Saturday, June 9, 2007

Little Hollywood Love for Paris Hilton

Little Hollywood Love for Paris Hilton

Celebrities who fall on tough legal times can often rely on their fellow stars for support.

Jodie Foster spoke out on Mel Gibson's behalf after his anti-Semitic tirade last summer. The cast of "The View" gave Alec Baldwin a place to explain his custody battle and an angry voicemail message he left for his 11-year-old daughter. Robert Downey, Jr., was welcomed with understanding and job offers after his multiple drug arrests.

But few Hollywood players have come out in support of Paris Hilton, who was sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating her probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case. The 26-year-old surrendered to sheriff's deputies June 3 and was booked into a Lynwood jail. She was released to home confinement a few days later, then ordered back behind bars Friday.

A crowd of Hilton fans gathered outside the courthouse Friday where she learned her latest fate. But the hot, young showbiz set that Hilton hangs with has remained mum on the heiress' plight.

Usually "powerful people protect powerful people," said veteran Hollywood publicist Michael Levine.

"But in this case I don't see any rallying around her," he said. "She is a person who got into the famous club for nothing and I think there's some contempt around that."

Howard Bragman, a longtime publicist who runs the public-relations firm Fifteen Minutes, said Hilton doesn't have the "strong foundation of relationships in this town" that would motivate famous folks to stand behind her.

"Paris' career was made in a microwave and not in a crock pot," he said, adding that Hilton lacks the self-awareness that might inspire empathy from her colleagues.

"You've got to understand and accept responsibility for yourself in order for people to rally around you," he said.

Before Hilton was sent back to jail Friday, comedian George Lopez called her brief stay behind bars "more like a spa treatment than an actual sentence."

"Celebrities get treated lightly by the judicial system," he said. "Wealthy and affluent and famous people get treated differently than anybody else."

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said Hilton did get special treatment because of her celebrity status: "She got more time in jail."

Host Sarah Silverman cracked a crude joke at Hilton's expense to open last Sunday's MTV Movie Awards at which the heiress made a surprise appearance. When the camera panned to Hilton, she was not smiling.

Hugh Hefner has been one of the few celebrities sympathetic to Hilton's situation.

"I feel very badly for her," he said Thursday when asked about the heiress.

But Paris-pity or no, Hollywood seldom misses a promotional opportunity. ABC used the endless publicity surrounding Hilton's case to promote its new TV show, "Dirty Sexy Money." The show focuses on a fictional family, the Darlings a wealthy clan not unlike the Hiltons.

The network placed full-page ads in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Post that read: "We love Paris. The Darling Family." An airplane towing a banner with the same message flew above the downtown courthouse Friday.


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