If you live in Los Angeles, you see it all the time, particularly if you’re rolling down Sunset on a Friday night or trying to maneuver your way through the back streets of Hollywood on any weeknight. Inevitably, you’ll see someone step out of a limo or pull up to the valet in a spiffy late-model sports car, and suddenly you’ll be seeing stars — the kind caused by flashing strobe lights.
Normally, flashing lights are indicators that someone special has arrived. It could be Brangelina, Clooney, Halle, Heidi and Seal or Marc and Jennifer. But because you’re curious, you strain your neck looking out the back window of your car to see who it is.
When you realize it’s just another scantily clad Paris wannabe, you get a little ticked off. Once again you’ve risked raising your auto insurance premiums to check out, well, nobody.
My friend Jackie knows all the folks famous for being semi-famous. She can spot them with just a fleeting glance, even when they’re in speeding cars, behind huge Jackie O sunglasses or sitting among us commoners at outdoor cafes.
One day while we were discussing the meaning of life over badly made mojitos at a trendy open-air mall, we — I mean Jackie — spotted Kim Kardashian. Although she’s one of them — famous for being semi-famous — I definitely knew who she was. Her late father, Robert Kardashian, was one of O.J. Simpson’s lawyers. He was the one who was carrying the mysterious garment bag that disappeared.
That was his claim to fame. But mostly, I knew Kardashian as the girl in that sex tape with Brandy Norwood’s baby brother Ray J.
Although Kardashian is certainly no Paris — they aren’t even in the same tax bracket — she has managed to parlay that nefarious incident into becoming the next not-so-big reality star on E! The premiere episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” airs on Oct. 14 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. What’s even more disturbing about this show produced by Ryan Seacrest is that it’s going to make all of Kardashian’s siblings pseudo-celebrities, as well as extend the career of their stepdaddy, Bruce Jenner. Great! The Friday night limo lock on Sunset will be even worse because Paris and her lesser-known peers will have more nobodies to play with.
I say we blame O.J.
If he hadn’t hired Robert Kardashian to defend him in Hollywood’s most infamous murder trial ever, we never would have heard of Kim, her sisters, brother or her annoyingly clueless momager, Kris. That case made “celebrities” out of way too many people no one had ever heard of.
All these nobodies are getting in the way of us caring about real celebrities such as Andy Dick, Shar Jackson and Danny Bonaduce. They’ve worked hard for their offscreen fame.
People like Kim Stewart, Nicole Richie and Jack and Kelly Osbourne are basically just famous because they’re the offspring of someone deservedly famous. Folks like Anna Nicole Smith, Larry Birkhead, Howard K. Stern, Nicky Hilton, Kevin Federline, Kato Kaelin and Kardashian are mostly famous by association. It’s usually because of someone they know, someone they made love to or something they did.
Like Paris, none of the above have any discernable talents, yet they get paid to show up at events and nightclubs. It’s really kind of baffling.
None of them, however, have had the impact that Paris has had on popular culture. They still need to use their last name. Paris has run with the baton passed on by her step-great-granny Zsa Zsa Gabor, who was more famous for her eight marriages than she was her acting career.
It’s a good gig if you can get it.
And speaking of work — a foreign concept to most of “them” — God help us if Hollywood’s writers go on strike. If that happens, not only might we have to suffer through another season of the Kardashians, but there will probably be a plethora of new reality shows propelling yet another batch of nobodies — and the lawyers they’ll hire to defend them when they screw up — into the spotlight.
Thanks again, O.J.
Miki Turner is an entertainment columnist for MSNBC.com. She welcomes your comments at .