Jeff Pearlman

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Amanda Lucci

#167
Our devotion to celebrities drives me to drink, then vomit, then drink again, then vomit a bit more. The social media editor for the Daily Mail specializes in covering the famous. I long to understand. POSTED August 13, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 5.46.56 PMI hate celebrity.

I hate, hate, hate, hate it. I hate red carpets, I hate big event gift bags, I hate autograph hounds and sunglasses indoors and bodyguards for the sake of bodyguards.

I. Fucking. Hate. It.

But I love discussing this hate, and why we—as a people—are all about the famous who lord above us. Hence, I sought out the lovely Amanda Lucci for this week’s Quaz. Amanda covers famous folks for the Daily Mail, and her Tweets are often fired off like rounds from a Glock. Bieber—BAM! Gaga—BAM! Kardashian—BAM! Pitt—BAM! On the one hand, I wonder how her brain hasn’t melted. On the other hand, well, she’s damn good at her job. One can follow Amanda on Twitter here, and catch her website here.

Amanda Lucci, welcome to the magical land of Quaziwood …

JEFF PEARLMAN: Amanda, your job is to cover celebrity. My question is—why do we give a shit? I don’t mean that snidely, or as some holier-than-thou ordinance. But, really, why do we give a shit who Jared Lito is dating, or what Taylor Swift did with her hair? Are we that bored? Are our lives lame? Is there something more?

AMANDA LUCCI: An interest in something trivial doesn’t always mean that we’re bored or lame. I think a lot of people read celebrity gossip because it’s an escape from whatever is going on in their probably very fulfilling if sometimes complicated lives. It’s the same reason people binge watch stuff on Netflix. I mean you might be bored, or lame, but you also gotta give your brain a break sometimes.

I think people also care, at least today, because celebrities are so accessible now. Even for casual fans, something as simple as following an actor or musician you like on social media gives you a completely different insight into who they are that you never used to get. So if it comes out that that person broke up with the girl they were posting selfies with every day, you want to know why.

Anyways, there’s a million more scientific reasons why people are drawn to celebrity but I think most of us just like celebrity gossip because it’s a guilty pleasure. It’s fun, easy to understand, and basic knowledge of pop culture and common interests in the world of entertainment helps us connect with other people.

With Wiz Khalifa. He's the one in the hat.

With Wiz Khalifa. He’s the one in the hat.

J.P.: I’m looking at your website, and the entry that greets me is a photo of Kendall Jenner with a pimple, beneath the headline KENDALL JENNER HAS A PIMPLE. The kid is 18. I know it’s just tongue and cheek and blah, blah, blah, but do you ever think, “This might be somewhat mean?” Or is celebrity celebrity, and this is what comes with it?

A.L.: You know that ‘Kendall Jenner has a pimple’ was trending on Twitter like all day on Saturday? I definitely think that as a celebrity (and especially as a Kardashian), when you put your life out there and sometimes are quite literally asking people to show up and photograph you doing everyday mundane things, you subject yourself to that kind of scrutiny. At the same time, I think it’s nice that a Kardashian/Jenner was photographed with a giant pimple on her face. There’s so many stories from the Kardashian PR machine about Kendall Jenner modeling for Chanel at Paris Fashion Week and drinking champagne at the Cannes Film Festival and running around Coachella with Will Smith’s kids that sometimes you forget that Kendall Jenner is still a teen and even teens who walk in Fashion Week get pimples. It humanizes them a little. That’s not to say I don’t think celebrity gossip can be overly brutal and mean sometimes, but I also don’t have a problem with calling someone out for being normal.

J.P.: Would you want to be famous? Why or why not?

A.L.: No way. I mean it sounds fun in theory, but it has to get old. Like every time Taylor Swift leaves her apartment in New York City there’s photos of it, and she always looks impeccable with high heels on and red lips and a smile. It’s like she never has an off day. I read a story literally five minutes ago where she was wearing a dress and heels just to walk to the car to go to the gym. It honestly sounds horrible. Sometimes I just want to go next door to the bodega to get toilet paper and I want to wear my pajamas and not brush my hair. When celebrities do that the headlines are like, ‘Everyone Come See This Person Not Wearing Makeup!!!!’ So yeah I am very content being the unknown person that draws attention to all the famous people.

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J.P.: I know you’re from Pittsburgh, I know you’re an Ohio University journalism school grad. But what’s your path? How did you get from womb to here? And what’s the ultimate goal?

A.L.: Well, I was the kid with 900 Harriet the Spy notebooks pretending to be a reporter. When I finally got to J-school I went to the student paper and tried everything, and I ended up writing about art and music a lot because it was more creative and fun for me than breaking news. I eventually got to interview all the bands that would come to town and stuff like that, and I was going backstage and meeting some of my favorite artists and having the MOST fun and I wanted to do it forever. Then I moved to New York City three days after graduating and learned that that was not so easy to do in the real world. So I went to work for a group of trade magazines and manage all the digital stuff for them, which is where I discovered how much I like working with social media. I was lucky enough to get this job at the Daily Mail where I get to combine my interests in social media and entertainment, so it couldn’t have worked out any better.

As for ultimate goal, that’s TBD. I’m still learning and trying to grow with the industry. I don’t think I’m going to be a ‘social media editor’ forever but I’m also enjoying where I’m at right now. I have a lot of fun things I want to accomplish here first.

J.P.: I don’t understand the Kardashians. Put differently, how the fuck are they still here? In the spotlight? Didn’t their 15 minutes expire three years ago?

A.L.: The Kardashians don’t really have jobs other than to stay relevant, and they’re really good at it. Nothing they do is an accident. Every time you think, ‘Hey, I haven’t heard about a Kardashian in three hours,’ there’s a baby, divorce, wedding, scandal, half-naked Instagram, sideboob, pimple etc. ready to go. Hardcore Kardashian truthers will tell you that pretty much every story you see about them has been manipulated by Kris Jenner in some way to benefit their show’s ratings. They took one sex tape and turned it into an empire worth millions and millions, that is kind of incredible. And I love it. I find it easier to embrace their shamelessness than hate them for it.

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J.P.: You attended journalism school, presumably, to be a journalist. I’m 42, so maybe I have an old man’s view, but when I think of “journalism,” I think of covering elections, or wars, or the World Series. Not Justin Bieber’s pants and whether Jay-Z is cheating on B. Again, I DON’T mean this as even remotely snarky. But do you consider what you do in this endeavor to be journalism? Is it a form of new journalism? Entertainment writing?

A.L.: I’m not going to sit here and tell you that reporting on Bieber is the most important journalism in the world, but it’s news to some people. In my current job, Bieber getting arrested is considered breaking news. When I worked for trade magazines, if the president of a major organization within one of those trades stepped down, that was breaking news. When I was in fifth grade and I was the editor of our class newsletter, pizza day in the cafeteria was breaking news. But I would still consider all the work I’ve done journalism. It’s getting the information out to the people who care about it, regardless of what or who it is.

J.P.: Do you believe celebrities actually have (as a whole) more interesting lives than the rest of us? Why or why not?

A.L.: This question was kind of hard for me to answer because it’s all relative. I don’t necessarily think their lives are more interesting than ours, but the idea of it is. They have the money and opportunity to do a lot of exciting things, but that doesn’t mean they always do or that they enjoy it. You always hear, for example, celebs who say they’re said they missed their prom because they were on tour or at an audition or whatever, or how they wish they could be home for more than a week at a time instead of traveling from city to city and being away from their family. The jetset celebrity life sounds interesting in theory but for them it’s just, you know, traveling a lot for work and maybe occasionally wishing they had more of a routine.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 5.46.07 PMJ.P.: Weird question. On May 16 you Tweeted: “I shouldn’t admit this but I honestly didn’t know minnie driver was british until about 5 minutes ago.” Um, how the heck is that possible? She’s been in 100 movies and she speaks with a British accent in 98 of them?

A.L.: See I knew I shouldn’t have admitted that. But I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a Minnie Driver movie. I’ve never seen ‘Good Will Hunting.’ How messed is that? But you’ll see below where I tell you my favorite movies why this is, probably.

J.P.: You seemed particularly horrified by the Michael Jackson hologram at the recent Billboard Music Awards. I actually thought the Tupac hologram was pretty cool and original. So what’s your beef?

A.L.: I just thought it looked real creepy. It was like if you made a Michael Jackson character on the Sims. But I get why they did it, because if you have real people doing a tribute, you’ll have fans with torches and pitchforks saying that so-and-so can’t sing or dance like Michael (which is always going to be true). And also Justin Timberlake is on tour and was therefore unavailable. So as unnatural as it seemed to me I get it. It says a lot that you can put a computer projection with a backing track on a music show and it’s the most talked-about performance of the night, but really the only person who can do a proper Michael Jackson tribute is Michael Jackson, in any form.

J.P.: Greatest moment of your career? Lowest?

A.L.: I’m only 25, so I’m holding out hope that I haven’t had my greatest moment yet. Lowest is probably the beginning, when I was job hunting my senior year of college. It’s really easy to feel like your career is over before it even starts.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH AMANDA LUCCI:

• Five famous people who aren’t celebrities?: Carter, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama. Does that count?

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Cleveland Browns, pulled pork, Raisin Bran Crunch, J-14 Magazine, Lea Michele, John Smoltz, George Michael, public bathrooms, crutches, math: Andrew Carnegie. Raisin Bran Crunch (actually my favorite cereal), Andrew Carnegie, J-14 Magazine, George Michael, Lea Michele, John Smoltz, crutches, math, public bathrooms, Cleveland Browns

• Who’s a bigger celebrity: Paulina Gretzky or Wayne Gretzky?: Wayne. Paulina wishes

• Three memories of your senior prom?: 1. There was so much hairspray in my hair. SO MUCH. 2. My friends and I emptied our piggy banks to rent a Hummer limo and thought we were so badass. 3. My prom went until 5 a.m. and they made you stay the whole time so you couldn’t leave and go drink in someone’s basement or something. This was horrible BUT there was a breakfast buffet.

• Celine Dion calls. She’ll pay you $15.8 million next year to be her personal publicist. However, you have to work 365 days, get a tattoo of her face on your left butt cheek and eat one nugget of dog feces per week. You in?: Celine Dion is worth like $400 million so I’d probably ask her to pay me more than that. And I would demand unlimited access to the private waterpark at her house.

• Can Nickelback make a comeback?: Nickelback has sold something like 50 million albums so I am fully confident in their triumphant return. The question is should they, and they should not.

• Do you ever actually meet celebs? Or is it all from afar?: It’s mostly from afar now but I got to interview a lot of really cool people when I was a reporter.

• My lower back is absolutely killing me. What should I do?: Heat and like a handful of ibuprofen.

• This is kind of awkward, but my friend Greg Orlando is single, and a really nice guy. He’s 20 years your senior and is really into video games. You up for a date?: I have a boyfriend who will definitely be reading this so I’m going to have to say no.

• Five favorite films?: Airplane!, Meet the Parents, Anchorman, The Jerk, Eurotrip. I have a type.

  • Rob Blount

    Someone near my age who actually knows of/likes the movie Airplane! So good parents still exist.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life