Celebritology 2.0: Extreme Fans

Posted at 12:49 PM ET, 12/08/2010

Man changes his name to 'Captain Awesome': What would you choose?

Oregon native Douglas Allen Smith Jr. officially changed his name to "Captain Awesome" last month. The inspiration, of course, comes from the brother-in-law of one Chuck Bartowski, aka TV's "Chuck," who is fortunate enough to be related to the cardiologist and champion of all things awesome. According to Oregon's Register-Guard, "Captain" is the former Smith's official new first name while "Awesome" is the surname; in a recent interview, he introduced himself by saying, "Hi! I'm Captain." The out-of-work cabinet installer also officially changed his signature to a smiley face. Actor Ryan McPartlin, "Chuck's" Captain Awesome: This got Jen and I thinking about what fictitious names we'd assume if, like Awesome, we ever feel a need to take on new identities based on pop culture characters. Correction: when we feel a need to take on new identities based on pop culture characters. We'll share our choices after the jump, but ask...

By Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney  |  12:49 PM ET, 12/08/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 01/07/2010

Nic Cage as everyone

Nicolas Cage as Napoleon Bonaparte. (Courtesy niccageaseveryone.blogspot.com) In my dotage, I may just open a museum dedicated to fan art -- step right up to see the NSFW Britney giving birth sculpture... right this way for the the life's work of the Etch-a-Sketchist... and, through this door, St. Angelina presides over aisle no. 31. Sitting at the intersection of adoration and creativity, could there be a more perfect expression of our celebrity veneration than fan art? Fan art is a genre that keeps on giving. And, last November, the latest edition to this blossoming genre surfaced in the form of the site Nic Cage as Everyone a site which, as you'd imagine, showcases tweaked images in which Nicolas Cage -- he of the up-down movie career and killer debt -- becomes everyone from Hulk Hogan to Gandalf. And, far from running out of steam, the site's pace has only...

By Liz Kelly  |  12:00 PM ET, 01/07/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:33 AM ET, 10/21/2009

In pursuit of celebs with OMGICU

(Courtesy OMGICU.com) OMGICU is social networking for the star struck -- a Web site and companion mobile app -- that lets users report often breathless celebrity sightings (similar to the oft-criticized Gawker Stalker, but without the maps) and follow sightings for specific stars. The usual suspects -- "Gossip Girl" cast members, Adrian Grenier -- are represented, but I was amused to see the unlikely inclusion of Sam Waterston (spotted once, dining alone and looking younger in person), Olympia Dukakis ("Foxy, old, diabetic.") and Paul Giamatti ("Shuffling along 6th & 20th.") The site is also partly responsible for bringing "30 Rock's" Tracy Morgan to Twitter. OMGICU founder Hugh Dornbush created this video and the Web site twacy.org to petition Morgan to take up tweeting. It worked -- Morgan is now a-tweet and OMGICU's traffic is up. Last week, I corresponded with Dornbush about the site and celebrity stalking: Liz Kelly:...

By Liz Kelly  |  11:33 AM ET, 10/21/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:10 AM ET, 08/19/2009

Going Full Tilt for Bill Paxton

(Image courtesy benheck.com) Updated 3:45 p.m. ET -- scroll down for new must-read details about the Bill Paxton pinball machine. I learned early on that no good can come from slagging Bill Paxton, and none too soon. Shortly after I dismissed Paxton as no more than a guy who played a surfer dude in every single movie, I became a late-blooming fan thanks to his portrayal of polygamous everyman Bill Henrickson on HBO's "Big Love." So it is with pleasure that I present the Bill Paxton pinball machine, a labor of love for gamer and modder Benjamin J. Heckendorn who we should all thank for not being unduly enamored of Jeremy Piven or Pete Wentz. But why Paxton? Explains Heckendorn who, in a blog post, says he always wanted to build a pinball machine from scratch: Well it's as good a theme as any -- I guess I could...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:10 AM ET, 08/19/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 08/13/2009

Shiantology: The Cult of LaBeouf

(Image courtesy Shiantology.com) I think it's fair to say that many of us deify celebrities. Me, I'm currently worshipping at the altar of Jon Hamm. But Shia LaBeouf lovers Jennifer and Betsy (who don't want their last names included here) channeled their celeb crush into Internet phenomenon du jour Shiantology.com -- a site that not only tracks the "Transformers" star, but elevates him -- literally -- to godlike status. Last week, I corresponded with the surprisingly sane Jennifer and Betsy to get the site's "creashian" (sorry) story. Read on... Liz: Why Shia LaBeouf? Jennifer and Betsy: We couldn't resist those Jewish curls, his fondness for iced tea and plaid shirts and those kind eyes that reach into your soul. Plus we feel like [with] his off-beat humor (um, Playboy interview, anyone?) [he] would think it's hilarious. A bit creepy, maybe. But he loves a good creep. Liz: Why religious...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:43 AM ET, 08/13/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:01 AM ET, 08/21/2008

David Hasselhoff: Social Networking Pioneer

HoffSpace is a place where fans of Himself can congregate to exchange Hoff stories, share varying degrees of Hoff-mania and, under the rubric of a love for all things Hasselhoffian, "make the world a better place."

By Liz Kelly  |  10:01 AM ET, 08/21/2008 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 07/29/2008

Celeb-Centric Art: The Etch-A-Sketchist

After news broke that Estelle Getty had passed away last week, the Etch-A-Sketchist got to work. (Image courtesy the Etch-A-Sketchist) Since my taste tends to run to the kitschy, some of my favorite art is celebrity inspired. I would be the first to dismiss my tabloid taste as lowbrow, if it weren't for the fact that Andy Warhol, too, found beauty in the faces of the famous -- beauty and something more: social commentary in its most bald (and bold) faced form. And so it is in the finest tradition of Warhol that we should view the work of the shadowy Etch-A-Sketchist, who has been rendering the faces of celebrities in aluminum powder since early 2007. Though, unlike Warhol's iconic works -- which now auction for millions, the Etch-A-Sketchist's works are fleeting -- each one disappearing back into the clouds of silvery dust inside the familiar red-framed toy, only...

By Liz Kelly  |  11:15 AM ET, 07/29/2008 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 11/08/2007

Doubletake: Celebrity Clones as Art

A Bush-a-like takes on the Rubik's Cube. (TASCHEN) Artist Alison Jackon's work gives one pause, to put it mildly. The British artist's work -- both on film and in still images -- centers on interjecting celebrity lookalikes into jaw-dropping scenarios. There's the peek inside a nightmarish Scientology-approved delivery room as Katie Holmes delivers Suri, playful shots of Princes William and Harry cavorting in Nazi regalia and peeks at a very domesticated Paris Hilton behind bars. Casual observers, though, can easily mistake Jackson's fantastical, elaborate recreations as the real thing. Maybe because we suspect they mirror reality. Jackson describes herself as an interpreter of public fantasies, an artist giving concrete form to our wild speculations and shrewdly tapping into the insatiable appetite for celebrity dirt. "It's really about an obsession with celebrity and how we think we know celebrities intimately, but we don't really know them for real," said Jackson....

By Liz Kelly  |  10:43 AM ET, 11/08/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 08:03 AM ET, 07/20/2007

Morning Mix: Lindsay Lohan Turns Herself In

Headlines: Lindsay Lohan turns herself in to police for Memorial Day crash... Dave Chappelle surfaces in D.C... Larry David's wife files for divorce... Benicio Del Toro to play Che Guevara in new Soderbergh film... Brigitte Nielsen checks into rehab... Sarah Silverman feels bad about Paris Hilton joke... Courtney Love writes indecipherable blog post... Jeremy Piven says his niece plays Will Ferrell's "landlord"... Ewan McGregor is new face of Davidoff fragrance... Tom Cruise suits up for "Valkyrie"... Tara Reid, all green and scary... Oooh! The Two Coreys fight on their upcoming reality show (video). Rumor Mill: Paul McCartney offers Heather Mills $143M divorce settlement... Britney Spears shooting video for new single "Get Back"... Production of Lindsay Lohan's new movie shuts down after Vegas visit spooks backers... Paris Hilton practices her lap dancing skills on Suge Knight. Say What? "I shoved him a couple of times vigorously up against the wall. It...

By Liz Kelly  |  08:03 AM ET, 07/20/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 01/04/2007

Angelina Jolie: Purty as a Picture

"Blessed Art Thou" by Kate Kretz. (Source: Kate's Studio) When I saw this painting of Angelina Jolie by North Carolina artist Kate Kretz (on display starting tomorrow at Art Miami 2007), I immediately regretted my lunch of three-alarm Tofurkey chili. There ought to be some kind of warning, you know, because a nice bland broth would've been a lot easier on my churning stomach. See, I pride myself on being a highly creative person who, if I so chose, would produce incredibly relevant, stunning art that would probably change the world in some significant way. I, however, am way too lazy to apply paint to canvas, but feel my hidden talents qualify me to compare this painting unfavorably to a velvet Elvis. To be fair, though, I sought the opinion of a real critic, someone attuned to the peculiarities of the art world, and someone who might interpret an...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:43 AM ET, 01/04/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 12/22/2006

He Oughta Be in Pictures

Noah K. with Paris Hilton. (Photo courtesy Noah Kalina) If you watched VH1's "Big in '06" awards show earlier this month, you might have noticed the random photos of stars leading into and out of commercial breaks. From Paris Hilton to Flavor Flav to Danny Bonaduce, they all had one thing in common: Noah Kalina. Who is Noah Kalina? He's the mastermind behind the Web site Noah K. Everyday -- a six-year (so far) archive of self-portraits -- and the viral video hit based on the project. VH1 asked Kalina to slightly modify his project for the awards show and the result is now compiled on Kalina's flickr stream. Yesterday, Kalina and I e-mailed about what it's like being an Internet sensation, which stars played nice and why Will.i.am was kind of annoying: Liz: Although you're probably sick of it, can you briefly describe the premise behind Noah K....

By Liz Kelly  |  10:44 AM ET, 12/22/2006 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:34 AM ET, 09/26/2006

Celebritology, the Religion

In the beginning, washingtonpost.com had a great idea. It would be a blog about culture and simultaneously feed and examine the insatiable appetite for celebrity gossip, photos and general table scraps. It would be called "Celebritology." The Church of Celebritology marches in Telluride's 2005 Independence Day parade. (Photo courtesy Brian Werner) Brian Werner, a Telluride, Colo., technical consultant also had a great idea. It involved turning a magnifying glass on our culture's burgeoning idolization of actors, musicians, models and bold names in general. He would also call it "Celebritology" and, along with a busload of friends, march in a 2005 Independence Day parade carrying signs bearing images of the new gods -- Tom, Katie, Brad, Angie, Madge, Lindsay -- and messages like "What Would J.Lo Do?," "Britney's Baby Will Be Bring Balance to the Force" and (my favorite) "Jim Caviezel Died for Our Sins." It was inevitable that one day,...

By Liz Kelly  |  11:34 AM ET, 09/26/2006 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 06/27/2006

Portrait of the Absurdist

She may not be an extreme "fan", per se, but if you were to describe "14" (yes, 14) as extremely fascinated by celebrities, you'd be right. For the past year, the San Francisco-based artist has made celebrities the focus of her work. And far from emulating celeb-centric art that borders on religious iconography, have no fear -- 14's work has little in common with the fawning velvet paintings of yesteryear. 14 uses the tools at her disposal -- pen, paint, computer and one magnificent time-suck of a blog -- to skewer, rather than glorify, celebrity. Her art borrows elements from tabloids, editorial cartoons, advertising and even textbook illustrations to illuminate a world of distorted values, inflated egos and undeniable appeal. (Courtesy galleryoftheabsurd.com) Recently, I interviewed 14 via e-mail....

By Liz Kelly  |  10:45 AM ET, 06/27/2006 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 06/13/2006

Back to the Sneaker

Today we take a look at the other end of the celebrity spectrum: the extreme fan. Maybe you know one -- your husband has a curio cabinet bursting with Simpsons action figures or your brother has criss-crossed the country following the Dead or Phish. (I draw these examples completely out of my backside; they have no relation to my family at all. Really.) Still, no matter how many examples I can produce, they are reduced to non-committal hobbies when compared to one man's quest for what he describes as the "holy grail" of movie sneakers: The McFlys. The McFlys. (Courtesy Al Cabino) So far, Canadian Al Cabino has collected over 19,000 virtual signatures on his petition asking Nike to reproduce the sneakers worn by Michael J. Fox in "Back to the Future II." "I coined the term 'sneaker activism'," boasts Cabino. And we believe him, having never heard it before....

By Liz Kelly  |  10:44 AM ET, 06/13/2006 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)