Where, I ask you, would celebrity news be without the most important gear in the wheel?
The close, personal pal.
These "regular folk" who sometimes manage to snag a bit of the spotlight simply by virtue of knowing someone famous.
It's why people actually compete on a reality show for the chance to be friends with Paris Hilton. They don't really want to be friends with her, they want to be able to give an "exclusive" interview to several different media outlets the next time she punches someone at a club. Then get a movie deal and be rich and famous and happy forever! That's how it works, right?
My current favorite hanger-on? Miko Brando.
Miko is the son of famous actor Marlon Brando, best known for his role as Vito Corleone in "The Godfather." Miko is best known as Michael Jackson's friend and bodyguard, and in the last two weeks it has been impossible for anyone who has followed the Michael Jackson story even at a distance to miss this Close, Personal Friend Giving His Account of the Final Days of this Fallen Superstar.
I'll be honest: I hardly ever, ever watch the news. I don't check internet news sites, except Entertainment Weekly, and even then it's just to see if there are any new pictures of Rob Pattinson from the set of New Moon. (Yummy!) I learned about the death of Michael Jackson on Twitter. Even I have seen Miko Brandon no less than four times in the last two weeks. He was on Good Morning America this morning to comment on the "newly discovered" video of Mr. Jackson's accident when filming that Pepsi commercial in 1984. (Comment? Really? Beyond, "Yes, his head is on fire," what could you say?)
I believe Miko Brando was Michael Jackson's friend. But, if he doesn't stop making the media rounds, he's going to end up beating out the ultimate Hanger-On for the Uselessness Prize:
Kato Kaelin, anyone?
As quasi-obsessed as I am with pop culture, I admit this is something I couldn't do. I couldn't be a hanger-on. I would become too genuinely concerned with my friend and try to get him or her to change whatever crazy ways were causing him or her to careen toward destruction, thereby nixing my opportunity to give my Tearful Account to Star Magazine.
Here's what I mean:
Lindsey Lohan: once talented actress is now a punchline. Most recent kerfuffle: accused of stealing a spray-tan formula to market herself.
Hanger-On says: "Hey, it's okay, Linds! You're young! Who cares if you party sometimes and look like a Cheeto? Let's hit the club!"
Friend says: "You need some sleep. Look at you. You're what, 23? You look 47. Take a break, accept a cameo role in an important indie film, and get your artistic integrity back. You've still got a good shot at a decent life. Don't blow it."
See what I mean? The Friend ruins everything. The Hanger-On just enjoys the ride.
Then gets on the next one.