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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 05/25/2006

Paris Is Burning Me Up

By Liz Kelly

I'm a celebrity newsaholic. I scarf up miniscule updates about Angelina's pregnancy (she may be induced on June 3rd) and literally lost four hours looking through the wire feed of entertainment photos. This is some kind of sick compulsion, I know, and I'm sure each glossy tabloid purchased and hour spent watching E! is killing off brain cells.

Am I smiling because I'm paid to smile or because I'm paid so much to smile? (Getty Images)

I take some comfort in the fact that I am not alone and, like most of you who check in here each day, I do try to keep my appetite for celebrity news in its proper place. I walk my dog, pet my cat, pay bills, exercise, hang out with the husband and read most of the paper each day (note: all of these -- except dog-walking -- can be done while watching E!). Ultimately, I know that fretting for Jennifer Aniston's wavering relationship with Vince Vaughn or scoffing at Tara Reid is a form of escapism -- and we all need a little escapism.

But sometimes evidence of just how unbalanced that shiny bright celeb-o-sphere is spoils the fantasy and really makes me mad.

This happened today when I read about one Paris Hilton who was allegedly paid $200,000 for merely turning up at a charity event in Cannes. Yes, a charity event.

The world we track here in Celebritology is a crazy, mixed-up place -- award show goody bags worth thousands of dollars, millions-of-dollar paychecks, six-digit disposable income -- but $200,000 for showing up and waving at fans?

Hilton -- though I'm sure she's, uh, just delightful and whatnot -- is a vapid socialite whose only claims to fame are a string of dissed boyfriends, a ditzy reality show and a long-standing feud with Lionel Richie's daughter. There are degrees of ridiculousness and this is just off the charts.

There is a line for me, even if not for the person responsible for Hilton's paycheck, and it has been crossed.

Okay, I'm getting down off my soapbox now which is kind of precarious since it's sitting on top of a high horse. I feel better already. I'll worry when I start thinking that a $200K wave from a hotel heiress is acceptable. But a part of me, escapist that I am, hopes Hilton will surprise me by doing something unexpected, like donating that fat paycheck to charity.

By Liz Kelly  | May 25, 2006; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Celebritology 101, Paris Hilton  
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That's what we all get for paying attention to vapid hookers who happen to be rich.

The only thing I want to know is: who started the meme that Paris is really super-sexy? I run into girls in the gym nightly that are much more sexy. And intelligent.

Where's the beef with this girl?

Posted by: Well, that's what you get | May 25, 2006 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I read your daily article b/c I too am addicted to escapism! However, I'm sickened to hear that Paris got 200K for showing up somewhere -- at a charity event no less! That'll buy her a new track suit, I'm sure. I never thought she was a "good" person, but this sickens me as well. Just know that you are not alone!
ps- if you get a Vcast phone then maybe you can watch E! while walking the dog...?

Posted by: Sandra | May 25, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The problem is that all of YOUR actions inadvertent or not, contribute to Ms. Hilton's ridiculous payday. Its all part and parcel of the same warped reality.

Posted by: Grab a Mirror | May 25, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Your "column" helps to perpetuate this diseased obsession Americans have with rich entertainers. I would suggest quitting your job (if one could call it that), and doing something with your life that helps people that will never get their picture in the Washington Post or any other newspaper. In summary: your life is a farce.

Posted by: Emma Goldman II | May 25, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Donate? Donate? Do you have any idea what the price of gourmet Chihuahua chow is? Get serious!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2006 11:40 AM | Report abuse

u're right! paris hilton is boring... she's got no talent, no skill, and isn't too good looking either, does anyone even care about her at all? with all that money, you'd think she could get a decent boyfriend , too! enough already!

Posted by: normal | May 25, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Good grief! I love your column. Don't listen to these people who take the time to click on a link about Paris Hilton and then throw stones at the writer! If you aren't interested, don't click on the link.

Posted by: um | May 25, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

How about setting in motion a moratorium on articles and photos of Paris? Wouldn't it be great if all the major (and second tier) news and internet sources agreed that for a two week period no one would publish or post a thing about this woman? Before the moratorium was over, we'd all have moved on to the next bimbette and Paris would be reduced to selling her own x-rated tapes on the internet for attention.

Posted by: Terry | May 25, 2006 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Who cares about celebrity personal lives? It's boring.

I only glance at this blog cause you do Weingarten's chats.

I can see news about new movies and such, but why does anyone care who Angelina Jolie gets married to or when she has a kid? It's none of your business.

It'd be nicer to see a blog about veganism/vegetarianism/animal rights.

Posted by: cass | May 25, 2006 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I too, think your column is great! I am not as in to the daily live of celebs as you are Liz, but I come here almost everyday to see what you have found out today. Your column is a great escape from all the bad stuff! I really don't understand why people make the effort to insult on this site. If they really don't care, skip over the artice!

Oh, and I too agree that Paris Hilton is vapid, uniteresting, and unattractive. It is sad that someone like her gets to be famous. Hey Paris....dogs are not fashion accessories!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

i wonder about those complaining readers... why are you even reading this column then? get over yourselves...

Posted by: chiiq | May 25, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Paris Hilton's claim to fame involves oral sex, a night-vision camera, and the internet. That other stuff is secondary. Seriously.

Posted by: Bunzup | May 25, 2006 12:31 PM | Report abuse

How do we know that 200K payoff is real? I mean I can't stand this cow, but did she really get the money or is it made up?

Posted by: WaveThis | May 25, 2006 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I don't know. She kind of sexy in a trashy sort of way.

Posted by: Mike | May 25, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I would imagine that would qualify as a misappropriation of funds. Someone needs to find out what this charity is and go after the chair for allowing such a scandalous transaction (if it is real). People who give their time and money to charity have an expectation that the money/time will be used appropriately.

Posted by: Jonathan Piper | May 25, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I have a problem with a charity that would pay that kind of money to anyone. Is that what the contributors intended when they donated their money??

Posted by: Barbara | May 25, 2006 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey, as long as the girl showed up, she earned the check that was offered her.

who are you to judge? it's not like everyone who's constantly posting inane messages on a washington post blog during work hours is honestly earning every penny of their salary.

Posted by: OD | May 25, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

this girl is a retard

The Guide to Getting More Out of Travel

Posted by: Michael | May 25, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I can see why people drool over Angelina Jolie. She's hot, she's interesting, she does good things. Paris Hilton? I see 100 more attractive women than she is on the Metro every morning. I've never heard anyone say one redeeming or positive thing about her, yet she's everywhere.

Much of this, I think, is People magazine and the like deciding who is relevant.

Posted by: Jennifer | May 25, 2006 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Which charity was it?

One way to stop this insanity and the fetal alcohol syndrome zombie heiress is to put pressure on the folks who support her.

Granted we can never stop the latest flavored vodka from paying her to show up at the launch party, but charities need money from thoughtful, caring individuals who would likely frown on tossing their donations away so PH can get wasted and make another sex tape.

Please amend the article to state which charity paid her...

Posted by: steeltoad | May 25, 2006 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Paris Hilton is not only beautiful and wealthy, but she has pedigree! She's a Hilton after all. Do not ever forget that!

Posted by: laissez faire | May 25, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse


Paris Hilton is proof positive that inherited money breeds vapidity. Will this woman do anything truly worthwhile?

Posted by: Rob Busek | May 25, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse


That will be $200

Thank you.

Posted by: CT | May 25, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

As for America's obsession with celebrity, I'll bet anyone five bucks that at this moment, more people know the names of the five finalists on American Idol than know the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Posted by: Rob Busek | May 25, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

she has a pedigree...woof woof!

i know, it's stupid, but i couldn't resist.

Posted by: kate | May 25, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Frankenstein complaining about her own creature? That's too funny!!

Posted by: P | May 25, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Paris needs to eat cheeseburger.

Posted by: CC | May 25, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Hell, Paris just needs to eat something...

Posted by: Rob Busek | May 25, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Freedom of Speech
Freedom of the Press
Freedom of Religion
Freedom to Assemble Peacfully
Right to petition for grievances...or something like that.

and no, I dont know the last five contestants of American Idol. However, I like this blog.

Where's my 5 bucks?

Posted by: Burke | May 25, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Liz, you and your fans are freaking losers. You're vapid yourselves. Vapid, uninteresting, inconsequential, American Idol voters. There are real, serious problems facing this world, and Idiot Liz and her idiot readers ignore them and say, "Look at all the shiny things!" That's what makes a fish bite a hook - it's shiny. You've all got the same level of intelligence as a largemouth bass.

Posted by: Tom | May 25, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

But no one wants to hear about the world's problems 24/7! Get a life buddy. And I DIDN'T watch American Idol, so don't lump people in together.

Posted by: Burke | May 25, 2006 3:51 PM | Report abuse


Well done. The fifth (which is the least known, IMO) is the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

However, the bet was that more people in America know the AI finalists than know their rights as citizens. However, as you seem to be a conscientious and knowledgable citizen, I will give you the consolation prize: my respect. :)

Posted by: Rob Busek | May 25, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse


Indeed, no one wants to hear about serious stuff all the time. But Americans are experts at escapism, so much so that we prefer Paris Hilton to just about anything of any real value, whether positive or negative. It is that preference that needs to be combatted.

Posted by: Rob Busek | May 25, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse


Indeed, no one wants to hear about serious stuff all the time. But Americans are experts at escapism, so much so that we prefer Paris Hilton to just about anything of any real value, whether positive or negative. It is that preference that needs to be combatted.

Posted by: Rob Busek | May 25, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Uh hello, Liz is Chatwoman -- she produces various online chats, including Hax, so her job actually does help people who will never get their names in the paper. Not to mention she keeps Weingarten in check.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 25, 2006 4:19 PM | Report abuse

It would be interesting to know -- though perhaps impossible to quantify -- how much that $200K fee attracted in terms of new donations from Paris gawkers.

Posted by: Lite | May 25, 2006 4:26 PM | Report abuse

If you have a video iPod, you can watch E! while walking your dog.

Posted by: Steve Jobs | May 25, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Pulling a Randy Jackson ... "let's keep it real." It's not a mystery as to why Paris Hilton is popular. Her pedigree has little to do with it -- there are lots of famous "name" kids in LA that will never be stars. Paris, in particular, is popular because many thousands of teens worship her as an idol, and because many men drool over her body (maybe you don't personally, but enough people do to make executives want to pay her to benefit their products) ... and because she is surrounded by a team of pros who know how to squeeze blood out of a stone.

Whatever her faults, she is a marketable commodity -- and as such, she is news. If you don't like her, then don't buy People magazine when it features her on the cover, don't go see her movies and watch her shows, and don't Google her pics on the Internet. If enough people did that, she would go away. But we don't. We sit here and talk about her indignantly on blogs ... and keep her name floating out there.

Look at how many comments there have been to this blog - 35. That's an effective form of viral marketing. Remember, it doesn't necessarily matter if you like or you hate a star, as long as you preserve their name ID and marketability. You say you hate Paris Hilton, but by participating in this blog, you've made her even more famous. The Washington Post will keep talking about her, because talking about her drives up readership and bumps up the ad rates they can charge on this website. This keeps her name floating out there, and it keeps her viable as a celebrity. Everyone who has participated on this blog is acting as a publicist for Paris Hilton, regardless of your comment.

The question shouldn't be, why is she famous? That's a simple question of economics -- supply and demand. The question should be, what does it say about our national values that she is able to famous?

Posted by: Los Angeles, CA | May 25, 2006 4:36 PM | Report abuse

And to Emma, who wrote:

"Your "column" helps to perpetuate this diseased obsession Americans have with rich entertainers. I would suggest quitting your job (if one could call it that), and doing something with your life that helps people that will never get their picture in the Washington Post or any other newspaper. In summary: your life is a farce."

My response: Life isn't all Cream of Wheat. Life is also hot wings and beer. You're allowed to have a sense of humor in life, you're allowed to have a little fun. The Washington Post reports a lot of hard news, it's hardly a sin for them to slum once in a while. Nor is it fair for you to take a personal knock on Liz Kelly, when she's a productive working member of society. What gives you the right to be so judgmental?

Posted by: Los Angeles, CA | May 25, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Dear LA:

"The question shouldn't be, why is she famous? That's a simple question of economics -- supply and demand. The question should be, what does it say about our national values that she is able to famous?"

Absolutely right. When a woman of such obvious idiocy is adored by millions, something is rotten in the state of America.

Posted by: Rob Busek | May 25, 2006 4:54 PM | Report abuse

CONGRATULATIONS for finally saying what so many people think, about Paris Hilton. The media must be in terriby hard-up to cater to such nonsense. Thanks.

Posted by: Anna Henry | May 25, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Could you please tell the public what charity paid the little bimbo, or anyone else for that matter, just to show up so we can be sure not to give to them or if needed ask for money back!

Posted by: Philip F. Dolan | May 25, 2006 5:49 PM | Report abuse

You know, the $200K could have really been a bribe for her NOT to do another t.v. show. If it worked, it would be a bargain.

Posted by: CT | May 25, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Please tell us what's the charity so we know which one to avoid. I also read that she was paid about $1million for a similar event in Vienna a few weeks ago...

Posted by: mrndqwrt | May 25, 2006 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Why do you all contribute to this echo chamber of vanity. I do not have the vehicle or platform that is the (at least not officially, but this post will do for now) and if I did then I would not encourage escapism in form of "celebritology." My moral duty, as I sit atop this soap box perched upon the back of this high horse, would be to expose the reality of worlds desparately devoid of escapism, a luxury perhaps unknown to those of subsistence and oppression. So please read on young voyeurs and hope that the world you escape to can one day be your own. Until then please recycle.

Posted by: Paris in the Spring Time | May 25, 2006 6:38 PM | Report abuse

It's probably not true that she was paid 200 grand to show up at a CHARITY event. If they had paid her (so much!) they surely wouldn't want anyone to know, and neither would Paris.

But I still think she's great in her own special way! She is a perfect image of who we are these star-struck, idol-eyezd times.

Posted by: f0rTyLeGz | May 25, 2006 6:52 PM | Report abuse

News flash to the Paris haters:

Ms. Hilton is even more popular in Europe, Japan, Asia and beyond. So please stop just hating America for loving Paris Hilton. Hate the world for it!

Posted by: l'essence du coeur | May 25, 2006 8:10 PM | Report abuse

What's the charity?? No more money for them!!!!!

Posted by: hr | May 25, 2006 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Skank, (im)pure and simple(minded).

Posted by: David | May 25, 2006 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Say's who WE ALL NEED AN ESCAPE from reality ?! I gotta agree with "um" .... simply DON'T read the article if you're not interested. As for Paris being paid for a charity event, Soooooo !! I'm sure she's not the only celebrity that's done it. We live in a capitalist society. You know ... spend money to make money. Charity is not exempt.

Posted by: AntiEscapist | May 25, 2006 11:30 PM | Report abuse

5. Paris Bennett
4. Chris Daughtry
3. Eliott Yamin
2. Katherine McPhee
1. Taylor Hicks.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 26, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Just wanted to share with you, a piece of a piece by the late, lamented RADAR magazine.

It ain't just Paris, but I think she is the master (or should I say mistress) of the party appearance payday.

Posted by: Richmond, VA | May 26, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I think the saddest thing is, like everyone else, I just spent 3 minutes of my life scrolling through comments about Paris Hilton. I like escapism too, but this makes me sad. If you're going to escape, go ahead, don't fool yourself about it, but don't analyze it too much either, that will just depress you.

There are other kinds of escapism too. Like hiking, or painting.

Posted by: manuel | May 26, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Tom, ease up there! If you have better things to do, why are you reading this column and all these comments? Your high horse has just dropped you.

I really like the idea of there being a Paris blackout in the media. I wonder if anyone would miss her? I wouldn't.

Posted by: Doris | May 26, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Agreed: Vapid, useless, and undeserving of the attention. So how about you folks in the media deciding that you'll stop reporting on her? She only gets paid $200k by charities that are wasting the money of their donors if you the reporters write about it. If the tree falls in the forest and no one hears it... (No offense to the trees.)

Posted by: washington | May 30, 2006 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Paris Hilton

Posted by: Feeding the Machine | June 1, 2006 9:14 AM | Report abuse

This is the coolest La Cocina. nokia6630

Posted by: dianne | July 27, 2006 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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