Is That You Leo? Celebrities On Twitter
Did you know Leonardo DiCaprio is on Twitter? Ah lovely Leo...sigh. A heartthrob to millions of women for his role in "Titantic," and now a truly accomplished actor with a fine record of work on his resume including "Revolutionary Road," "The Departed," and "Blood Diamond."
Who wouldn't want to read every Twitter tidbit that materialized from Leo's lilting keyboard? I had the honor of tweeting with him myself last week:
There's only one problem...LeoDiCaprio1 is a fake. How do I know this? Two reasons.
First of all he sounded fake. Even though his profile links to a Leonardo DiCaprio website the way he wrote simply didn't sound authentic. The other reason, a real Twitter celebrity, from the literary world, told me so.
Joe Finder is the author of several New York Times bestselling thrillers. He's also on Twitter. After reading the above conversation I had with Leo, Joe emailed me and told me he knows the woman who runs Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, Appian Way and she assured him that the real Leo is not on Twitter.
A recent convert to Twitter, Mr. Finder has discovered how addictive Twitter can be. After turning up his nose at the great unwashed tweeting masses, he posted his first tweet recently and hasn't left his keyboard since. He describes his obsession in a post on his website:
My editor and my assistant both tried to stop me, but it was too late. As readers know, I'm a gadget guy, and I love new technology. Two weeks into this, I've already developed a following (everybody develops their own following; it's not like I've gone all Hollywood on you), and my followers post all kinds of fascinating stuff - about books and bookselling, journalism, movies and TV shows. One of them even got me to start watching "American Idol" against my will! Honestly, no hype, I think we're witnessing the birth of an entirely new type of communication - halfway in between private and public. It's very strange.
He also has some very funny observations about celebrities on Twitter:
Some celebrities, like Ashton Kutcher, have huge followings; other,
even bigger celebrities lock down their “updates” so that you can only follow them if you’re approved. (One movie star I’ve written a movie for, for instance, let me into his exclusive, private group of
followers, fewer than I have; he seems to use it mostly to communicate with his girlfriend.)
Melissa at Sixteenth Letter thinks celebrities will bring Twitter into the mainstream:
Who can resist a service where you can send an @ reply to a celebrity, know that he's going to read it, and maybe even write you back? Listen people - YOU MIGHT GET A MESSAGE FROM YOUR FAVORITE CELEBRITY!!!! When the thousands of celebrity-happy people out there find out about this kind of access, they are going to flock to Twitter.
Some Twitter users like the fun of getting the chance to interact with celebrities while others don't find them all that interesting.
Actor Greg Grunberg ("Heroes," "Alias") is an avid Twitter user. He tweets tidbits about "Heroes," information about his band and personal appearances. Grunberg was featured in a recent LA Times article about celebrities who tweet:
Sometimes Grunberg finds himself twittering until late into the
evening. His wife shakes her head, but he insists not one moment is
wasted. "People are constantly thanking me for being on Twitter," Grunberg said. "I say, 'Thank you.' It's so cool."
But it's not all frivolous fun and games. Just today, after President Obama signed a bill authorizing stem cell research, Grunberg got into it with another Twitter user. Grunberg is very much pro-stem cell research since he has a son with epilepsy:
With all do respect Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but anything that can cure my son from having seizures I will fight for.
The ultimate in the Twitter celebrity stalking experience can be found at Celebrity Tweet. There you can read the latest tweets of celebrities only. For example, today they had a list of over 400 tweets from celebs like Brooke Burke, Katy Perry, MC Hammer, Lance Armstrong, Ashton Kutcher, Sean P. Diddy Combs and Demi Moore.
But really, what's the point of that? The whole point of Twitter is interaction and not just with Hollywood's hoi polloi.
My favorite Twitter celeb so far is British actor and comedian Stephen Fry. He's got that dry, Brit wit and can make the ordinary, funny and insightful. His best tweets were when he was trapped in an elevator and sent a TwitPic of he and his fellow passengers. I sent him an @reply that said, "Hopefully someone has a deck of cards." Though I didn't receive a response, I know he read my tweet and chuckled. Maybe.
I've only recently started following people like MC Hammer, Shaquille O'Neal, Wil Wheaton, Amber Benson, and LeVar Burton. I've created a special celeb group on TweetDeck so in addition to keeping track of the real people I follow, I have my own version of Celebrity Tweet.
Other celebrities who have invaded the Twitter-verse in the last few weeks are Britney Spears and Jane Fonda. Rumor has it, most of Britney's tweets are written by underpaid flunkies, but who knows, she might post the odd tweet now and then.
Jane Fonda joined just as her play, "33 Variations" was about to open on Broadway. And just today, David Alan Grier joined and started following me. He also debuted on "Dancing with the Stars" last night. Coincidence? I think not. Especially since his tweets so far have consisted of requests for call-in votes.
What all three of these recent celeb additions have in common are current projects they want to publicize. But at least Fonda's tweets sound like she's writing them and she name drops some big celebs. Like confiding that Robert Redford plans to attend her play next week.
Ms. Fonda even selected BlogHer as one of her Follow Friday choices last week. I find that kind of cool.
However, there are those who disagree with the influx of celebrities on Twitter. Check out this post on Crave, "Celebrities On Twitter and Why You Shoudn't Follow Them:"
So why shouldn't you follow them? Because, by and large, these big names aren't saying anything. A vicious circle has sprung up, whereby the mainstream media, which often still doesn't get Twitter -- as we type this very article, a DJ has just described Twitter as "a Web site for stalking people"; Lorraine Kelly, anyone? -- focuses on the celebs, the celebs get more followers, and the noise around them increases. Then the attention Twitter's been getting sees users who don't get it -- and worse, don't care -- leap on the bandwagon. Companies spamming, band profiles updated by bored work-experience kids -- we're looking at you, Razorlight, but we're not linking -- and celebrities being trolled. Not good.
In fact a recent poll asked if celebrities are good for Twitter.
I understand those reservations. After all, Twitter started out as a Power to the People movement, with ordinary citizens connecting in simple yet profound ways. Throw in the odd blog post plug and Twitter was the ordinary citizen's paradise.
Now with the invasion of the glitterati publicity machine, Twitter may become a pale imitation of the site we've all grown to love. Where will it all end? Only the internet knows for sure.
What do you think about celebrities on Twitter?
Don't be shy, let fly.
Bonnie Ruberg at Heartless Doll gives us "10 Celebrities Who Will and Won't Reply To Your Tweets."
Lindsay Weber's Twitter conversation with Mariah Carey.
The Answer Bitch at E!Online has more information on who might be a bogus Twitter celebrity.
Real Celebrities on Twitter is working on ways to verify real Twitter celebs from the bogus.
Thanks to Virginia DeBolt's post on how to use Twickie.
Megan Smith is the BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television and Online Video and she only learned the true value of Twitter when she attended BlogHer '08. Now she's addicted. Her personal entertainment blog is Megan's Minute, Quirky Commentary Around The Clock.