Everybody is a star, or could be. If you don't believe me, take the grandmother test. Imagine your grandmother wearing sunglasses, walking down an intensely lit, crimson-red carpet, enclosed in a coterie of sexy people and fronted by a phalanx of strapping guards with large forearms.
You'd probably want to know her name. Imagine her being met by a second group of headseterati (classy officials with headsets) who smile and greet her. Then watch as a small army of TV cameras, logos blazing, swivel toward her.
As dozens of paparazzi flash her picture, you might literally be dazzled. Your grannie is a star. I believe it would even work with a monkey.
What you'd be witnessing is the mechanics of the star system. Biologists will tell you people are more attracted to faces they see more often. Show them the same person often enough and reverence follows - even if it's someone they don't like.
Trailervision attempted to explore all this fascination with fame in a caper we called StarHoax. This week, as Toronto International Film Festival glitter takes over the city, we're providing the inside scoop on the affair with the launch of our DVD of Why Can't I Be A Movie Star ?
It was 1999, and we were a group of jokester filmmakers offended by a Festival Of Festivals poster of young people chasing movie stars. The posters had blanketed the streets, and we took umbrage at the suggestion that stargazing was the main reason to attend the festival. What about cinema? What about ideas? What about art? (Apologies for the earnestness.) All that starfuckery, it just seemed a bit much.
It's opening night, the big gala at Roy Thomson Hall, and we're determined to create an imposter to make an appearance at the star-studded premiere. We dress in our best California casual and send somebody over to Honest Ed's for cheap plastic sunglasses, none costing more than $5.
The fake star, we decide, will be an up-and-coming edgy action hero, Lance Banyon (played by Montreal actor Mike Patterson). He'll be accompanied by a bodyguard, two female co-stars as well as one of his many personal assistants.
We rent a yacht-like white limousine (only $75) and, as we nervously await its arrival, help Banyon rehearse the star walk. He practises getting out of the limo and turning and smiling first one way, then another. His bodyguard practises pointing him in the direction he should go, and the art of stylishly nudging people toward the camera like children. The entourage practise smiling in unison.
We line up a few flash cameras, a TV camera, lights, designated phony paparazzi and fake fans. Just before the limo arrives, it dawns on us that we might be horrifically embarrassed and dragged off the red carpet by security under the glare of the international entertainment media. But we press on.
Show time. Starmania is in full effect. Hundreds of the starwatchers try to get close to the action as the searchlights pan the sky. The air is thick with cologne. The limos start to stream in.
Alec Baldwin gets out of one limousine, Bob Hoskins and Dave Foley another. Atom Egoyan and Arsinée Khanjian arrive. My cellphone rings, announcing that our limo is pulling up. A mammoth security guard reaches forward and opens the door. Banyon emerges, smiling, turning one way and then another. There's a moment of silence. I can almost hear the paparazzi thinking, "It's just some nobody.' But then the fake fans go into action. "It's Lance Banyon!' one screams. Then another. There are whispers in the crowd: "It's Lance Banyon.' The cameras are flashing.
Suddenly, the security operation is furious that Lance Banyon might be annoyed by his overenthusiastic fans. A horde of red-shirted security men shove us back. One guy practically pushes me by the throat. Banyon and entourage are quickly ushered toward the glistening gates of the gala and up the stairs, into the green room to one of the festival's most exclusive parties, where the fake stars eats tiny pieces of chicken offered to him on sticks.
Did our prank expose the cold star machine? Or is was it just a clever way to crash a gala? In any case, if monkeys like us can be stars, anybody can.