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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 09/ 6/2006

Celebritology 101: Why Ben Affleck Should Shuddup

By Liz Kelly

Warning: Viewing this picture may affect your enjoyment of 'Hollywoodland.' (AP)

In Venice to promote his new movie "Hollywoodland," Ben Affleck gave the press a piece of his mind about the paparazzi and how they are ruining the film industry:

"I think more and more people pay attention to actors' private lives (and that) makes it difficult to suspend disbelief when you are going to watch their movie because really what you are thinking about is whatever you have read about them in a magazine rather than the performance they are giving, and it makes the actor's job harder," Affleck said at a news conference. "The movies become incidental pit-stops and commercial breaks in the soap opera of their life."

I'm glad Ben said something because this gives me, and all other shame-faced celebrity scribes, the opportunity to turn our attention to Mr. Affleck, who in recent years made an on screen pit stop in the Razzie-nominated "Jersey Girl," a movie even director Kevin Smith conceded couldn't escape the lingering reek of 2003's "Gigli." (It is worth noting that Affleck would have been largely absent from the entertainment news scene for the past year or so if it weren't for his private life, which finds him happily married to his baby's mommy, Jennifer Garner.)

We all know where I'm going: Ben is full of [this].

Here's why:

There are pushy photographers who lie in wait for scandal shots and some scurrilous characters who will insist on sifting through famous trash cans, but let's be realistic here -- a star who does not want to live life in the glare of the National Enquirer and can pretty well escape that glare by avoiding certain Hollywood night spots, not making one's offspring a desired target, foregoing public drunkenness, leaving Perez Hilton off the invite list for family functions and not making ill-informed statements blaming the press for making their lives harder.

Following Ben's logic we're answerable for Lindsay Lohan or Tom Cruise's over-active off-screen shenanigans -- shenanigans which have resulted not only in increased press attention, but real world consequences like admonitions from studio chiefs and loss of financial backing. But, when was the last time you couldn't buy Meryl Streep's performance because you had a searing image of her pole-dancing on a yacht in St. Tropez burned into your retina?

I thought so.

So, in the case of Ben Affleck, one can only surmise that he will now exit stage left, quiet down and return to the monastic pursuit of filmmaking (oh, and never again re-ignite the rumor that he may seek office in Virginia). If he hurries, he can hopefully build on the momentum of the much anticipated "Hollywoodland" and perhaps, after a film or two, find his name again uttered in the same sentence as Matt Damon's.

By Liz Kelly  | September 6, 2006; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Celebritology 101  
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You go, Liz... These people who say, "look at me, look at me" and then, when we look at them say, " keep away, keep away" disgust me. If these people would think before they acted out in public, they could have a private life. Bad and unprofessional behavior will only guarentee them a swift return ot anonimity. Good riddance.

Posted by: vicki Pasadena, CA | September 6, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Dammit Liz, if you're going to tease us with Meryl Streep's performance pole-dancing on a yacht in St. Tropez you'd better provide a link! As to Mr. Affleck, his best days are behind him. I personally thought his career peaked with Voyage of the Mimi in 1984- he played a twelve year old boy like he knew what it was to be one. That natural screen presence has been lost.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 6, 2006 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Your skin has to be thicker than this, no Liz?

Posted by: AH | September 6, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

So I am thinking Liz is a little jealous of other people's celebrity? The paparazzi are out of control in New York, London and, of course, Los Angeles.

Posted by: chris | September 6, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Liz. Still sore from the root canal? Down girl....

Posted by: annie | September 6, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

what gives?

i tried to subit a post criticizing Liz and her celeb-stalking ilk and it wasnt posted?

is criticism of the author not permitted on this forum?

Posted by: dave | September 6, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

The paparazzi may be sharks, but actors like Ben Affleck, Lindsay Lohan, and Tom Cruise are the ones throwing chum in the water.

If the paparazzi are "out of control in New York, London and, of course, Los Angeles" (as said by chris), perhaps the high-profile residents of these three cities ought to try and stop feeding the animals. :)

Posted by: Ken | September 6, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Who takes anything Ben Affleck says seriously?

Q: What's the difference between Ben Affleck and a piece of wood?

A: At least the wood floats in water.

Posted by: Bunkley | September 6, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Liz, you cagey little censor, you

Posted by: dave | September 6, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bunkley....

not if its "Natalie" wood

genius, no?

Posted by: dave | September 6, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Who is Liz Kelly to tell Ben Aflek to shut up?? Is she the queen??? The Paparazzi and gossip columnist are out of control!! Movie stars can't fart without it being in the press!! Ben Aflek is looking for a home in Mass. where he will be respected and have some privacy for his wife and daughter !!

Posted by: Pat Webb | September 6, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Meryl Streep pole-dancing? Ouch, you're making my brain hurt.

Posted by: h3 | September 6, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Hey, we're the ones buying the US Weekly, reading the Celebritology columns, and clamoring for pictures of Suri. Celebs are the ones putting their lives on display for public consumption, then complaining that paparazzi spoil it for everyone. Liz Kelly isn't the couch jumper or dated J.Lo in on-again-off-again conjoined name relationship.

"The lady doth protest too much, me thinks." Ben doesn't have the good sense to sit down and shut up.

Posted by: Ken | September 6, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Methinks Ben doth protest too much. A good actor adept at his/her craft would soon make anyone watching his/her performance forget any private event/escapade that had hit the tabloids. Get a grip, Ben!

Posted by: pnina | September 6, 2006 12:49 PM | Report abuse

How about you take your own advice and "Shuddup"? I think Ben Affleck has a point. Maybe he's stretching it a little bit but he has a point. Why should a celebrity limit invited guests for his/her family functions? Does going to a nightclub means a celebrity should be mobbed by paparazzis?

Posted by: Bart | September 6, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Meryl Streep pole-dancing? In my dreams....

Posted by: BDWEsqTM | September 6, 2006 12:57 PM | Report abuse

So true, Liz. But why or why hasn't anyone commented on the comments of Julia (aka Elaine) when she cried to the interviewer that so many of those nominated for an emmy were from shows that had been cancelled and that it was so hard for her and her fellow artists. BLECH. As Justin would say, "cry me a river"

Posted by: get off the couch-jumper | September 6, 2006 1:17 PM | Report abuse

While I don't agree with Ben's hypothesis, I find Liz's argument and tone confounding. My understanding is that Ben, over the past few years, has been one of the Hollywood "stars" to shun publicity. Perhaps some actors are in Hollywood because they like acting (and the $ it pays) and shouldn't all be stereotyped as media-hungry "stars", such as Cruise, Lohan and Hilton.

Posted by: Jon | September 6, 2006 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Hollywood writing/gossip etc isn't anything new. Just watch "Singin' in the Rain." What a great satire about Hollywood media that is!
Another thing, will we now be hearing Tom Cruise complain about the press since he put Suri on VF's cover? I wonder. And thank god that baby looks like Mom!!

Posted by: Barb | September 6, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Well, you know what, he said the truth. Look at all the actors and how their movies did after falling out in their personal lives thru the media. It is not only their work but the whole package deal. Yes some of them are just idiots but truth be told, the media builds these people up to tear them down. Today, they are the sexiest woman/man and tomorrow, O look at their cellulite. By the way, nobody wants to see Meryl Streep naked. So it's not what/how she is doing but she just would not sell your magazines but Jeniffer be it J-Lo or the other Js, we will but the mags.

Posted by: Michael | September 6, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

OK, Liz, we get it. Ben Affleck is coming off of a string of bad movies so there(!), who is he to criticize anyone. I am certainly not going to defend anything he has appeared in since Dazed and Confused, (Although he was convincing as Matt Damon's simple minded, non-talented friend in Good Will Hunting), but Gigli and Daredevil do not affect the substance of what he was saying.
I happen to agree with him, except on one point; the job of the actor isn't any harder, but it is harder for the audience to immerse itself in the film.
Granted, I love pictures of drunk celebs behaving badly; but foregoing public drunkeness and avoiding notorious clubs does not satiate the public appetite, you forgot additional rules for avoiding paparazzi; never go to the beach, never gain weight, never appear in public unless you look exactly like you do on-screen, never been seen with a member of the opposite sex, never meet publicly with an ex, never wear sweatpants, never attend a bachelor/bachelorette party, never violate a traffic law, etc...

Let's face it, celebrity coverage is always going to be shallow and mean-spirited, and the Holloywood hype system promotes it in many ways, but celebrity jounalists and consumers bear responsibility as well and simply dismissing Affleck out of hand because he's been in a few bad movies makes that truth self evident.

Posted by: Ed | September 6, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Memo to Ben: stay away from Va.-8th. I don't want to have to make that choice on Election Day.

Posted by: Phil | September 6, 2006 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Okay I'm with Liz on this one. And the Meryl Streep reference is appropriate, since she apparently advised her Lake Wobegon co-star Lindsey to chill with the high-profile partying lest she risk limiting her career because audiences would only being able to see her in that light. But the fact remains that the photographers and gossip columnists don't force Lindsey to go out drinking nor did they force Ben to kiss J Lo's butt in her video. You can't give these people privacy if they don't act like they want it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Affleck has the most irritating screen presence in the history of leading men in well-funded motion pictures. In our MTV society, you MUST be *pretty* to get on TV or in the movies. Sure enough, Affleck is pretty. But there is nothing worse than listening to someone who is clearly in love with the sound of their own voice... and I'm deaf. So there's nothing worse than being deaf and KNOWING someone is in love with their own voice... unless you paid 12 bucks to get into the cinema. That would be worse. Anyway, back to Affliction. There is an ebb and flow to the "youth thing" in Hollywood, it comes and goes here and there over there years. Talent is the true harbinger of who will have lasting power. The world already has one Harrison Ford.

Posted by: Quo Vadis | September 6, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

There is no credibility in the media anymore. There is this underlying cruelty which thrives on breaking down those who supposedly made it. Then there is the "You owe me a living" because you made it people. The paparazzy and certain media types are an older version of the snotty nose neighborhodd tattletale. They can dish it out but cant usually take it.

Posted by: Incognito | September 6, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, I have always found Ms Streep to be very attractive, and would not mind seeing her pole dance in St Tropez, on a yacht or elsewhere.

Posted by: Jay | September 6, 2006 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"You can't give these people privacy if they don't act like they want it."

Do these people have to live like nuns?

I don't think anything Affleck has done can be compared to Cruise's recent behavior, or even Lohan.

Liz couldn't even make a valid counter-point without resorting to low blows aimed at his recent career failures.

As Homer Simpsons said, "Look, all I'm saying is, if these big stars didn't want people going through their garbage and saying they're gay, then they shouldn't have tried to express themselves creatively."

Posted by: Kris | September 6, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

But what about the film- the ad's make it look pretty good.

I had no idea that was Ben Affleck-so maybe my disbelief will be properly suspended.

Posted by: Jen | September 6, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

papaROTzy apologists, how quaint.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 6, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Ben's done the wise thing and chilled out with the constant publicity since he met and married Jennifer Garner. It will take him time and a series of good movies for people to lose interest in him as a celebrity. When he was part of "Bennifer" he and J-Lo actively sought out the media, via her music videos, ridiculous jewelry, and that horrible Barbara Walters interview (which I declined to see on principle). When the media-seeking seemed to work in his benefit he had no complaints. It was only after Gigli bombed and he started making horrible movies that he blamed his woes on the media.

Posted by: Lansing | September 6, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse


The moment you start defending Ben Affleck, your life has hit a low point. It's the equivalent of being addicted to drugs and you realize you're doing sex acts to pay for the drugs. That's what it's like defending Affleck.

He's a good looking guy. So what. So we're supposed to give him privacy? Why? Here's what he should do if he wants privacy. Stop appearing in public.

There. I solved his problem.

Ben Affleck is what guys call a whiny little b*tch who would get the crap kicked out of him if he hung around actual men.

(and let me say, not by me. I am a buddhist and I abhore violence in any form. I'm just pointing out the obvious to people who don't hang around men. Like most people here.)

Posted by: Bunkley | September 6, 2006 10:05 PM | Report abuse


The moment you start defending Ben Affleck, your life has hit a low point."

Guy, your'e what's wrong with this world these days. Suppose Ben Affleck was your brother, would you enjoy reading about his so-called mishaps in the tabloids ? Every single human being on this planet needs their privacy. Being in the Public eye does not take that away. Unless you and your media/tabloid cohorts decided to rewrite the constitution. If the Paparazzi could write about the mishaps of your Average American, they would never run out of stories. Let's face it the enraged Paparazzi are out of control ! They already killed Princess Diana, who is going to be next. If I was you, my friend I would check-in to the nearest anger/jealousy mangement class being offered at your local Mental Health facility.

Posted by: ziggy | September 6, 2006 11:15 PM | Report abuse

I was about to mouth off about how ridiculous it is that people get so wrapped up in celebrities' lives...until I realized that I started reading this blog because I was interested to read commentary on Ben Affleck. I'm guilty! Entertainment news has taken over the media!!! It's just part of our culture (unfortunately...)

Posted by: Stephanie | September 7, 2006 12:53 AM | Report abuse

"would you enjoy reading about his so-called mishaps in the tabloids "

Actually who cares? The only thing worse than being talked about it not being talked about. Like I said, if Ben "Block of Wood" Affleck wants privacy, then stop appearing in public. Simple. I solved his problems.

Oh wait. You mean he wants lot of publicity on his terms, just not the bad part that comes from it? Oh. Too bad. Poor boy. That poor, sad block of wood. How awful for him!

"They already killed Princess Diana, who is going to be next."

No, the paparazzi did not. Her drunken, stupid chauffer killed her.

Besides which, Pricess Diana is not a high point in the evolution of the human spirit. She was a inbred idiot. Didn't deserve to die mind you. But hardly the stuff of inspiration.

But what the heck... we live in a world in which people think Katie Couric is an inspiration to people, so I guess by that yardstick, Princess Diana was Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Posted by: Bunkley | September 7, 2006 5:04 AM | Report abuse

"Besides which, Pricess Diana is not a high point in the evolution of the human spirit. She was a inbred idiot. Didn't deserve to die mind you. But hardly the stuff of inspiration."

Funny I thought I saw Millons at her funeral...

I guess it's OK to ruin peoples lives just because they are famous ? There is Privacy and then there is a bunch of greedy nuts with cameras peering through your living room bedroom. There is privacy and then there are the snot nose "tattletale paid informers" watching carefully until some celebrity trips up. Who said that all public figures are fair game ? Who made that one up. Wasnt it the greedy media looking for a buck like hungry pigeons scouring for a meal ? What makes their behavior right ? Which law was written that gives them total access to a persons private life ? The Law of Money. Making money at others expense ?

Human beings make up all kind of outrageous and cynical laws. Its OK to kill jews, its OK to hunt down Indians, slavery is OK, They are so confused and inherantly evil that the line gets blurred between rigt and wrong good and evil. Sorry to moralize...

Posted by: ziggy | September 7, 2006 7:08 AM | Report abuse

"I guess it's OK to ruin peoples lives just because they are famous ?"

Whose life was ruined because they were famous? Nice straw man but not supported by any facts in evidence.

"there is a bunch of greedy nuts with cameras peering through your living room bedroom"

Really? Who? Where? You just made that up. And there is no such thing as a "living room bedroom".

"Human beings make up all kind of outrageous and cynical laws. Its OK to kill jews, its OK to hunt down Indians, slavery is OK, "

So you're comparing an actress (a.k.a. Ben Affleck) whining about not have enough privacy with the Holocaust? Seriously? And technically, the British did not "hunt down Indians". They were a colonial occupying power in India, and they may have been harsh, but to suggest they treated Indians as less than human is absurb. To this day, the Indians embrace British culture.

Slavery? No one ever said it was okay. Read your history books on the U.S. Constitution. You realize a million men died in the war to eliminate slavery in the U.S.

Personally, I think you're all confused. Ben Affleck is a real dope and he's complaining that he's rich and famous. And you lap it up like a cat with cream. But the reality is that the only stars that are being stalked generally *want* to be stalked by the paparazzi. Tom Cruise craves attention. He loves it. And if Benita Affleck would go out in public and everybody ignored him, he would break down in tears. He loves being in the spotlight. The funniest part is Benita saying "Oh, it makes it hard for the audience to suspend disbelief..."

No Ben, we can't suspend disbelief because you are a wooden actor. You're a handsome man, and I'd like your money and women. But let's not kid ourselves that you were an actual actor.

The only people dumber than Ben Affleck is the people defending him.

Posted by: Brad | September 7, 2006 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I don't want to defend Ben, but c'mon folks--doesn't the wackiness about Tom Cruise creep into your head a bit when you see him on the big screen? I have a difficult time separating that from the characters he portrays, and I think that's Ben's point.

Posted by: PB | September 7, 2006 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"As Homer Simpsons said, "Look, all I'm saying is, if these big stars didn't want people going through their garbage and saying they're gay, then they shouldn't have tried to express themselves creatively.""

Now there's some real credibility - quoting a animated character. Good God!

Posted by: BDWEsqTM | September 7, 2006 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"doesn't the wackiness about Tom Cruise creep into your head a bit when you see him on the big screen?"

Yes. On the way home from watching MI 3, I joined scientology (the cab went right by the center in San Diego!) so I could have all the same superpowers as Tom Cruise that he showed us in the movie.

Really, who cares. It's a freakin' movie, not the cure to cancer.

Posted by: Bunkley | September 7, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"I don't want to defend Ben, but c'mon folks--doesn't the wackiness about Tom Cruise creep into your head a bit when you see him on the big screen?"

We are talking Hollywood here folks. Donald Trump marries a girl half his age, something he has been doing for years and he gets his own TV show. What was it called "You're Fired !". For years old-timer celebrities including Tom Mcarthy from the Beatles have been marrying babes half their ages. I mean it comes with the territory. Back to Hollywood, since when were Hollywood celebrities sober role models ? Cruise got fired because he wanted a bigger take from the profits plus his Mission Impossible was a flop. In my opnion, the guy is too baby-faced and short to play a role like that. You need one of these rugged guys to give those action scenes some credibility. Next, as far as ruining lives, look at the divorce rate in Hollywood. Ben's own recent engamenent with J-Lo was cancelled because of all the publicity...

Posted by: ziggy | September 7, 2006 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line - if you become an actor, you assume the risk of paparazzi harassment. Also there are ways to avoid them -- IF YOU WANT TO AVOID THEM. There are stars like Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick that choose to live out of the spotlight and that's why you rarely read about them in the star magazines. Plus, I think the statement -- that's why they pay you the big bucks -- is applicable here. If you want to be anonymous, get an anonymous job.

Posted by: Elle | September 7, 2006 10:54 PM | Report abuse

The Bottom Line is who are the real winers. the Celebrities or the people who want to be celebrities or make celebrity money.

Posted by: trig22 | September 8, 2006 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Ziggy -- TOM McCarthy? ;-)

Elle -- some other good examples are Ed Harris and Amy Madigan (married since '83 -- that's eons for Hollywoodland) and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, who are not exactly low profile, but when they're out and about it's always for a classy cause...

Posted by: jmack | September 11, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

How ironic. Soon after you laugh at Affleck's poor track record as an actor, he wins the best actor award at Venice Film Festival. Does a good performance give him a bit more right to say what he wants to?

Posted by: MarylandWorker | September 11, 2006 8:05 PM | Report abuse

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