It seems the bloke from the All-Bran Bran Flakes adverts is doing really well for himself. William Shatner, an actor famous for introducing the Kellogg’s ‘Yoghurty’ cereal to unsuspecting members of the British public, was so inundated by requests for his autograph from eager breakfast-food fans that he has set up a company offering them a multimedia autograph experience as an alternative to boring ‘pen on paper’ autographs.
Shatner, also a sci-fi actor from the television series ‘Star Trek’ (whatever that is), has established a company called ‘Live Autographs’ with some non-famous business partners to offer a radical new twist to the celebrity name-scribble market: Notably, personalised video recordings filmed by the star of your choice to a request of your choice.
The idea is simple enough: You get a celebrity’s face and voice recording whatever you want them to say. Want Shat’ to sing you Happy Birthday whilst crossing his eyes and flapping his wig? Done. Want Carmen Electra to tell you her favourite Star Trek episode whilst crossing her eyes and flapping her … eyelashes? No problem. And how much is it gonna set you back? Just $149. Bargainus.
Now, when i was a kid, i had an autograph book. But by the time I hit my mid-teens, and was therefore too cool for anything other than being moody and wearing Doc Martin’s, i’d amassed a mighty collection of twenty names. Some of these included such notable denizens of the 80’s as Roy Castle, Timmy Mallett, Andi Peters and Princess Diana (gawd rest her soul). But the thing was, i never really took it very seriously.. I mean, I never hung out at film premieres, or attended book signings, or waited outside a stage door for a thespian’s exit. No. Essentially, I was ‘autograph ambivalent’; If i managed to get someone to write in the book – then great! If not – ‘ah well’.
So, imagine then my shock at learning that current financial estimates place the autograph industry’s annual net worth at around $2 billion, a year. Yes. 2 BILLION. Now that’s a whole lot of green. I can’t help but think if i’d maybe taken my collection a little more seriously I would have been an incredibly wealthy man by now. If i had, maybe I would be the one giving out autographs to fans, rather than my current state of only giving my signature to surly looking Sainsbury’s staff.
Auctions (both online and actual) are where the real autograph action takes place, with some illusive celebrity scrawls trading hands for anything up to $20,000. Last year in fact, an autographed photo of Marilyn Monroe was sold at an auction in America for a staggeringly impressive $18,000. For ONE autograph. Blimey.
There are many strange aspects to the world of ‘Celebrity’, but none more peculiar than the frankly bizarre practice of autographs, and it seems Shatner and his Live Autographs company are boldly going to a new frontier of weirdness. I mean, do you really want the Shat’ at your wedding giving you his All Bran blessing? Or Shat’ as your screensaver wobbling his man-boobs whilst humming the theme to Star Trek?
I guess $2 billion a year says ‘yes’, a LOT of people do.[via Reuters]