This recent article in the UK’s Sunday Times magazine is well worth a read. In it, Jonathan Foreman provides insights into the ways in which the power brokers of the talent agencies match influential charities with guilt-ridden celebrities.
I particularly enjoyed the following clips:
- “Over the last decade and a half, the agency foundations have grown in influence as Hollywood has become obsessed by philanthropy and social activism. It is now all but socially unacceptable for Hollywood big shots — and wannabe big shots — not to have a cause. Yet little has been written about the foundations’ existence or the power they wield. Hollywood agencies are famously discreet, even secretive, as they must be for their clients to trust them. It stands to reason that their foundations operate in the same way.”
- “Such is CAA’s influence that when the agency began to focus on malaria last year, this suddenly became a subject Hollywood people cared about. It was CAA that arranged for FC Barcelona to team up with the Fox soccer channel and to back Malaria No More, a charity that sends thousands of lifesaving $10 mosquito nets to Africa.”
- “Hollywood’s obsession with philanthropy may also be a sign of deeper cultural shifts in the entertainment industry. The screenwriter Lionel Chetwynd, a prominent conservative, is convinced that it reflects a profound change in the way that actors see themselves. “People become actors because they want adoration and adulation,” he said. “But these days they’re surrounded by MBA types, and it often feels like being an actor is an immature thing to be. Their agents and publicists are better educated than they are. In the old days an agent was a high-school dropout too.”
Who gains most from such celebrity endorsement? I wish it were really the world’s poorest and most marginalised – but I guess that’s not really going to be the case!