USC Price School of Public Policy

Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity

Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity

By Ariel Carpenter

Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity

Celebrity, these days, takes on many forms — from the glamorous Hollywood icon to the irreverent YouTube sensation. And we follow with rapt attention every minute detail of their lives, whether they’re buying a coffee at Starbucks or winning an Academy Award.

In her new book now available at www.fsgbooks.com/starstruck, Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity (Faber and Faber), USC’s Elizabeth Currid-Halkett explores society’s obsession with celebrity and delineates why we anoint some as stars but not others, and the profound business implications that entails.

“Celebrity is everywhere,” said Currid-Halkett, assistant professor at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development. “Despite the apparent discrepancy between our most popular friend on Facebook and Angelina Jolie, these people are connected by an important concept: relative celebrity, whereby small-scale celebrity is a fractal version of mainstream stardom. Relative celebrities exist in all of our own worlds, in our hobbies, social groups and families.”

Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

Starstruck presents statistical research and analysis, including an exhaustive geographical study that pinpoints where celebrities should be seen – or not seen – to bolster their star status (spoiler alert: stay away from Las Vegas).

In Starstruck, the author conducts interviews with top agents and publicists, YouTube executives, major art dealers and gallery directors, Hollywood players and sports experts.

To view the video, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTSOxPh6Xu4

Laying out the enormous impact of the celebrity industry and identifying the patterns by which individuals become stars, Currid-Halkett makes the argument that celebrity is an important social phenomenon and a driving economic force worldwide.

Currid-Halkett, who also wrote The Warhol Economy, already has received widespread praise for her book by key individuals spanning culture and literature. Grayson Carter, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, wrote: “In the age of Facebook and Twitter, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett’s Starstruck is a breakthrough inquest into the rattletrap culture of fame. Currid-Halkett casts her line remarkably far upstream to hook her reader, reels in the true meaning of contemporary eclat and guts the residual billions that back it.”

The book also covers other topics that take the reader along the celebrity roadmap to stardom and acclaim.

She explores the new face of celebrity, which evolved from “the fusion of technology, free information and our need to bond socially.” This new “democratic celebrity,” she said, emerged from the culture’s insatiable consumption of reality television, the Internet and social networking.

Currid-Halkett also examines how a celebrity’s long-term success is measured and how that impacts the complex industry created around it.