As America’s appetite for celebrity reaches an absurd frenzy, greedy A-listers and Z-listers alike are quietly cashing in on the booming personal appearance market. Whether they’re mugging for cameras at booze-sponsored bashes (Carmen Electra), dangling like bait at nightclubs (Sean “Diddy” Combs), or gleefully performing the Wal-Mart cheer at corporate conclaves (Halle Berry), the industry’s dirty little secret is that you can actually pocket six figures for walking a red carpet, partaking of free booze, and—if you’re feeling supermagnanimous—actually talking to a guest or two. “Even that Jackass guy Bam Margera gets paid to go out,” sighs one veteran publicist.
These contrived scenes are the bread and butter of celeb-starved networks such as E! and VH1. The pie-eyed pics pad the glossy pages of Star, People, In Touch, and Us Weekly. If you’ve ever wondered what, say, Eva Longoria was doing at a party for a furniture polish, now you know. Radar interviewed corporate and celebrity publicists, agents, and event planners to uncover the price ranges of the most craven celebrity moonlighters. Whether they’re Oscar winners, overpaid athletes, or B-movie bimbos, they all have one thing in common: If you pay them, they will come.
So how much would it cost to lure Star Jones to an eating contest? An excerpt from the phone prank everyone’s talking about. (Read the entire transcript—plus a hilarious exchange with Anna Nicole Smith’s lawyer—in the November issue of Radar, on newsstands now.)
STAR JONES’S AGENT: Hi, how are you today?
RADAR: Hi, this is David Steven calling about Star Jones making an appearance at the Short Hills Country Club in New Jersey.
Her appearance fee is $25,000. She also needs a car from New York. This is just for a meet-and-greet?
No, it’s our annual ‘Bring in the Fall’ gala. We’d like her to give a speech about why fall is the best season. Last year Leonard Nimoy did 25 minutes.
On that topic? Well, if you’re willing to write it, make it as long as you need.
Would she dine with the guests?
I don’t know if she’d sit through a whole dinner.
How much would it cost for us to have her for the entire dinner?
Could she come for the cocktails, dine backstage, then come out for the speech? It’s hard to chitchat when you’re about to get up and give a speech.
Let’s say we do the speech before dinner.
Would she come alone, or does she go everywhere with the people from The View?
No, she’d probably be either by herself or with her husband or assistant.
Now, there is a casino theme. What would it cost us to have her work as the guest dealer?
Oh, probably another 10 or so.
Would she dance?
No. I mean, she might, but I wouldn’t put that in a contract.
The dancing would cost more?
No, no. [Laughs] How can you predict if somebody’s going to feel like dancing?
Well, I mean, we’re paying her to speak for half an hour.
She doesn’t get paid to dance.
She won’t dance with her husband?
She might. But what if she’s not with her husband? She might come with just her assistant.
Would she dance with her assistant?
I wouldn’t even ask that question. [Laughs]
What if we added another $10,000?
If you want to add that into the offer, you can. It’s an odd request.
So we’re up to $45,000. A half-hour speech with dancing.
Would we have to pay extra to have her husband there?
How much would her husband cost?
I don’t represent him, but I understand he gets around $10,000 for an appearance. He has his own career.
What does he do?
You got me. I’ll make it really easy: Make her an offer at $50,000 and say, “In exchange for this we would expect the following: a) 30-minute speech, b) dinner with guests, c) bringing her husband, Al Reynolds, and dancing, d) participating as a celebrity guest dealer,” or, you know, whatever.
At the end of the night, there’s also an eating contest. It’s paella. What are the chances we can get her involved in that?
In an eating contest?
It’s tastefully done.
I’d leave that out of the mix. She’s just lost over 100 pounds. I don’t think she wants to get into an eating contest.
Let’s say it’s fat-free sorbet.
Like a tasting thing?
Well, no. More of a speed-eating thing. Like, in half an hour, who can eat the most. Usually we do paella. But we could change it to fat-free sorbet, since she’s watching her weight.
You could request that, but I can’t guarantee she’ll want to do that.
Would she do it for another $20,000?
Hey, you know, [Laughs] it’s worth asking. But she doesn’t eat a lot, so I don’t know if she would want to be in a contest about eating as much as you can.
Would she eat at the party?
If she was expected to dine as part of this, she would. Yeah. She would eat.
She wouldn’t just play with the food on her plate?
No, no. She eats.
Let’s say there’s a brunch the next day.
What’s the date?
That’s a weekday. She’s going to have to be on The View the next day.
Oh, I’m sorry, it’s actually the 19th. I was looking at the Spielberg event. Anyway, there’s a brunch…
You’re into another day now. She’s going to want another $20,000 or so.
What could we do to guarantee her coming to do all this stuff? Like, what kind of number are we talking?
Make a hundred-grand offer and I’ll get her to do everything on your list except strip.
Oh, we don’t want her to strip. Please, no.
I was kidding.
Would she sing a cappella at the brunch fully clothed?
Maybe. Sounds like an easy thing.
Okay, now you’re messing with me.
No, I’m not. It’s just a fun thing we do, you know, to bring in the fall.
Arm wrestling? What else is coming at me?
That’s it. The dining with guests, the eating contest, working as a dealer, dancing, singing a cappella at brunch, and arm wrestling. So what’s the number? I want her to say yes.
I’d say $125,000.
And that’s with her husband…. What’s his name?
Not Al Roker?
No, Al Reynolds.
How did she lose her weight?
I cannot say.
Did she do what Al Roker did, or we don’t know?
She doesn’t talk about it publicly. She looks great. She will tell you it’s from diet. That’s why the eating contest is tough.
But for $125,000…