Blog: Monetizing Celebrity

Burt Ross

There is a growing industry for celebrities to make a buck outside their regular routine, and this industry has expanded exponentially during the pandemic. I am referring to famous people getting paid to send a “Cameo Video” to somebody on their birthday, anniversary or whatever. 

It is a great opportunity for celebrities in all walks of life to sit in the comfort of their homes and record a brief message the script for which has more often than not been provided by the person paying for this service.

We are not talking penny ante. The comedian Gilbert Gottfried says he has made 8,000 of these calls for $150 a pop. If I am doing the math correctly, those calls rake in more than $1 million for some work at home. Not bad. Malibu’s own Caitlyn Jenner reportedly makes $2,500 per greeting. That is considerably better than “not bad.”

I, of course, have opinions on this whole development. For one thing, I am jealous—seriously jealous. I would love to reach out to somebody, wish them a happy anniversary, and collect some easy money. To be honest, I would accept a lot less than $2,500 for my cameo, or even the modest sum of $150. I am even willing to charge a mere $10, make that $5, but there isn’t a solitary person in this universe who would pay me a $1 to hear or see me. I do know some people who might pay to make sure I do not contact them.

Frankly, I don’t understand why people would want to hear a recorded cameo from a complete stranger wishing them a happy anything, let alone pay for such a contact, but perhaps folks don’t consider famous people strangers.

I met Caitlyn Jenner at a restaurant in town and we spoke for a moment. She seemed perfectly nice, but I cannot begin to imagine what she could say to me in a recorded message which would be worth over $2,000. I guess I simply have no imagination. 

As for Gilbert Gottfried, have you ever heard him talk? Were I in a hospital trying to recover from some ailment, and I had to listen to that voice which can crack open a rock, I would more than likely suffer a major setback and pass on to greener pastures.