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.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Disgraced business figure Bernie Ebbers

Now reposing in prison on a 25-year sentence, former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers was, as of 2005, at least, at the center of the biggest corporate fraud case in U.S. history. Since then, that dubious distinction has been claimed by another Bernard, this one having the last name of Madoff.

Ebbers, a large, forceful fellow, launched his business career in 1974 by buying an old Mississippi motel. From this humble beginning, he built a chain of motels, and in 1983, he helped found Long Distance Discount Services, Inc., also in Mississippi. This long distance company bought up other similar companies and in 1995, became WorldCom, with Ebbers as CEO.

WorldCom bought MFS Communications for $12 billion the next year and in 1998, it acquired MCI, for $40 billion.

In 1999, Ebbers' troubles began when he tried to take over Sprint Communications as well,at a price tag of $115 billion. Federal anti-trust regulators began to intervene, and that deal fell through. When that happened, WorldCom's stock price plunged as well, and a lot of people lost a lot of money.

Ebbers resigned in 2002. The colorful Sunday school-teaching, cowboy boot-wearing Ebbers came under allegations of securities fraud and conspiracy that same year, and his corporation was shown to have engaged in what very kind people might term "creative accounting."

He was indicted in 2003, but charges were dropped. Ebbers was again indicted in 2004, and in 2005, he was found guilty. After his appeal failed, he reported to prison in 2006 and, barring a presidential pardon, will be in his mid 80s when he emerges.

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