How to Get a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Pay a $30,000 sponsorship fee, for starters

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REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni

Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez blows a kiss at photographers as she poses on her star after it was unveiled on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California June 20, 2013.

Today Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston will become the 2,502nd celebrity to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, joining icons like Steven Spielberg, Audrey Hepburn, and Frank Sinatra on what has become, since its launch in 1960, a who’s-who’s of who’s made it in American entertainment. But unlike, say, the Oscars or the Emmys, the standards for inclusion are kept under tight wraps. So what, exactly, does it take to get one of these coveted pink terrazzo marble stars? TIME got the scoop from the newest member of the star selection committee: America’s Funniest Home Videos creator Vin Di Bona, and Ana Martinez, the Walk of Fame’s Vice President of Media Relations and Producer.

1. Produce something iconic.

In theory, anyone can apply for a star—all it takes is mailing an application and a fee to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. But submissions won’t even be considered if the candidate isn’t accomplished. “It’s a tourist attraction,” says Martinez. “We want the tourists to come to Hollywood to see their favorite stars.” (And the people working behind-the-scenes to create their favorite entertainment, like directors and producers.) As Di Bona puts it, “A star lets [fans] say thanks. Thank you for making my life happier or better.”

More specifically, that means that star candidates have to be famous for at least five years, and have, as Di Bona puts it, “unchallengeable” expertise in what the Chamber deems a core entertainment category—television, movies, radio, live theatre and music. Reality and Internet stars are notably excluded. As one Chamber rep famously said about Kim Kardashian, “She needs to get a real acting job then come to us.”

Also, no worries if you’re not human (though kudos for being able to read this): animals who have stars include Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, as well as fictional characters like Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Kermit the Frog.

kermit

Vince Bucci

Kermit the Frog, Nov. 14, 2002

(LIST: 8 Celebrity Inventions That Are Actually Smart)

2. Promise that you want one.

All star applications must include a written statement from the star candidate, confirming that a) they want a star and b) they will attend the unveiling ceremony if their application is accepted. That’s a main reason why A-listers like Julia Roberts and Dustin Hoffman don’t appear on the Walk of Fame—they’re not interested.

3. Raise $30,000. 

All star applications carry a $30,000 sponsorship fee. Half goes to the Hollywood Historic Trust, which maintains the Walk of Fame. The rest funds the creation of the star itself—breaking up the blank existing square and replacing it with a new one, printing the replica plaque honorees can take home, hiring photographers, security, and anything else related to the ceremony.

Typically the recording label or movie studio will foot the bill. But in some cases, the money has been raised by stars’ devoted fans. “Liza Minnelli’s fan club raised money by showing her movies at somebody’s house and having bake sales,” says Martinez. “Dean Stockwell was into recycling, so his fans did it by recycling.”

4. Wow the selection committee.

Every June, a select group of Hollywood bigwigs meets to review sponsors’ applications—including, most crucially, the star biographies submitted by their personal managers. This is the place to tout key details about awards won, records sold, philanthropic work, and anything else that might sway opinions.

There are six members on the selection committee, all of whom are appointed by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and can serve a maximum of two two-year terms. David Green, head of Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre, is the chairman, and only votes if there is a tie. The rest represent the core categories of entertainment: Di Bona (Television), Clear Channel Market President Greg Ashlock (Radio), Black Swan producer Mike Medavoy (Motion Pictures), Christina Aguilera manager Irving Azoff (Live Theatre/Performance), and R&B songwriter James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III (Recording/Music). (Fun fact: Di Bona, Jimmy Jam, and Medavoy all have Walk of Fame stars of their own.)

Stars’ applications are good for two years, but they can reapply as many times as they want.

(PHOTOS: Esther Williams, 1921-2013: Hollywood’s ‘Million Dollar Mermaid’)

reese

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Actress Reese Witherspoon, Dec. 1, 2010

5. Fight for prime real estate.

Historically, the most coveted star placement has been in front of Hollywood Boulevard’s Roosevelt Hotel (where Julio Iglesias, Meryl Streep, Holly Hunter, and Joan Rivers reside) and the Hollywood and Highland shopping center (Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Susan Sarandon). Now that the Walk of Fame is so big, however, celebrities should consider themselves lucky to get a spot outside the W Hotel, which actually has enough room to accommodate large crowds.

Of course, most of these placements aren’t controlled by the stars themselves. It was Martinez, for example, who put Farrah Fawcett’s in front of George’s Hair Salon in 1995, “because she was so famous for her hair,” she says. Kiefer Sutherland’s, meanwhile, was placed at 7024 Hollywood Boulevard—a nod to his TV show 24. Roger Moore, also known as 007, has a star at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard.

But if a star is big enough, he or she may be able to make demands: Muhammad Ali, for example, did not want people stepping on his star, so it was placed on the wall of the Hollywood and Highland shopping center.

Oh, and Clint Eastwood, if you’re interested, a special place is being reserved for you. “There’s one spot left in front of the Chinese Theatre and we’re saving it,” says Martinez. “He’s been approved, but he never set a date [for the ceremony].”

(MORE: Women, Now at a Theater Near You)

6. Throw a massive party.

Each star is unveiled in a grand ceremony, attended by the stars’ fans and other celebrities. The events typically attract about 600 people—unless the candidate is a Latin music star or a boy-band member, whose fans turn out in droves. The one for mariachi singer Vicente Fernandez drew 4,000 people, the largest crowd ever. J-Lo’s was also on the higher end, boasting 1,100 attendees.

These days, Martinez regularly gets bombarded with emails, tweets, and phone calls from boy band fans—so much so that she’s designated a special “corner” for boy band stars on Hollywood Boulevard between La Brea and Sycamore Avenues, which can accommodate more people. Some 1,000 fans—mostly moms—camped out for the Backstreet Boys’ recent ceremony, arriving as early as 4:00 a.m.

backstreet

Jonathan Leibson / Getty Images

The Backstreet Boys, April 22, 2013

7. Remain on your best behavior. (Or don’t!)

When Oscar-winner Marlon Brando came under fire for making anti-Semitic remarks about Jewish people in Hollywood, some said the Godfather actor did not deserve a star anymore. But the late Johnny Grant, former chairman of the Hollywood Walk of Fame committee and the honorary mayor of Tinseltown, argued that celebrities get stars solely on the basis of career merit. After all, as Grant put it (according to Martinez), if stars were pulled up every time a famous person said something stupid, “we would have no stars left.”

MORE: How Celebrities End Up Performing for Tyrants

10 comments
JamesAlbertoSalazar
JamesAlbertoSalazar

I've seen the complete list of stars, and producing something iconic is not required.  If you consider being in The Big Bang Theory, and not doing much of anything else (Kaley Cuoco) as being iconic, then there's no reason not to consider Snookie or Kim Kardashian, which they said they will not do.  Last I checked, television was a category for getting a star, and like it or not that is television as much as anything else.

Granted guys like Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong did something infinitely more iconic, but they have stars under the television category....for one thing...as themselves.  Either give them another category, or you have to consider all genres of television just based on that, no matter how bad they may be.

Let's face it, the walk is a joke anyway,  they'll take their money eventually 

NickWallace
NickWallace

I swear this looks like instructions from the sims game

polarcityman
polarcityman

Time" dishes the dirt on Walk of Fame 'payments,' but there's more...

Time magazine recently claimed it got a scoop, when it had reporter
Olivia B. Waxman do a blog post titled "How to Get a Star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame" with the subheadlined: "Pay a $30,000
sponsorship fee, for starters."

But that's not the whole story and it's hardly a scoop.

polarcityman
polarcityman

One of the very good points of this very good article is that Ms Waxman does not mention once thankfully these PR events are "an honor" or an "award" as the accompnaying wire service newspaper stories always do. Even Piers Morgan calls them an award on CNN. NOT. Thanks to TIME for telling the truth here but not calling them awards or honors. They are paid PR events and the money is a tax write off for the studios and the money comes out of the marking budget of the studieso for hat stars newest movie so in fact, we the public are paying for these stars. Whoopee!

polarcityman
polarcityman

BUT OLIVIA,  TIME got the scoop from the newest member of the star selection committee: America’s Funniest Home Videos creator Vin Di Bona, and Ana Martinez, the Walk of Fame’s Vice President of Media Relations and Producer. BUT you didnt tell the real truth which i told at the WRAP a few years ago and lobbied AP to change the way it reports these "awards" which are not really awards. The truth, which is still cool, and I am glad you did the story here, is that the walk of fame "awards" are not honors at all but paid public relation gimmicks timed to be given out, after "buying" them, when a celeb has a new movie or book or campaign starting, so pay attention America. While the Walk is a fun tourist thing, the news reports should never call them "an honor" or an "award" when in fact they are paid PR gimmicks, and a win win situation for the Walk people and the celebs but lets tell the truth, Even you Olivia, kinda didn't really find out the real truth. Why not? Ap now reports every story this way while Reuters and AFP continue to fib it. Actually a savvy reporter at DPA named Barbara Munker did this story for the German news agency wire service in 2006 but it was never ever printed in any usa newspapers. WHY? google it. i READ it overseas in an english newspaper in taiwan the dpa story that is. AND Bill geist the tv guy gets an star that he himself paid for? and dear roger ebert his friends in chiago chipped in and bought him a star?

polarcityman
polarcityman

Stars won't admit it, but Walk of Fame 'honors' cost $30K each

by Dan Bloom




What do Tavis Smiley, Sally Fields, Clare Danes, Orlando Bloom and
Liam Neeson have ein common? All of them, plus a dozen more other
celebrities are in line to get a coveted star on the sidewalk in
Hollywood known as the Walk of Fame. But which of these "honorees"
will confess and tell the truth to fans and reporters covering the
unveiling ceremonies next year that they or their
studio/network/publisher/label paid for the star to the tune of
$30,000?

Who among the 24 honoress will mention this when they give their
acceptance speech, when they wax poetic and say how ''honored'' they
are to get this "award" and how ''surprised'' they were to find out
they were getting such a wonderful prize, as if they didn't know a
year or so earlier.

A few years ago, when I first started following this issue, I wrote a
commentary headlined
''Let's Stop Pretending Getting a Star on the Walk of Fame Is a Real
Honor'' in which I spilled
the beans on how celebrities today get stars on the Walk of
Fame in Hollywood. And I asked the national media to start reporting
the backstory to the
Walk of Fame "awards," since they are not really awards at all, but
paid public relations events. And that's cool. Paid public relations
events have always
been a part of Hollywood culture, and the Walk of Fame fits well into
that picture, too. But not one recipient has ever told the truth
behind the annual "awards," which are paid for in advance and which
even the Walk of Fame Committee which "selects" the awardess every
year admits on its website for all to see.  Who will be first to face
the media and their fans and confess?

So far, the Associated Press reports the costs of the stars, while
Reuters and Agence France-Presse do not. Why not? Why the cover-up?

For more than 50 years, the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been handing
out stars to stars, from Joanne Woodward in 1960 -- she was the first
to land one -- to Charlie Chaplin and Dennis Hopper and Bill Maher and
Penelope Cruz. It's a time-honored tradition,
makes for great photo opps, fits nicely into marketing and PR
campaigns, and it's fun. Everyone in Hollywood knows the backstory to
the Walk of Fame, how the events are part of the Hollywood tourism
industry and are paid for by the studios themselves. The money covers
sidewalk maintenance, the award
event itself, media outreach and other things.

But while the film industry and the news media know that the stars on
the Walk of Fame are part of a savvy PR enterprise, and not actual
awards or honors themselves, news outlets from Reuters to CNN
and AFP continue to play along with the award events and cover the
day's speeches as if it's a big honor. And the news photos
that go out on the wire the next day, reprinted in thousands of
newspapers and blogs and websites, make it appear as if Star X
actually won a new award. Isn't it time to stop this hypocrisy on the
part of the news media? Isn't it time for Reuters and CNN to
report the real back story behind the awarding of the stars each time
the wire photos go worldwide, just as a truth-in-reporting service to
readers and fans? It sometimes seems as if the media keeps running
photos of celebrities no matter what they do, even if what they do is
not so newsworthy at all. When does this news charade stop, and when
does better reporting begin? In the Internet age, which the true story
about the paid nature of the stars available even on Wikipedia, the
media still pretends there are real awards.

When I asked the Associated Press wire service in New York and Los Angeles
if its reporters could start covering the Walk of Fame ceremonies and
star awards more accurately, by at least
informing readers that the sidewalk stars cost $30,000 and are paid
for by the stars themselves or their studios, An AP editor heard me
out and wrote back, noting: "You've made an interesting point
about how the media reports the Walk of Fame ceremonies. If your facts
are correct, you’re exactly right that we should add that context
[that the star ceremony is a paid publicity event]. I’ll pass along to
our entertainment editor."

He did and now AP reports the facts.

When  Shakira
got her star on the Walk of Fame a few years ago, the very last paragraph
of a very thorough news story by AP reporter Edwin Tamara said: "A
committee selects celebrities eligible for a Walk of Fame star and
those who accept pay US$30,000 in costs and fees."

Telling the truth about the paid PR part of the sidewalk stars does
not dimish the public
relations value of the unveiling event, nor does it dimish the
celebrity's reputation or image. It's a win-win situation for
everyone: the studios, the stars, the Walk of Fame committee, and most
importantly, readers not only in America but around the world as
well.

Isn't it time for the news media and all media outlets, print and
online, to at least print one brief sentence that characterizes the
Walk of Fame events as PR and not as actual honors?

And isn't it time for the awardees themselves, from Tavis Smiley to
Orlando Bloom and all the others in line for the 2014 "awards" to fess
up and stop "pretending" how honored they are to get a star on the
fabled sidewalk?

When I told the late film critic Roger Ebert about my
lobbying campaign on this issue, he told
me by email to forget about it and focus on more important things,
like the way studios "buy" Oscars with fullpage ads in the trades and
other expensive marketing campaigns.

He also told me that a group of his friends in Chicago had  even once
chipped in and bought a star on the Walk of Fame for him, too, and
that the entire thing was fun for him, including the unveiling
ceremony in Hollywood.

And yes, long live the Walk of Fame. But let's tell the truth about
it. So truthteller Tavis Smiley, how about you be the first. I heard
Piers Morgan congratulating you the other day on CNN for getting the
nod for a star in 2014 and you said, "Thanks, Piers. It really is a
nice honor."

Who's kidding who?


PREVIOUS WALK OF FAME internet links:
http://www.thewrap.com/movies/blog-post/lets-stop-pretending-getting-star-walk-fame-honor-28242


link to AP story: with last graph:
http://www.chinapost.com.tw/art/celebrity-news/2011/11/10/322498/Shakira-enshrined.htm

==============
Dan Bloom is a freelance writer in Taiwan.

coolbee
coolbee

If I could spend one week in Hollywood.My life will be different and i will feel like brand new me.