dickies, a Horace Mann graduate who misses New
    York but can't give up the swell life. "I treated a kid whose father
    was a director, and he said, `Somehow, somewhere, you'll have a
    character named after you in a movie,' " he says. Then he catches
    himself. "I am not a better doctor because I treat celebrities," he
    says. "I am a better doctor because of my charitable work."

    Spoken like a celebrity.

    Nowadays in the celebrity nuthouse, the inmates are running the
    asylum, only pretending that they're the ones under observation. Brad
    Pitt owns the international rights to the lusty 60-page W magazine
    spread that cast Angelina Jolie as his wife. Michael Douglas and
    Catherine Zeta-Jones sold their wedding pictures for £1 million to
    OK!, the smarmy British tabloid that will open a U.S. office this fall
    and very likely broker more of such deals to the detriment of
    shallower-pocketed American tabloids. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin
    staged a paparazzi shot leaving her gynecologist after getting the
    news that she was pregnant, her brother's girlfriend behind the

    Of course, for a narcissist, privacy is a relative concept. Often,
    it's just part of the performance. Private, when a celebrity uses the
    word, means many things, perhaps "I'm classy" or "I don't go to
    nightclubs" or "I'm shy," but what it rarely means is "I'm private"
    and certainly not when a semi-naked photo shoot is involved. A few
    months ago, good-girl actress Hilary Duff, 17, explained to me in an
    interview that she couldn't possibly divulge that she was dating rock
    singer Joel Madden--she was a private person, she said, and she had to
    save something for herself, otherwise what does one have? This made
    sense. Except a couple months later at the premiere of The Perfect
    Man, Duff's new movie, there was Madden, covered in tattoos, his hair
    arrayed in a black-dyed faux-hawk--Hilary's "Perfect Man," as the
    entertainment-news programs put it. He mumbled something about Hilary
    being a great girl.

    Public image, after all, is the business stars are engaged in.
    Nowadays, reality seems to be following fantasy, as stars become their
    tabloid selves. Angelina Jolie, best known for Tomb Raider, is now an
    A-list star. The affair with Brad Pitt has been a small price to pay.
    Manipulations of the machine can have real-life consequence. The
    May-December between Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, which began when
    both had projects to promote, has now produced a "bump."

    No one is being fooled, and no one is in control. The circus has no
    ringmaster. Yet everyone is getting some of what he wants. And isn't
    that what psychiatrists say a relationship is all about?


    [DCM* 100.1]
    Celebrities with an exhibitionism disorder tend to favor halter tops,
    tattoos, even bare feet. Often (e.g., Paris Hilton, Rob Lowe) seen
    more memorably in amateur films than in professional ones.
    Example: Britney Spears

    [DCM 100.2]
    Dissociative Behavior
    Celebrities with dissociative-behavior disorder tend to behave in
    outlandish ways with no knowledge that others perceive their acts as
    out of the ordinary. Most often seen in megastars with extensive
    Example: Tom Cruise

    [DCM 100.3]
    Inappropriate Romantic Partners
    Celebrities who take inappropriate romantic partners only occasionally
    develop a sense of guilt and remorse, except (e.g., Hugh Grant) when a
    mug shot is involved.
    Examples: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie,
    Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn

    [DCM 100.4]
    Body Dysmorphism
    Body dysmorphism often develops in celebrities due to excessive media
    attention to secondary sexual characteristics (breasts, buttocks). The
    subsequent weight loss can be accompanied by guilt when the media
    focus on the celebrity's extreme thinness, and on the bad example
    being set for the nation's children.
    Examples: Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate Olsen

    * Diagnostic Celebrity Manual

    Root Causes

    Paparazzi Run-ins
    In recent years, as fees for photographs have escalated, paparazzi
    have become more aggressive and predatory. Stars are beginning to
    fight back.
    Example: Cameron Diaz

    Limited Social Circles
    Celebrities most often associate with other celebrities (indeed, this
    is one of the classic indications of narcissism), which exerts a
    distorting influence on their worldview and creates enormous
    competitive anxiety.
    Examples: Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon

    Asocial Freedom
    The absence of adult responsibilities or any normative pressures often
    leads to dissociative behavior (e.g., couch-jumping), outlandish
    costumes (e.g., pajamas), and plain freakishness.
    Example: Michael Jackson

    Tabloid Incongruity
    The tabloids present a view of the celebrity world that is
    authoritative, though often not factually accurate or even internally
    Examples: Us Weekly, People

    [Celebrity Therapy]
    Gwyneth and Baby
    As the celebrity system has evolved, celebrities more and more are
    learning to control it. This mock paparazzi shot, of Gwyneth Paltrow
    and Chris Martin happily leaving her gynecologist's office, was
    actually taken by her brother's girlfriend and sold to the tabs.

    Additional reporting by Jada Yuan.


    8. http://newyorkmetro.com/nymag/author_91

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