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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 10/30/2006

Comment Box: Hicks and Horror Flicks

By Liz Kelly

Speaking of Taylor Hicks... where is he? -- Snooty comments on Celebrity Halloween Costume Help

When I checked Hicks's "Original Soul Patrol" Web site this morning, I rolled my eyes and steeled myself to reading his updates without upchucking the yummy pumpkin muffin I ate for breakfast. Mission accomplished.

Hicks, of course, toured with his fellow "American Idol" contestants over the summer, but perhaps you missed his smash hit release: The Ford Motor Co. model year-end sales event commercial. Okay, okay -- his single, "Make You Proud" was reportedly certified gold by the Record Industry Association of America.

His still-untitled CD will be released on Dec. 5, just in time for the holiday season, but you can pre-order now at Be sure to spend a few minutes there dumbfounded by comments like: "Taylor Hicks has stirred something deep within hundreds of fans - a yearning for a return to REAL MUSIC. This CD will do so much more than "Make Us Proud" will make the whole music community sit up and take notice. Taylor is bringing real music back, and it's just about time!"

Also, this spring, look for a memoir from the steely-haired Alabama native. Or not.

Oh, his very own super-airbrushed official Web site is now live.

Dear Liz,
I'm an avid Celebritology fan and I hope you can answer a celebrity question I have. Why do celebrities need to release statements when they check into rehab? Take Nicole Richie for instance, we only know what she is up to because the paparazzi follow her around, but no one would even think about her if her picture failed to appear in the latest US Weekly. She could slip off to rehab with none of us the wiser. So why the need to tell everyone? What gets me even more is these celebrities are constantly quoted as saying that no one respects their privacy! Thanks for a fun column! -- Sara via e-mail

I'll do my best, Sara, but there are two answers to your question -- one simple, one largely speculative.

Simple: Stars have a tenuous hold on their public images. A somewhat insatiable appetite for salacious news has fostered an explosion in celebrity gossip rags, blogs and an ever-growing army of stalkerazzi. Sites like and The Smoking Gun have taken their quest for a scoop on the offensive, often posting primary source documents (recently Jayden James Federline's birth certificate and David Hasselhoff's divorce filings). So it actually isn't too likely that someone like Nicole Richie or, say, Lindsay Lohan could sneak off to rehab unnoticed.

The press release is one tool left in the celebrity arsenal that allows them to exercise the smallest amount of control over their image. Which is better for a star: Having Perez Hilton out your arrival at rehab or stealing his thunder by volunteering the news? Press release wins every time. There are other methods celebs use to get out their message. Nicole Richie has been known to post messages refuting false news reports on her MySpace page, Britney Spears allegedly favors "leaking" news to People magazine and, as we discussed last week, there is always Oprah.

Speculative: A more abstract answer goes to the heart of what drives a certain personality type to seek the spotlight. There are, of course, some celebrities who seem to do their job -- think Meryl Streep, Christina Aguilera, Tom Hanks -- and largely remain absent from the gossip rags and caught-in-the-act photo spreads. Others -- like the ubiquitous Paris Hilton -- seem to only live in the glare of the spotlight. One would posit that they receive some kind of validation from having every move breathlessly reported. In that context, the "official statement" takes on a more self-congratulatory air. Remember, these people live largely in an environment composed of 1 percent oxygen and 99 percent their-own-fumes. They are surrounded by hired hands and hangers-on who feed their egomania. So it isn't all that surprising that they assume we care.

Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who contributed items to the Surviving a Horror Flick list. Lots of good stuff there. Sometime this week I'll compile it into a nice, linkable item we can all add to our just-in-case bookmarks.

Some of my favorites:
-- If you break into a hardware store and make an improvised weapon using duct tape, 2x4's, and a pneumatic nail gun, you're guaranteed to survive until the end. If you are a fully armed a trained soldier, you're zombie meat.

-- If your friends or your children speak to you in Latin or any other language which they should not know, kill them immediately.

-- Stay away from certain locations, including: Amityville, Elm Street, Transylvania, anywhere in Texas where chainsaws are sold, the Bermuda Triangle, or any small town in Maine.

-- As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.

-- Do not, under any circumstances, declare that you do not believe in monsters/vampires/werewolves/boogie men/fluffy bunnies/ghosts/demons/etc. Keep this skepticism to yourself, for this will surely be the thing that will ironically take you out before the ending credits roll.

-- Don't ever read anything written in Latin ever. And for godsakes, don't do it while standing on a floor that has a hidden pentagram on it. And if you can't keep yourself from doing that, don't accidentally give yourself a paper cut and drip blood onto the pentagram-styled flooring!!!

-- If you are fighting vampires, consult the neccessary resources to find out if they are Dracula-type, Blade-type, Underworld-type, Buffy-type, Lost Boys-type, or Fright Night-type -- and adjust tactics accordingly. Nothing is more embarrassing than showing up with holy water and realizing what you really need is a shotgun that shoots silver slugs.

By Liz Kelly  | October 30, 2006; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Comment Box  
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