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Posted at 10:51 AM ET, 10/13/2009

Twitter -- Nothing But Trouble for Celebs?

By Liz Kelly

Twitter defector Courtney Love. (Getty Images)

I've long thought that at the intersection of Twitter and celebrities lies trouble.

Six months ago I asked if celebrities were ruining Twitter. But, turns out it may be Twitter that is wreaking havoc on celebs. Or, to phrase it another way, it's Twitter that's profited (from what must surely be millions of dollars in free publicity) while celebs have variously displayed an inability to spell, revealed outsized egos, publicly posted crazy rants and generally made themselves ideal candidates for parody.

Could it be someone -- either the celebs or agents working in their best interests -- have finally figured this out?

Will this week's desertion of Twitter by Miley Cyrus and Courtney Love be the leading edge of a coming mass exodus? Miley is rumored to have quit at the urging of suspected new boyfriend Liam Hemsworth and Courtney Love because of suit brought against her for calling fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir a "nasty lying hosebag thief." Lily Allen also quietly stepped away from the keyboard last month with this final post: "I am a neo-luddite, goodbye."

Not everyone, it turns out, can be an Ashton Kutcher, who rode the Twitter wave back into some kind of relevancy. Hey, that movie career may not be working out, but the man has 3,812,622 followers. But, as detailed in this Daily Beast piece, at least one PR agency is capitalizing on Twitter's buzz-building potential by offering celebrity clients lessons in social networking savvy:

Whereas once, aspiring actors were trained in poise, dance, and singing, now stars looking to make a mark are taught the valuable art of communicating in 140 characters or less. ID PR—which masterminded the Pee-wee media campaign—offers a presentation known euphemistically as Twitter boot camp to its roster of A-list clients, including Ben Stiller and Natalie Portman.

But celebrity Twitter accounts run through a PR filter tend to read like infomercials rather than an intimate conversation or peek behind the curtain -- which is what we really want, right? To wit, William Shatner seems to confine his tweets to promoting upcoming personal appearances ("I'll be appearing at Dragon con over the next couple days.") Maybe that's why the man only has a touch over 120,000 followers. And, in a big-time PR backfire, Hugh Jackman was busted last year when fans found out an employee, and not Jackman himself, was actually posting to his account. Jackman's feed has been dormant since May, when he was rushing around to promote his then-new film "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

And his isn't the only celeb account that hasn't been updated in months (I'm looking at you, Larry David). Not an ideal fan experience for those of us just waiting for LD to drop some funny.

Still, virtual silence might be a welcome change for publicists saddled with mitigating the damage done by their tweeting clients. Transgressions ranging from accusing one's boyfriend of assault or threatening to commit suicide (Tila Tequila) to engaging in a petty war of words with another boldface name (Spencer Pratt) leave a lasting impression and can undo years of careful image building.

Said one publicist to the L.A. Times:

"Twitter can be enormously valuable as a branding tool. But like everything else, it's a double-edged sword, and if you have impulse control problems -- which strangely a lot of celebrities seem to have -- it can be very dangerous."

For now, though, the celebrity Tweets are plentiful. Good news for aggregation sites like and for our own celebrity tweet-inspired video series, Twits.

Will studios, talent agencies and public relations gurus get wise and start contractually limiting celebrity social network interactions? Should they? Weigh in below.

By Liz Kelly  | October 13, 2009; 10:51 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrity Life Lessons  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Heidi Klum Gives Birth to Daughter; Al Pacino Was a Male Prostitute?
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Celebrities ruining Twitter? Its pretty hard to ruin something that is already a ridiculous pile of naval-gazing crapola.

Posted by: jelo97 | October 13, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Celebs always get into trouble when not protected by a publicist. Twitter is just another means by which they do. Twitter is neither good nor bad, it is how you use it.

Speaking of celebs -- Dorkus, I just saw the news about Leslie. Austin won't be the same when he goes. So sad after we lost Jennifer earlier this year.

Posted by: epjd | October 13, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

What a shock - Twitter is full of inane blathering and self-promotion. Tell me something I don't know.

Posted by: jlc9j | October 13, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Its pretty hard to ruin something that is already a ridiculous pile of naval-gazing crapola.

Posted by: jelo97


Ahh, come on jelo, some if us Lizards are on twitter.

And yeah ep, it's sad to hear about Leslie. I've run into him so many times (the last time just a month ago at a wine bar). Austin certainly won't be the same without him.

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | October 13, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I decided to sign up for Twitter a couple of weeks ago to while away my unemployed days. I figured if celebrities could do it, why not my dog, but that got old quickly, there are only so many "tweets" I can do about the love of a stuffed monkey and the joy of going for walks. Though I have been trying to follow Questlove from the Roots...when does he have time to do anything other than twitter?

Posted by: zn123 | October 13, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"But like everything else, it's a double-edged sword, and if you have impulse control problems -- which strangely a lot of celebrities seem to have -- it can be very dangerous."


Posted by: jezebel3 | October 13, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

As a nontwitter, someone please educate me. Are there any practicle purposes for Twitter? How have you used it for a practicle purpose? I totally get the entertainment part, just wondering if there is any justification for it in my life.

Posted by: hodie | October 13, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Apparently I can't spell practical. I mispelled it twice.

Posted by: hodie | October 13, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

In a word:


Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | October 13, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Re: Twitter practicality. This is a bit derivative, but it does employ the actors Liz uses in Twits.

Posted by: northgs | October 13, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Thus far most of the "Twits" (as opposed to the tweets) are at least mildly amusing, which is a good thing considering all the celinedion there is in the world and on the interwebs.

The expansion and fragmentation of communication is a good thing. Soon everyone will be able to say everything about nothing.

Posted by: reddragon1 | October 13, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

And "Suspected New Boyfriend" is a great name for a band.

Posted by: reddragon1 | October 13, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

And "Suspected New Boyfriend" is a great name for a band.

Posted by: reddragon1 | October 13, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

As are "threatening to commit suicide", "nasty lying hosebag thief", and "PR backfire".

What is a hosebag?

Posted by: jezebel3 | October 13, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Practical use of Twitter--

Most companies follow twits about them. You can search anything someone puts an "@" in front of. So, say some dweeb at Radio Shack gives you the shaft, tweet about it and put a @ in front of the "Radio Shack" or any other project as in:
Bought new @Treo at @RadioShack. Box didn't have charge cord. Bogus.

You might get a tweet back from Radio Shack corporate office or the Treo folks asking for more details. There's a famous incident involving Popeyes and missing biscuits, but this actually worked for the hubs when a device he bought at Best Buy malfunctioned the same day he bought it.

Posted by: mdreader01 | October 13, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | October 13, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I use twitter (@elizardbeth) for a few things -- peeking at trending topics to see if something trendy or interesting is a-bubble, to follow local people talking about local things (festivals, traffic, bands at bars) and to have something cute to read when I wind up having to wait longer than expected picking up a teenager at an after-school activity.
Most celebs are pretty lousy writers, though. If you're looking to be amused, follow @paulfeig or @fuggirls -- people who write for a living.
And poke around to find your local tweeters, just for the handiness of it.

Posted by: otherliz | October 13, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

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