They stay late at premieres

never far away from that last, lingering paparazzo. They take a gift bag—maybe two. No discreet “We’re just friends” for them, they mate and break up with each other noisily. They dance until all hours on the banquette at Les Deux Cafés or Bungalow 8 or wherever else was cool five minutes ago. They don’t hurry along the red carpet, cosseted by handlers and bodyguards; rather, they stop and smile and answer questions. They wave and wave—some even blow kisses. They’re working hard to be on a first-name basis with the world, even if they’re not there quite yet. But they’re striving. Ardently, publicly striving. They do it because they’re B-List—and that’s why we love them.

January 19, 2003, Los Angeles. An unseasonably warm evening—

aren’t they all?—outside the Beverly Hilton. The red carpet arrivals at the 60th annual Golden Globe awards are in full swing.

Oh look, there’s Renée, resplendent in tasteful black Valentino, stopping for an intime téte-á-téte with Richard Gere. There’s fellow Chicagoan Catherine Zeta-Jones, heavy with diamonds and child, following along. And—what’s that? Off in the distance, scampering ever closer down the lane, a twirling tornado of pink tulle, posing and chatting a mile a minute like a Tourettic ballerina. Why, it’s…Lara Flynn Boyle! Was she even nominated, to be cutting such a spectacular swath through the Armani-clad elite? Does it matter? For the next 10 minutes, before the curtain lifts on the main event, all of Hollywood will be talking about one thing: Was she wearing…toe shoes?

Almost. And the following day the rest of the world will be talking just as loudly about those shoes and the supporting actress from an almost canceled series on a second-tier network who wore them. This will happen long before anyone gets to why Frida was shut out.

Welcome to the B-List. Lara Flynn Boyle—and Tara Reid, Ryan Seacrest, and Kelly Clarkson, and everyone who ever appeared on a Baywatch—belongs to a class of personalities whose greatest talent isn’t their ability to embody a character, or design a handbag, or invent a cure for a disease, but to luxuriate like a well-pedicured cat in their hard-won fame. On that fateful night in January, Lara didn’t command the spotlight only to shun it like a baseball-hat-and-sunglasses-clad Jerry Seinfeld. She relished it as if it were going out of style.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. B-Listers are a refreshing antidote to A-Listers, who, frankly, have become a tedious pain in the ass. Where the A’s are demanding and spoiled and wear their celebrity like a hair shirt, the B’s are accessible, attention-hungry eager beavers.