Janice Min, copresident and chief creative officer of the Hollywood Reporter–Billboard Media Group, joined The Bill Simmons Podcast this week to discuss the state of publishing and how outlets are covering Hollywood. Within their wide-ranging discussion, Min and Simmons broke down the celebrities who best cultivate their own images, and how celebrity journalism can move forward in the social media era.
Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.
The Mount Rushmore of Celebrity Images
Bill Simmons: Give me the Mount Rushmore [of celebrities who best manage their image]. Who are the best?
Janice Min: Oh god. [Laughs.]
Simmons: Who are the ones you admired from afar? J.Lo’s gotta be in there, right?
Min: Yeah, I’d put J.Lo on Mount Rushmore. Angelina Jolie …
Simmons: Oh, yeah. Master. She broke up somebody’s marriage and somehow nobody thought of her as a villain.
Min: As a saint. Today, [she’s thought of] as a saint. And she has done great things, but boy.
Simmons: It’s incredible how she pulled that off.
Min: Incredible. Um … OK, god, the Mount Rushmore. I mean, Paris [Hilton] filed her application to be on Mount Rushmore but failed — was not admitted.
Simmons: Yeah, she seemed like almost a lock in 2006.
Simmons: What killed her was the terrible reality show she did. It made her seem less cool for some reason …
Min: There’s nothing there. But I also think she was exposed to the point that — we try to generally like our celebrities, and she was exposed as sort of a [not very] nice person, right? … Just vicious to her friends, and you know, things that of course sound so silly to talk about today, but …
Simmons: Yeah, the Kardashians are much better at convincing me that they’re real, relatable people. Which I think is part of the charm of that show [Keeping Up With the Kardashians]. … Anytime my wife is watching it — she doesn’t watch it that often — but I watch 50 minutes and go, “Kim seems like a nice person.” And then you go, “Oh, there’s 19 cameras on her.”
Min: Totally. But I think the enduring theme of the Kardashians that works so well is it’s essentially a family show. Right?
Simmons: Yeah, and they all look out for each other, and they remind people of their own weird families.
Min: Right! A couple weeks ago, there were the pictures of Kanye, like “Fat Kanye,” who looks like he put on some weight, and I was just reading the commentary around that, and it was so different …
Simmons: The whole fat-shaming thing that came out of it, yeah …
Min: But to underscore some of the reasons why the Kardashians persist, it made me think. … They’ve been able to demonstrate themes that people relate to, that kind of reveal a goodness that makes people like them.
The Future of Us Weekly
Simmons: You know, I do think social media kind of killed Us Weekly. Not that Us Weekly’s dead, but there’s no question, like the accessibility of Instagram, and Twitter, and being able to just get pictures whenever you want from any celebrity you like, versus relying on Us Weekly.
Min: Well, “Just Like Us” — like, I’ll show you my [own] “Just Like Us.” I’m not going to rely on a third party to do that, right?
Simmons: You could see, like, last night. All these celebrities now tweet all these Halloween pictures of themselves and their kids. The NBA players all do it, too. The NBA players have all learned from the real celebrities, and now they’ve cultivated their own celebrity. And 10 years ago, that’s a whole Us Weekly section of Halloween pictures.
Min: Oh my god, there would have been a photo editor calling around, trying to get photos of Halloween costumes. So, yeah, [social media] killed it. I think when you think about printed publications and why they even exist [anymore], and even to some degree, editors — I always wonder how much people actually care about or know about editors. But that whole idea that there [was], at one point, an 80-page thing that people got every week, and they would sit there and enjoy whatever that creation was, because it was very heavily curated, right? Does that experience, can that experience still exist?