Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

January 23, 2014

AROUND THE TOWN: The burdens of celebrity

By Jan Boston Sellers
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a celebrity? How it must feel to be recognized everywhere you go? Sign autographs while you are having dinner with your family? Pose for pictures when you are on vacation? Deal with tabloid fodder?

I, for one, think that being a celebrity would be a huge burden. Every single thing you say or do is scrutinized. Your comings and goings well documented for the world to read about in US Magazine or watch on TMZ.com. If you are happily engaged like Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, you have to read about your fictitious breakups. If you are a celebrity couple going through a divorce, rather than garner the peace and quiet most people would want during such a tumultuous time, you have to see the details splashed over television and tabloids. If you are the French president with a paramour, your late night tryst is catapulted into front page news.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be for celebrities with children to deal with paparazzi day after day. I read recently where Tori Spelling was in an accident thanks to celebrity stalkers while trying to drop her children off at school. Sure, they signed on for a lot of this when they made that movie, starred in the television show, played on that court, walked onto the football field or grabbed the microphone for a chart-topping song. But, for the most part, to be fair, I am not sure anyone is ever truly prepared for what today’s media, paparazzi and/or social media bring to a celebrity’s life.

I have met a few celebrities. Most of who (with the exception of one) were very gracious. I have often said I am not sure I want to meet my perennial favorites because I am afraid they may not be what I expect and disappoint me.

The idea for this column about celebs presented itself to me after eating at a local restaurant Saturday night with a country music singer and watching him handle the crowd and fans while attempting to eat dinner with his family and friends.

Singer Aaron Tippin was dining at Gondola with his wife, Thea, their two sons, and local couple Ron and Christie Neal. Tippin, who was seated in the second section with his back against the wall, was in full view of pretty much everyone walking into the popular restaurant. While we were waiting to be seated, a server told us there was a celebrity having dinner. A few minutes later, the hostess seated us next to him.

Although I had never met him, he and I have a mutual friend, Penny, who works at Starstruck in Nashville with Reba McEntire. I introduced myself and told him I was Penny’s longtime friend and we chatted for a minute about her and I sat down. He was very kind and gracious. I, of course, was one of only a few interruptions as he struggled to eat and converse with his friends. He was asked for autographs, to pose for pictures, and some, like me, just chatted for a second and walked away pleased, I am sure, with their celebrity encounter.

Tippin, who has a place in nearby Smithville, and company left the restaurant before we did. But he left me, and I am pretty sure everyone else who talked with him, feeling pretty good about how he handled his status in the country music industry. I am sure he probably would have preferred a nice, quiet dinner, with his family and friends. But not once did he ever seem perturbed or aggravated by the stream of interruptions. I was very impressed with him and think he could give at least one celebrity I met a few tips on how to treat us normal people.

Tippin and his wife, Thea, just won a Country Spirit Award for their song a “December to Remember,” which they co-wrote and recorded. He has had more than 30 songs on Billboard’s Hot Country singles including his debut song, “You’ve Got to Stand for Something,” which many Gulf War soldiers used as their personal anthem.

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The basketball squads from CCHS and SMHS split wins this past Friday evening. The Lady Jets improved to a 19-1 record with their win over the Lady Panthers and the Cleveland Lady Blue Raiders this weekend. The SMHS fellows picked up their 15th and 16th victories of the season with their recent wins over the Jets and Alcoa Tornadoes. The Jets and Lady Jets are in action tonight versus Warren County and will host Cookeville on Tuesday. The Panthers and Lady Panthers travel to Cookeville tonight and play at Rhea County on Tuesday night.