TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: It is better to be worst-dressed thanunaddressed in Hollywood

There was a coterie of nervous Hollywood publicists last week

anxiously awaiting the results of The List. None of them relished the

thought of having to inform their clients that they were on it. The List

is to celebrities what the FBI's "Most Wanted" is to criminals. What the

fat content label on premium ice cream is to dieters.



It is, of course, Mr. Blackwell's infamous "10 Worst Dressed List." (If

you've watched any awards show, you're probably wondering why he stops

at only ten.) This year's list contained several expected culprits, such

as repeat offenders Britney and Bjork. But there were a few surprises -

and I don't envy the poor publicists who had to break the news to the

likes of Destiny's Child and Anne Robinson that they now belonged to the

sorority of the fashionably challenged.



I had the pleasure of sitting next to Mr. B at a Variety Club event a

few years back, and yes, he was smartly, though perhaps overly,

dressed.



I found him to be quiet but pleasant. I therefore, reluctantly, opted

against asking him a few pointed questions: What is your first name,

anyway?



What do you do the entire rest of the year when you're not making that

list? I mean, how long does that take, 20 minutes?



Blackwell, (excuse me, Mr. Blackwell) gets an enormous shot of publicity

for issuing his List. In fact, it's the only time all year we seem to

hear about him. If The List is good publicity for Mr. Blackwell, maybe

it's not really so bad for the celebrity listees either. After all,

Britney is usually criticized for what she isn't wearing, so this "Worst

Dressed" distinction has to be considered a somewhat refreshing change

for her.



If you remain unconvinced about the upside of negative publicity, look

at all the attention CNN's Paula Zahn got when the network announced

they were pulling a controversial promo spot touting her sexiness.



They got more attention from pulling the ad than airing it. What they

seem to be pulling is our leg. I'd like to think the whole thing was the

work of a devious PR genius, but that's just the romantic in me.



Publicity gimmicks like Mr. Blackwell's List and Paula Zahn's sexiness

are among those frivolous things that were supposed to have become

extinct in our "changed" post-September 11 society. (I'm sure we've

changed: the media keeps telling us so). From what I can see, frivolity

has survived far better than expected. Perhaps that's as it should be.

After all, if we aren't free to wallow in our shallow culture, then the

terrorists win.



But as far as The List goes, I think the Blackwell has run dry, giving

Anne Robinson the eloquent last word: "Goodbye."



At least until next year.



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