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Britney's Snacks, Paris' Tweets, and the Idea of Hollywood: An Interview with 'Starstruck' Author Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

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Welcome to Los Angeles, known to many as the place where dreams come true. While we might be in line for a Frappucino next to Miley Cyrus one day, then seeing a paparazzi shot of a Twilight star pumping gas ("They pump their own gas!") on a glossy page of a gossip rag while waiting at the doctor's office, here we live in a curious world of celebrity, no matter how distant the proximity.

The world loves celebrity, and celebrities, and celebs love to be loved. So what is a celebrity? Are all famous people celebrities? How does celebrity actually work? USC Professor Elizabeth Currid-Halkett is the author of a new book, Starstruck, which breaks down the system and mechanics of celebrity. We had the opportunity to throw Currid-Halkett some questions about her book, Hollywood--geographically and conceptually, social media, and old school celeb crushes.

LAist: What prompted you to explore celebrity in such depth? Have you always had more than just a passing interest in celebrities?

Elizabeth Currid-Halkett: When I wrote my first book (The Warhol Economy) I was fascinated with how people became “the best” in the creative industries. Because art, fashion, music and film are taste-driven and subjectively measured more than other industries, I was curious as to what it meant to be considered highly talented and/or successful in these fields. Those who did achieve such accolades were, in common parlance, stars or celebrities. Unlike being a world class surgeon or lawyer, being a fantastic film actor or Grammy winning musician meant that most of the world knew you and fans developed a strong interest in all aspects of your persona. Celebrity gossip interests me as much as the next person (I certainly read more than my fair share of US Weekly and OK!). However, my interest in celebrity is more intellectual - I find it to be a fascinating and ubiquitous social phenomenon and I am interested in the processes by which people become stars.