All in the family: It’s good to have a famous name in media

Our celebrity-crazed culture already brings millions upon millions of dollars for being able to play ball or run really fast or even swim really fast. I have no real problem with that. The majority of athletes who rise to the top and get the megabucks generally devote their lives, their souls and even their bodies to their sport. There are entertainers who are, at least in the minds of some, terrific at their art who also may be paid very handsome sums for acting or performing music. It can be a bit murky in many cases as to whether certain movie or small screen stars or recording artists are really worth what they are paid.

Some folks get paid for their name and their name alone, although those who hire them always seem to find some virtue that is worth fortune and acclaim. It is at this point where paying celebs because they are celebs makes me more than uncomfortable.

For years now celebrities’ names have begun showing up on the “best-seller” lists for various books, mostly in the non-fiction genre. There were tell-alls, or some essays concerning the certain passions of the rich and famous, even celebrity fitness and cookbooks. Maybe some of these celebrity-penned works were purchased by publishers for the “authors” writing abilities. More than often that wasn’t the case. The celebrity book, many times these days, are not even written by your famous celebrity. It might be the book was written by your favorite “celebrity ghost writer.” The latter — folks like Mickey Herskowitz come to mind — may have started out the hard way and were later picked by publishers to put a celebrity’s voice into words.

Perhaps it was only a matter of time that jobs — especially those in media — were handed out to famous people or even the kids of the famous. There was understandable grousing when Luke Russert began working for NBC News on TV journalist spots not long after his Dad, the fabulous Tim Russert, died suddenly. Russert, now 27, began working on special spots such as covering youth issues during the 2008 elections. He now pops up everywhere including as a fill-in anchor on shows such as MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”

Just maybe young Russert inherited some of his late Dad’s broadcasting chops. Luke did study broadcasting at Boston College and worked as an intern for various networks. He also seems to be a pretty good TV newsman himself though what I have seen him do is fairly limited and of the stuff your better local news reporters do daily. Notice I say, better, not the best.

Now Southern Living, the long-time lifestyle magazine has announced former “First Daughter” Jenna Bush-Hager will be editor-at-large. Bush-Hager is a contributing correspondent on NBC’s “The Today Show.” I have never caught her Today reports. I do remember the then-Jenna Bush sticking her tongue out at a media contingent in which I was included one day at Fort Hood.  That’s was, what, eight years ago when she was still in college? Oh well, she was just young and having fun back then. But heavy on the “eight years ago.”

Bush-Hager will write a Q and A with well-known Southerners and a blog on daily Southern life. I suppose some magazine jobs sound much more gravitas-filled than others. What, if any, other responsibilities she will have I don’t know. I know that as with as many magazine positions I have applied for and received nary a thank-you, one of those had to be “Southern Living.”

Of course, hiring celebrity kids — presidential ones even — is nothing new. Steven Ford starred in a soap opera and has acted for years in the movies. All of the Reagan kids have been in some sort of media gig. After all, it’s really the family business. Chelsea Clinton has had a difficult time treading the line between work as a special correspondent for NBC News and campaigning for various issues

Just maybe there is another motive behind hiring the young celebs. Perhaps these young people will not demand more money, kind of like the ones who now occupy the jobs in media these days. The older guys get the pink slip and the young kids fill the dinosaur’s spot at a reduced salary. I have to think the celeb kid being hired might just make a wee bit, maybe even a good bit, more than the fresh-faced younger person with no famous name.

It’s good to know someone famous. It’s a hell of a lot better to be someone with a famous name.

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