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Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America's Favorite Addiction

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  240 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In this groundbreaking book, Jake Halpern embarks on a quest to explore the facinating and often dark implications of America's obsession with fame. Traveling across the country, he visits a Hollywood home for aspiring child actors and enrolls in a training program for would-be celebrity assistants. He drops by the editorial offices of US Weekly and spends time at a labora ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published December 11th 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Kressel Housman
Even though I live in the Hasidic world where I’m fairly well-insulated from celebrity worship, my reaction to this book proves that fame still has the power to turn my head. As soon as I saw the title of the book, I had to read the summary, and as soon as I’d read that, I immediately got the book out of the library and put aside the book I’d been reading in favor of it. I whipped through it in a matter of days.

The book is very similar to the expose on the wedding industry I read earlier this ye
NPR producer and commentator Jake Halpern investigates America’s obsession with celebrity in this examination of what he refers to as “America’s Favorite Addiction”. Here, America’s children seem to be fame-starved and the lengths to which both they and their parents go to allow them to either bask in the light of fame, or hopefully to become famous themselves is both humorous and disturbing. The longing to share in the glow of prominence is certainly not a new desire and the author provides exa ...more
This book is ok. If you read media criticism or social commentary stuff there is probably nothing in it you haven't heard before [we are fed and consume the necessity of becoming famous; kids are more narcissistic these days; we're bowling alone and fantasizing about becoming stars to make up for lack of connections in real world; the Today show had more on Martha Stewart going to jail than on Darfur..............:].

Aside from the familiar big picture, some of the vignettes were interestng -- ki
Diana DeLaFuente
Great book about Americas obsession with Fame and Celebrities.
Dec 23, 2010 Lize rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
(From 2005) I'm fascinated by 'pop culture' and why it is so all-consuming for so many people. Lots of interesting stuff in here that I didn't know about, like the IMTA (International Modeling and Talent Association) talent conventions that attract kids from all over the country who are hoping to 'make it', all of whom come from local modeling and acting schools, which seem to exist even in the tiniest towns. It's full of interviews with and tales of agents, stylists, publicists and celebrity pe ...more
I picked up this book because I have several star struck nieces who like to keep tabs on stars with ET, and other such shows. There was some intesting info in it. And I didn't disagree with most of the conclusions, but...

I find it a bit hard to bite that what holds true for 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders pertains to adults. The polling of those kids takes place at a time when most of us had more time on our hands than we ever would again, no life experience, and relatively few commitments outside
From "Fame Junkies:"

[Hal Riddle, a retired character actor, grew up in Calhoun, Kentucky]. "And I'll tell you what: when you grow up there, Hollywood seems like a wonderful, far-off, never-never land -- a place of beauty and riches and everything else." He recalled when his father had taken him to see his very first movie, a saga about the life of Jesse James. "I remember that the audience was applauding these actors, and in my heart I wanted to be up there on that screen too."

When he was a youn
This book isn't as trashy as it looks. It comes off as a genuine journalistic effort to understand why we're so interested in the famous. There's a healthy mix of facts and figures with anecdotal interviews and studies. The author's remove felt forced and maybe even a tad judgmental at times; he seemed too eager to draw conclusions. That says, some of the anecdotes and survey results are interesting. I don't think this is the best writing on the subject, but it's not bad.
Elaine Meszaros
Halpern's wonderfully interesting (and far too short) book Fame Junkies explores the world of people drawn to fame. Divided into three sections, Halpern interviews and follows a legion of wanna-be child stars and their families, a group of celebrity assistants and a clutch of die-hard fans. Each group personally expends an inordinate amount their personal time and energy (and often money) to either try to attain a level of fame or simply to get near someone famous. The definition of fame, based ...more
Very well-researched and interesting. Also very disturbing in some ways, although not disturbing enough to make me cancel my subscription to People magazine.
I wanted to like it more... but it just didn't get up & move somewhere interesting.
Interesting read exploring some of the reasons why so many are interested in the lives of celebrities, including those wanting to become famous themselves, or those that simple want to be around the famous (i.e., celebrity personal assistants, fans/fan club presidents) or to BIRG (Bask In Reflected Glory).

I thought the aspects of "para social" relationships seemed particularly relevant, as described here: "The notion of such a relationship was first discussed by two psychologists, Donald Horton
This book was a mix of scientific studies on fame/celebrity with tabloid allure. I wish the book hadn't come out before the real onslaught of social media (are teens now all celebrities on facebook?) and would have talked about teen athletes who are convinced that they are going to go Pro one day (another huge fame attraction for teens). But it was entertaining and a different perspective.

One thing that did bother me, though, were the studies cited to back up the claim that being a celebrity is
Man. I've owned this book forever but could never seem to get into it and actually sit down and read it. The topic of celebrity worship fascinates me - the importance that we put on 'famous' people interests me, but I never could seem to dedicate the right amount of time to the book. Yesterday, I began the frightening process of reorganizing my books - now seemed the time to read it.

The book, of course, was surprisingly readable.

While some of the information in the book comes off as dated (and t
Arjun Ravichandran
Journalistic investigation into the various threads that run into the obsession with celebrity ; an obsession which has longed ceased to be simply an American phenomenon. The author visits a 'celebrity training home', a child beauty pageant, interviews several celebrity agents, personal assistants to celebrities and the like, in order to find the forces that drive this industry. He finds that the primary motivation for the celebrity industry is what the ancient philosophers have long held to be ...more
Cath Murphy
A book about our obsession with fame. In other words, you read this to satisfy the same curiosity that made Halpern write the book in the first place.

I picked this book because the blurb said Halpern looks into the psychology of our interest in fame and that's the part that interested me. The book is light on that part - Halpern spends a few pages arguing that celebrity worship is a form of addiction and moves swiftly on to anecdotes about the fame industry itself - stage schools, pension homes
The American Conservative
'In his book Fame Junkies, Jake Halpern offers a consistently well researched and at times breathtakingly Felliniesque portrait of modern American celebrity obsession. This is a madhouse society, hopelessly removed from any of its natural origins, hopelessly consumed by artifice. It is also the temple in which so many of us worship, perpetually prostrate to an ever-growing pantheon of false gods. At his best, Halpern pushes aside the velvet curtains of fame’s sacristy, where we witness its full ...more
The author takes an interesting approach to understand why Americans are so addicted to fame. Each chapter discusses elements of fame addiction including people who work as celebrity assistants, children who pursue fame via talent agencies, and the popularity of tabloids. I liked how he used research studies to bring a "scientific" point of view to the discussion rather than just relying on anecdotal evidence. This book doesn't paint a pretty picture of those who are obsessed with celebrities- t ...more
Cameron Gallardo
This book is about the entertainment industry and how stars are made. It talked about the journeys a man had while he was investigating how child stars and people became successful in the entertainment industry.

Some things i liked about the book were the characters. They were all very different and had very interesting personalities.

I would recommend this book to people who are curious about the entertainment industry. Also i think you should be able to sit through this book. The book had its t
has America gone crazy with celebrity worship? Halpern's book is based on an empirical study he did (though sample size was fairly small) of young people and how their view of celebrities has affected their views of themselves and of their futures. The most disconcerting part (so sad but you can't help but keep reading) is the last part about the woman who loves loves loves Rod Stewart. Even if you can't relate completely, this book gives you reasons to think twice about "going with the flow" in ...more
David Steinberg
Fascinating discussion of narcissism in American culture. From reality tv "stars" to Facebook and Twitter junkies, the obsession with getting famous is one of the biggest problems in society today. This book sheds new light on the problem and puts things in perspective by explaining the diagnosable mental illness that these people suffer from.

I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in (or nausea from) celebrity culture. Also something every parent should read.
I gave this book two stars because I really just couldn't connect with it.
Stephanie Miller
I was really excited about this book and I was hoping that it would be very interesting. Basically what I learned was that lonely people become obsessed with celebrities and that trying to improve kid's self-esteem actually makes them narcisists and that is why they think they're entitled to be stars. Makes some interesting insites, but just skim it.
Would have made a better article than a whole book. It's an interesting idea. Cody said he'd rather be famous than anything (rich, etc). Turns out, he's right with the rest of his demographic. Painting broadly -- the typical young adult today believes he/she is "special" and is, therefore, entitled to fame. The book explains, sort of, why this is.
Sep 13, 2009 Lori marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Seems well-written and somewhat interesting, but ultimately i found that I just didn't care. I have a passing interest in the lives of celebrities occasionally, but I don't understand the obsessive nature of this issue that (apparently) many people have, and I wasn't patient or sympathetic enough to read their stories.
Jason Hood
according to the Journal of the American Medical Association,"...the typical american youth will witness 20,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence on television by the time they turn eighteen"(Scott Stossel,May 1997). This was before the popularity of cable television. I wonder what those statistics are for today's teens?
i wouldn't say it changed my life, but it's interesting read. i would've liked to see more interviews about the characters several years later, after they grew up, hear more about adults that are fame junkies, not just kids/teens. overall, i read it, so i must have liked it, right?
David Perrin
Very good book. Well written and researched with good insight into the addictions of fame. He did a good job of adding psychological and other scientific research alongside the observations and interviews. Not a spiritual book but definitely has spiritual applications.
Hank Stuever
A very broad and almost impossible subject to harness; the struggle between finding new stories to tell and thoughts to have about celeb culture, as well as the struggle to find a balance between scorn and marvel.
Why would middle schoolers rather be a personal assistant to Beyonce than a US Senator when they grow up? The quest for fame, even living near the famous. This is a helpful telling of that story.
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