I was intrigued to read in yesterday’s Independent about the splash Paul Duddridge is making in Hollywood. He’s moved from being an agent for comedians based in Soho to becoming a fame guru in Los Angeles in two years and seems to be making a good fist of getting numbers of the countless acting hopefuls who litter the staff rosters of LA bars and restaurants to come to his seminars in the hope that they, too, will be able to make Hollywood work for them.
The promise he offers is to make them famous in 40 days, if they follow the instructions in his two-day seminar to the letter.
“’I started out giving tips to people, and straight away, it just seemed to work,’” Duddridge told the Independent. “’What’s more, it turned out I was giving the same tips, over and over again. Now think I’ve boiled down my theory of fame into forty instructions, forty specific rules that will get you noticed.”
“He is, if you like, the sergeant major of a show-business boot camp,” says the Independent.
It seems to me, however, to be another Hollywood trawler net, powered by publicity, that might capture a star but is more likely to drag up shoals of fodder for Jade Goody-land, the sort of reality TV/brief tabloid stardom culture that is dependent on a constant turnover of faces.
Longevity is about talent, about originality. Yes, people can become famous very quickly, but their ability to stay famous is dependent on what new versions of themselves and their talent they can offer over years. As I have discussed in The Fame Formula, even the most talented need to refresh their fame every fifteen months if they want to stay in the limelight.
Duddridge’s theory of fame is based around Keanu Reeves. “’He’s a major, major movie star, yet no-one thinks he’s a great actor,’” says Duddridge. “’Even he may not think he’s a great actor. But I’m guessing people would give right arm to be as successful as him. My system that is more geared towards getting you to where he’s at.’”
Which is fine, but it should be remembered that Keanu Reeves started out as a child actor, has worked in movies continually, is rather handsome and has a screen presence, far beyond his ability to act, that any amount of training will not replicate.
I wish Duddridge luck with the venture, as well as the hopefuls he is teaching to become starrier in their outlook (to the point that one of the first things he instructs them to do is turn down auditions to test whether the people holding the audition really want to see them). But I believe that the global psyche has moved on from the bling bling nature of fame and fortune that has seen us through the last 20 years and that he won’t be able to utilize the old PR mechanisms to make this work in the way he might have been able to five years ago.