Tuesday, February 7

H’wood celebrity sex tapes benefit careers
Philippine Daily Inquirer,Feb 5, 2006

NEW YORK—IN A HOLLYWOOD museum specializing in erotica is a grainy tape of a woman having sex with a man on a couch. It’s widely believed, though denied by her estate, that the woman is Marilyn Monroe, circa 1948.

Fast-forward some 60 years. The latest celebrity sex tape contains 14 minutes of hard-core action between actor Colin Farrell and a former Playboy Playmate, punctuated by dialogue like: “Where’s the zoom on this?”

But Farrell’s career is not likely to be harmed. In fact, it could even get bigger.

“The public is very forgiving [of show biz celebrities],” says Kate White, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan. “It’s not like, ‘Oh no, Colin, not you!’ It makes him more interesting.”

In the old days, Hollywood studios worked hard to suppress behavior they didn’t like. Contract stars signed morals clauses, says Jonathan Kuntz, a film professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who specializes in Hollywood history.

The celebrity sex tape really emerged decades after Monroe, along with accessible home video equipment. In the late 1980s, Rob Lowe became infamous for a videotaped encounter with two women, one a minor. But the actor climbed back; he later got the plum role of presidential aide Sam Seaborn in “The West Wing.”

A decade later, “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson and her rocker husband Tommy Lee were subjects of a sex tape stolen from their home and distributed on the Internet. Anderson went on to launch her own TV series, “V.I.P.,” which ran for four years. She now stars in the sitcom “Stacked.”

All this is but a prelude, of course, to Paris Hilton.

In late 2003, Hilton was a mere hotel heiress and socialite favored by the paparazzi for her blonde looks, skimpy outfits and nightclub escapades. Her sex tape, made with then-boyfriend Rick Salomon in eerie night-vision green, surfaced just before the start of her reality TV series, “The Simple Life.”

It helped propel her to superstardom: A fragrance. A nightclub chain. A CD. Memoirs. In Yahoo’s compilation of the top web searches of 2005, “Paris Hilton” was the seventh most-searched term, in all categories, globally.

It would appear that Colin Farrell has little to worry about, despite his video romp with ex-girlfriend Nicole Narain, who is now trying to sell it.

But he’d better look good in the tape. One thing that will hurt a celebrity’s career is looking bad, showing paunch or bags around the eyes or greasy hair.

“Now that,” says RobertThompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, “would be a scandal.” Associated Press
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