Ringo Starr was in town this week, flicking a Churchillian V-sign and beaming from behind a pair of comically dark sunglasses as he unveiled his very own "star" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Every time a new plaque is added to LA's most famous pavement, crowds come out in force. And the former Beatle's unveiling ceremony, attended by Eric Idle and David Lynch (but not Sir Paul McCartney), was no exception.
Behind the scenes, though, a time-honoured parlour game was taking place: Hollywood insiders were placing their bets on who, exactly, was footing Ringo Starr's bill.
Why so? Well it's a little-known fact that anyone deemed important enough to get a "star" on the Walk of Fame must also pay a "sponsorship fee" of $25,000 (£16,000) to the local Chamber of Commerce, to have it actually installed. The money is supposed to fund the pavement's upkeep. But working out where it comes from provides a fascinating insight into the workings of celebrity culture.
Sometimes, if a star is vain enough, they foot the bill themselves. Other times, fan clubs do it. More often, though, film studios or record labels cough up, hoping the ceremony will garner cheap publicity for the famous person's forthcoming projects.
This flogging of civic heritage of course reflects the business-minded fabric of a city in which everything is secretly for sale. But in these tough economic times, I sometimes wonder if the $25,000 "sponsorship fee" represents money well spent.
Though the Chamber of Commerce never reveals the source of its income, I'm reliably informed that Ringo Starr's bill was paid by Capitol Records, who just put out his new album, Y Not. According to Billboard, it has so far failed to trouble the top 50.
En suite everywhere
You can tell a lot about a city from its plumbing. LA's obsession with squeaky cleanliness is highlighted by the bizarrely large number of bathrooms in most of its houses.
A case in point in Saturday's Los Angeles Times property section: actress Joely Fisher is selling an Encino home which boasts four bedrooms, and EIGHT lavatories – one for every person who can inhabit the house at any one time.
The tweet hereafter
This Valentine's Day, America's longest-married couple will dispense relationship advice via Twitter. Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher, who are 104 and 102 respectively and tied the knot in 1924, will "tweet" as @longestmarried. A press release from film website Blinkbox, which organised the project, reveals that the geriatric lovebirds' favourite hobbies include "sitting on the porch, watching trains go by, and counting passing cars". And now, social networking.Reuse content