Why are we so obsessed with fame? In Starstruck, former autograph hound and current entertainment journalist Michael Joseph Gross searches for the answer as he travels from Hollywood to Dollywood, Neverland to Middle Earth. He chases after Mick Jagger with a professional autograph collector; gets the inside scoop from Mary Hart on covering Hollywood for Entertainment Tonight; walks the red carpet with Sean Astin during The Lord of the Rings's Oscar championship season; and discovers what fans look like to the ...
Why are we so obsessed with fame? In Starstruck, former autograph hound and current entertainment journalist Michael Joseph Gross searches for the answer as he travels from Hollywood to Dollywood, Neverland to Middle Earth. He chases after Mick Jagger with a professional autograph collector; gets the inside scoop from Mary Hart on covering Hollywood for Entertainment Tonight; walks the red carpet with Sean Astin during The Lord of the Rings's Oscar championship season; and discovers what fans look like to the celebrities themselves—who often seem to be among the most starstruck of us all.
"Absorbing."—Michael Musto, Village Voice
"Starstruck is a wonderful blend of insight, personal history, sociology, and hilarious gossip...I can't wait for people to start asking Gross for his autograph."—Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the Devil
"Gross works the fame-shame equation with a piercingly funny perceptiveness."—East Bay Express
"Like an anthropologist trained in Hollywood culture, [Gross] understands the positive and negative results of adulation...Gross's writing is honest and humane, and his book is an entertaining look at modern celebrity culture."—Publishers Weekly
"It's hard to imagine a more important, underestimated, and vexing subject for America today than celebrity, and Michael Gross's treatment of the subject is everything one would hope it could be: thoughtful, generous, rigorous, and suspicious of cant."—Jim Shepard, author of Project X
Also available: Starstruck hc 1-58234-316-0 ISBN-13 978-1-58234-316-7 $23.95
As a youngster, Gross collected autographs, and although his passion for that hobby faded as he got older, his fascination with celebrity remained. Now a journalist (he's written for the New York Times, the Boston Globe and other publications), he explores the star system from both sides of the velvet rope. Gross interviews fans, collectors, celebrities and publicists in an effort to paint a broad portrait of changing celebrity culture. For instance, as a teenager in the 1980s, Gross enjoyed a personal correspondence with screen goddess Olivia de Havilland. Now, such personal access is rare: professional hounds get stars to autograph headshots, which they then sell on eBay. These pros can earn six figures a year, while minor celebrities, like 1950s and '60s actor Shirley Jones, charge $20 a pop for in-person signatures at signing conventions. Star power is a construct, explains Gross. Like an anthropologist trained in Hollywood culture, he understands the positive and negative results of adulation. Although his childhood collecting allowed him "to believe that I mattered," he concludes that the star images he worshiped were, in the end, damaging. They delivered "false idols whose lives present impossible standards for the rest of us." Gross's writing is honest and humane, and his book is an entertaining look at modern celebrity culture. Agent, Lydia Wills. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Entertainment reporter Gross, a confessed autograph hound (now reformed) analyzes the meaning of fandom and weighs the psychological costs and rewards of the hunt for idols of movies and television. From cool Sundance to the meanest Green Room, from Jacksonian Neverland to Partonesque Dollywood, our earnest reporter pursues the famous and the fans. It's all about special people like Julia, Sean, Uma, Kelsey, Halle and Tom (whether Cruise, Hanks or Smothers). At autograph bazaars, it's also about Adriana Castelotti (a.k.a. Snow White) and Jerry Maren (an original munchkin), whose mere proximity sends aficionados into raptures. The proficient Gross reveals his once special attachment to the uncloseted world of Will and Grace. He hangs for a while with Mickey Rourke and for a spell with Sean Astin, and if these personalities leave a reader with little more than outright lassitude, if access to such putative household names seems less than a reason for living, perhaps numismatics or bibliophilism might be better. Surely, not everyone will share Gross's infatuation with the land of publicists and personal assistants, of B- and C-list celebs, of fanzines and the regular hype, the frequent tripe of TV's daily entertainment news shows. He gives us a dissection of a subculture that spawned an industry founded on an obsession in which celebrity is all. "I'm not an atheist," one functionary quipped to the author, "I believe in Judy Garland." In a place where the starstruck may be struck dumb, Gross writes frankly and easily about the commerce among the stars (the commodities) and the fans (the consumers). His retelling of the gushing and the fawning, the departure from the real world is, at best,honest. At worst, though, it's too frequently fey and finally somehow dispiriting. A discomfiting note on pop culture-on fandom, by a fan, and chiefly for fans.
San Francisco Chronicle
"Screaming at the top of your lungs in admiration at a concert will never be the same. Intriguing, insightful and honest."
— Michael Musto
East Bay Express
"Gross works the fame-shame equation with a piercingly funny perceptiveness."
Michael Joseph Gross has written for the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Atlantic Monthly, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, the Nation, and many other magazines and newspapers. He won PEN/New England's 2002 Discovery Award for nonfiction. He lives in California.