About this Blog

"In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes." So said the bleached-out, late lamented artist Andy Warhol. Having lived and worked in New York City, Warhol came to fully grasp the hold celebrity has on us. In this very famous sentence, he meant to point out that in a culture fixated on fame, many people will suddenly flash brightly onto the public screen, then--poof--will just as quickly disappear from public view--like shooting stars. Other individuals derive their celebrity from one stellar accomplishment (one hit song, one iconic role, etc.) that they never again match.

This blog is devoted to the one part of our celebrity culture that no one has written much about: temporary/one-shot celebrities.

The pace of modern life has quickened, and now we hear people speaking of someone's 15 seconds of fame. These "celebrities with a lower-case c" who will appear in this blog sometimes come to us from the world of entertainment, sometimes from the world of news. All are fascinating.

The need of our communications media for a continual stream of new material assures that we will have no end of colorful people who go quickly, where celebrity is concerned, from zero to hero (or villain) and back to zero. Now you see 'em, now you don't. What a crazy world, eh?

Temporary celebrities coming from the world of entertainment include one-hit recording artists; TV and movie icons who, although they might have had a great many accomplishments in their career, are remembered for one big role; standouts of reality TV; sports figures remembered for one remarkable accomplishment; and people whose celebrity came from one big role in a commercial or print ad.

News-based temporary celebrities come in many forms: mass/serial killers, other murderers of special note, sex-crime offenders, disgraced figures of government/military/business/media/religion, spies/traitors, hoaxers, femmes/hommes fatale, heroes, whistle blowers, inventors/innovators, and victims.

Celebrity Blogsburg will consider each category in turn.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand

Very likely more Americans remember the name Jeffrey Wigand because of the movie "The Insider" than because of Wigand's real-life role in outing the tobacco industry in 1996.

The part of Wigand was played by popular actor Russell Crowe.

Wigand was for about six years vice president of research and development at the large tobacco company Brown & Williamson. His hope was to find ways to decrease the health-harming properties of cigarettes, but, according to him, the corporation had other ideas. Wigand, who was interviewed in February 1996 by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, claimed that the company had actually boosted the amount of addictive nicotine in its products.

Wigand's complaints cost him his job and his marriage. The company sued him, but the suit eventually was dismissed because it had become entangled in the 1997 settlement (more that $350 billion) to resolve the legal dispute between the tobacco industry and 40 U.S. states.

Wigand became a teacher of Japanese and chemistry in Louisville, Ky., and has since lived in South Carolina and Michigan.

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