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She meets John Niven, author of the music business satire
Kill Your Friends, and the rapper 50 Cent - and this episode does contain
some strong language. In my job I regularly meet people whose lives
are splashed all over the Internet and newspapers. One day you are
heart and the next, well... Fame is a bizarre and fascinating thing. For
my edition of Artsnight I will get behind the machine of celebrity and
find out why people won fame and how to get famous and most importantly
how to stay famous. The fame game is a multi-million pound industry and
it is not just faces that change from month to month and year to year
but the game itself. Welcome to my Artsnight.
# I don't know what you heard about me... One guy who knows what it is
to have everyone know his name is 50 cents or Fiddy. He is still one of
the bestselling wrappers of all time. -- is 50 Cent. The fame game
was not always easy for Fiddy, he is in the UK for a series of gigs and
he is staying just over the road from Radio 1. I will pop over to
have a chat with him. The facts of his life could not be more dramatic.
Born Curtis Jackson in Queens, New York, he was bought up by his
grandmother after his mother was killed. By the time he was 12 he was
already dealing drugs. In 2000 he nearly died after being shot nine
times at close range. Three years later he released his debut album
Get Rich or Die Tryin' which was also the title of his 2005
semi-biographical film in which he starred as himself. The difference
between 50 Cent and Curtis Jackson, is there much of one?
You know, I have grown up with both of them.
The 50 cent piece is what it would take to get by in
I didn't swear in the house, I didn't say anything that would
indicate any of my activities that were going on outside.
My grandmother, every time they said I did something, she was like...
Curtis in the house and 50 on the street.
# I was innocent then, I didn't do no wrong... #.
You know, your life has changed drastically from your beginnings,
did you always know that you were going to do something to get out of
your situation? I have addictive behaviours and I know that getting
high is not the thing for me. I will get really high. In the house I grew
up in, the alcohol abuse was always present. I grew up bright in the
middle of that and I was like, kind of dodging that. You are quite
secure in the fact you have not changed since becoming successful or
would you say you have changed? You become exposed to different things
with travelling and seeing different people. It makes you a broader
person. I kind of look at people who have it, like guys from my early
life, they just came home from jail and it's amazing because they are
exactly who they were before they went away, they did not grow up.
They stayed exactly the same, maybe ten years. You have held onto your
original crew from where you grew up but obviously with success, suddenly
I think other people would like to hang out with you. Did you find out
about actresses wanting to date you or athletes hanging out with you at
a party, how did you approach that? At first you keep your distance from
everybody else. But you need to have people around you with their own
success and have similar problems. You are a world famous name, so how
does that affect your day-to-day life like going to the gym running
to get a coffee? What a shot interaction with the public alike?
-- what is your interaction like? You try to keep away from the
general public because when you are successful, you become a target.
# It's your birthday, we are going to party like it's your
birthday,... # Would the young Curtis be more
hesitant to enter the industry now? You find that a lot of young
artists, whether they are musical artists or painters or whatever, do
you find that young people now pay more attention to the celebrity
aspect of success as opposed to the work? Well, celebrities don't have
do have talent to be a celebrity. An attractive woman taking pictures for
Instagram can get a million followers, and she does not have
talent outside her genetics or maybe she has a great Doctor! Has there
ever been a point when you go, I actually don't feel like being 50
Cent today. 50 Cent is the superstar. He is the portion that
the world embraced. What's interesting is that when you first
come into music culture, you become your idea. So if you did not write
things that really relate to your upbringing or who you are, then you
will kind of be stuck there. You have an extremely public facing job
and people assuming that they know you. How do you not care what people
think? Well, you know that they will hate you whatever you do. If you go
left, there will be people saying, why did you not go right? It is just
because it is their perception of who you are and what you could do.
People feel like they are in a great space and they could do anything. I
have people becoming angry with me because they feel I could have just
made them a star. Can I call you Curtis? Whatever you like. It was
lovely to meet the man behind 50. I appreciate your time. Never before
has the world been so saturated in images of fame and celebrity.
Everywhere we look we are assaulted visually by photographs of pouting
or perhaps perfect figures. Brand-new magazines every day and
new gossip every day and new columns and with that demand comes at a need
for a lot of photos and I mean a lot. I wonder exactly what lengths a
photographer will go to to get the perfect celebrity shot. To find out
more I'm going to the Getty images gallery to meet Dave Bennett, I like
to call him the mobile Mario test Eno. He is a master of photography
and if anyone understands the changing face of fame it is him.
It's nice to see you. Without a camera! That makes a change. Just
surrounded by photos instead. These are incredible photos, moments in
pop culture that no one can forget. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman where
the power couple. This was taken in London coming out of a restaurant in
Mayfair. This is basically Tom Cruise telling the world that he had
left Mimi Rodgers and was now dating Nicole Kidman. It has been used now
ever since then all the time and everybody does it. They just go out
and take the new girl to a popular haunt. And that will be that. I'm
sure you can tell and you must know when you see people pretending that
they don't know they are being photographed, have you managed to
get a bit of an indicator? Anyone who is anywhere near us, they know
that we know that they know. We have been on the red carpet. Liz Hurley
was photographed by 40 photographers all evening. Then we came to the
party, and I knew that there was something missing, something that
she wanted to give. At the in and out club I got there ahead of her. I
just went, Liz, and Hugh does not even know the photo is being taken.
She was totally ready. Would you say you did not need any particular
tricks to get people to let their guard down? We were not long lens
guys, we were not in bushes. It was quieter then. The paparazzi would
have been ten guys, normally only three or four. The availability of
Camrys and digital -- cameras increased the amount of
photographers. 30 or 40 guys might be outside a party. There is no way
you can get a good picture. It is going to be a ruck. From the moment
that the star comes out the door. The face of fame has changed a lot
since Dave began his career and what it means to be a celebrity has
transformed beyond belief. The interest in celebrity has become a
professional activity involving thousands of pounds, millions of
pounds. Like all professional activities involving people you have
to keep turning the wheel and bringing in new episodes to try to
gain audience attraction. You have various celebrity stunts being
performed in order to get us interested. Part of the celebrities
don't issue is that the paparazzi create situations where stunts can
occur and they organise scandalous situations, situations which may
lead to a breakdown in ordinary interaction in order to generate
news. It is not just talented actors or royals that are the subject of
relentless paparazzi attention today, we increasingly see the lives
of previously ordinary people gaining more scrutiny from one
lenses. I'm about to have a conversation with Rob Cooper who is
a celebrity manager and he is known for making sure that his clients get
in the paper. Some of his clients are a bit vulnerable and I'm
apprehensive about that which is why I want him to see what his methods
are and what lengths he will go to to sure that his name is get kept in
the paper. -- to make sure. You need to tweet. We should put in a
spelling mistake because people might take the piss out of you. In
this unnerving documentary we see Rob working with Josie Cunningham
who has been in the headlines but the wrong reasons. Rob got in touch
when she first came to prominence after a story about her NHS funded
breast enlargement. People like to feel better about their own life,
they like to read about her life and then say... Did you read this? They
want to think they are above this person. We are picking up the
Czechs, that's fine. -- cheques. All of these are tactics to maximise
interest in her story. When it comes to your job do you ever your ethics?
I might feel a little bit guilty. If I met someone and tried to put them
out there without insight, I might feel guilty. But if I'm telling them
what might happen, there is only so much I can do and I should not how
to take responsibility, if they are switched on, that is their choice.
Every day when we walk to work and we are going about our daily
business, we are assaulted with thousands if not hundreds of
thousands of images of people from the public eye whether it is on
blogs or magazines or TV, it is everywhere and you can't escape it.
What do you do to make sure you get your clients out there?
If there are too many photos of someone out there, we will change
their hair or something like that. You might have somebody wearing the
same track suit every when they do the school run, because no paparazzi
is going to turn up outside your house every day to get the same
shot. You do that and the paparazzi do not hound you too much. We will
only do it on a certain situation, with a badge or a hat, so that
picture is pretty much just for one story and can't be used again after.
When it comes to your clients, would you say that any of them are decent
role models. Let's take a look at Josie for example, would you say she
is a role model? I'm not going to lie, it is a Perin's responsibility
to raid their children and teach them right from wrong. You don't
pass the buck to someone in the limelight, do your job as a parent
and your children will be fine. Josie Cunningham ten years ago,
would she have been as notorious as she is now? I would say ten years
ago she probably would not have been famous and in ten years time she
wouldn't be famous. It's purely about the time of the transition
from print to online. It's all how much she wants it. At the moment I
would say she is happy with what she's done. Meeting Rob was
certainly an education. Even though I work in this industry and I'm
quite aware of media manipulation, I was enlightened by Rob. I didn't
realise just how much goes into those tiny little pictures you might
see in the corner of a blog or a magazine, a lot goes into them and I
think it's safe to say that with people like Rob around, the industry
of celebrity isn't going bust any time soon.
Camden Town. In the 90s, this was the spiritual home of Britpop, a
music scene that gave rise to a scandalous book about the industry.
Kill Your Friends was written by disenchanted PR man Jonathan. This
is what I do, I listen to music, singers and songwriters, is decide
which ones stand a good chance of commercial success. Sound easy? Get
fucked. You wouldn't last ten minutes.
I met John... Do your member your first job in the music industry? I
have this image of you wide-eyed, OK music industry, I'm ready for you. I
would like to think there was a time when I was wide-eyed and innocent,
but I felt a bit like the vegetarian working in the slaughterhouse.
Beneath your feet you can see sharks circling. These are your colleagues,
your friends. Welcome to the music industry. Kill Your Friends is now a
film as the sociopathic star... I wrote the book from the point of
view of the young naive guy who gets seduced and then disgusted by this
system. When I came back to it I wrote it from the point of view of
the guy who is in the belly of the beast but absolutely loved it and
was completely is unapologetic about his desires. How do you want to play
this? You be the enthusiastic music lover and bang on about the guitar
solos and I will tell them about the label. Why do people like him so
much? His character is pretty awful, he is a terrible human being, but
people seem to really like him. I think what happens
is that he will see some really outrageous things but now and again
he says something that is really right on the money about the nature
of fame and the ego of musicians. We enter into an uncomfortable
collusion with him because we think, I agree with that. As you know, we
will manufacture your records and get them in the shops, and that's
about it. We will interfere in every conceivable step of the artistic
process. We will force you to appear an degrading kids television
programmes when you are hung over in the morning. We will under account
you and charge you for everything up to the stables used to knock your
horrendous contracts together. Was there a fear about translating the
story from print to scream? It was always strange seeing something you
have written realised as a movie, a very odd experience.
You've seen the evolution of the industry since the 90s.
Would you say that that much has changed, really,
when it comes to people's attitudes towards what they want out
Maybe something that has changed in the past 20 years,
and it's a by-product of all of these reality shows, possibly...
If you want to be a writer, a musician, an artist,
then ideally you want to do the work all this stuff
like the red carpets and premieres, that is the effluent, the by-product
You then have to do that sort of stuff.
Whereas I do think that there is a subculture now
of kids who think that the red carpet stuff and getting
your photograph taken and doing interviews and pouting in front of
Anybody who does this will tell you that that is the worst aspect of it.
It's an interesting thing, that a lot of people genuinely seem
to want the waste products of fame without any of the good stuff.
Thank you very much, John Niven. I thoroughly enjoyed your commentary.
Now, if there is one thing that this entire self obsessive moneymaking
fame machine can't do without, it's the fans. Fans are at the heart of
the industry. After all it is their money that keeps the whole celebrity
shebang on the road. I am absolutely fascinated by the relationship
between the super famous and their fans and definitely how their
relationship has shifted over the years. Before, when it came to our
favourites, there was an element of mystery. But now we know everything
from their last dentist appointment to even what they had for breakfast.
And all change is due to one woman. -- come to the Madonna fan party.
Since 2003 the parties have provided an opportunity for fans to meet each
other face-to-face and pay homage to the Queen of pop. She was sexy and
fun. Because her music has crossed so many genres, it feels like she
has soundtrack our lives. I always think when I'm doing things, what
would Madonna do? If you think about what Madonna was doing in the late
80s and early 90s when she released In Bed With Madonna, the film, she
was attempting to portray herself in a slightly different light as how
she was seen on TV. Stripping us back to who she really was and what
she was really like, warts and all, that was kind of how she sold that
film. From that day, celebrities are now very happy to let us into their
homes, their bodies, let us see everything that goes on and it's no
longer scandalous in the way that it was then. But despite giving fans
unprecedented access to her world, Madonna really has remained fiercely
protective of her position as a cultural icon. She is still a bit of
an enigma, which I like. Do you feel like you know Madonna? No, I feel
like I know her as an artist but not as a person, which is how it should
be. But in the new world of social media, the staff and relationship
has entered a dramatic