Every business has secrets they don’t want their loving and faithful customers to know. After all, would customers love them so much if they knew that they allegedly cheated their employees out of healthcare (like Starbucks), intentionally damaged merchandise to create the appearance of selling more (like Barnes and Noble), or siphoned charitable funds for bonuses (like the Salvation Army)? Every company and every industry has plenty of dirty secrets they don’t want you to know about, including the entertainment industry. Hollywood seems to be a magnet for artists, businessmen, confidence men, politicians, and crooks that are prepared to cut shady and suspicious deals with high stakes. Hollywood’s sketchy dealings are no new developments, either; they’re as old as the industry is.
It’s easy to turn a blind eye to all the shady things that go on behind the scenes of our favorite shows and celebrities’ lives; they don’t want us to know, so it’s easy to pretend not to know. Plus, some of these secrets really don’t matter. Who really cares if someone was or was not gay, or if someone’s award was well-deserved or not? However, perhaps we ought not to turn a blind eye to some of these other secrets Hollywood tries to keep quiet.
It’s time to check out the skeletons in the closet and to shed light on some of Hollywood’s shadier corners! Here they are: fifteen dirty secrets that Hollywood doesn’t want you to know!
15. Awards Aren’t Given Entirely Based on Merit
At smaller award shows, like the MTV Video Music Awards or the Teen Choice Awards, winning celebrities are clearly told that they will win their category before the event. Celebrity photographers claim that during the show, celebrities will hang out backstage and talk to friends until their category is announced; then they’ll sit in the audience and pretend to be surprised. The Oscars and Golden Globes are different, but just barely. A Golden Globe can be won with as few as nineteen votes because of the small size of the voting body. Furthermore, both the Golden Globes and Oscars have been accused of accepting bribes and rigging their votes. Many times, actors have been nominated simply because of their name (no one really thinks Jim Carrey ought to have been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in How the Grinch Stole Christmas) or because of their popularity at the time (the academy knew we’d all riot if Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t win an Oscar this year).
14. Movies Based on Novels Attempt to Scam Authors Out of Millions
Some of the greatest movies out there right now are based on novels. The Hunger Games, Divergent, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, The Jungle Book, and The Martian were all based on best selling novels and novel series. These movies have all made fortunes and you’d certainly expect that the authors of these novels would have made fortunes off of them, but that isn’t always the case. It’s actually fairly frequent that authors are taken advantage of and lose the financial benefits of their stories. The most famous case of writers being taken advantage of is that with Forrest Gump; though author Winston Groom was paid an initial fee for screenplay rights, Hollywood accountants found a way to keep further revenue from leaving producers’ and studios’ hands and going into his. About a decade after Forrest Gump came out, Groom finally got some residual earnings. This is a fairly common occurrence, though, and authors are commonly made victims of these accounting loopholes.
13. Celebrities Don’t Buy All Their Nice Clothes – They’re Gifts
There are plenty of reasons to envy celebrities: fame, fortune, popularity – take your pick! One of the many reasons so many celebrities are envied is because of their lavish lifestyles, with their fancy homes, pricey cars, and expensive clothes. In reality, celebrities are actually given many of their most expensive possessions by designers and corporations. Gowns worn to awards shows, like the Golden Globes, Oscars, and VMAs, are the most common/expensive/coveted gifts from designers because the red carpet coverage preceding award shows gives clothing and dress designers wild press and media coverage. However, the gifts go far beyond gowns: celebrities frequently get free cars from dealerships looking for endorsements, free services from companies and corporations looking either for endorsements or just celebrity favor, and free casual clothing, accessories, and shoes from designers hoping for magazine or tabloid coverage. Sure, these celebrities are still enviable, but they can’t afford all the amazing things they own.
12. Many Classic Movie Stars Were In The Closet
Homophobia was so common in the 20th century, it was really the norm. That doesn’t mean that homosexuality wasn’t around, though. In fact, the entertainment industry was full of homosexual men and women that felt more comfortable being themselves in their fame and popularity and in drunken and drugged out stupors. It was easy to pursue their biological romantic interests when everyone admired them. Of course, their fame and popularity didn’t make them comfortable enough to come out of the closet: announcing their romantic interests to the American or global community would certainly ruin their careers. So it’s true: some of our greatest and most beloved celebrities, like Rock Hudson (Pillow Talk), Randolph Scott (Ride the High Country), Cary Grant (North by Northwest), and Marlon Brando (The Godfather) were all allegedly closeted homosexuals.
11. Being an Extra in Film Used to be Dangerous (Ben Hur, Hell’s Angels)
Being an extra in films these days is a low paying, unexciting job. It involves a lot of standing around and waiting, and extras are rarely afforded the opportunity to meet celebrities on set. However, things were a bit different in some of our most classic movies. Before special effects and well-designed stunts, directors went to drastic measures to make sure things looked real. For example, the famous William Wyler directed Ben-Hur (1959) suffered a casualty of one of the chariot racers; Haunted Spooks (1920), directed by Alfred Goulding, made the mistake of keeping live bombs on set and an actor blew off two of his fingers and temporarily blinded him; Hell’s Angels (1930), directed by Howard Hughes, suffered three deaths in aerial stunts; and Michael Curtiz directed the great flood scene in Noah’s Ark in which three extras drowned and one extra lost a leg. It was because of horrible accidents like these that unions, safety regulations, and governmental agencies were created to protect actors in even low level positions.
10. Most Pop Stars Lip-Sync Their Performances
To be fair, the life of a pop star is not easy these days. Pop singers are expected to tour constantly, sing wildly demanding songs for hours nightly, and be able to perform at a moment’s notice. Keeping your voice healthy and ready to belt every night is no easy task: it involves strict dietary vigilance, exercise, and a very healthy lifestyle; one that a life of partying and touring doesn’t easily support. Of course pop stars choose to take the easy route sometimes! One of the first pop stars to regularly lip sync at performances was Michael Jackson. Whitney Houston‘s iconic Super Bowl halftime performance was lip synced. Nearly every pop star that performs regularly in Las Vegas lip syncs. Though we condemn pop stars who fail or get caught lip syncing their performances, like Ashlee Simpson during her Saturday Night Live performance, it happens far more frequently than we realize.
9. The MPAA is Totally Unreliable
Don’t know what the MPAA is? Sure you do: it’s the Motion Picture Association of America, also known as the MPAA, and it determines the ratings for our movies. For decades, we’ve been deciding whether or not it’s appropriate for our kids to see movies or to take people on dates to certain movies based on the ratings determined by this organization. So how do they determine and standardize these ratings? A ratings board views the movie and determines a rating based on their opinions, and an aggregate rating is given to the film (of G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17). If producers don’t like the rating the film is given, they can request to have it re-rated an unlimited number of times. That’s how movies with exorbitant violence can end up having PG-13 ratings, or how movies with full, graphic sex scenes can be rated R instead of NC-17.
8. Many Reality Shows Have Script Outlines
We all knew this was true in our heart of hearts, but it’s not so often that it’s laid out so plainly – even though The Hills admitted with a bold-face that their show was scripted in their series finale! There’s plenty of evidence that many popular reality shows aren’t all that real: Duck Dynasty follows a scripted guideline given to them by producers, though they ad-lib many specific lines; House Hunters has a strict formula it adheres to for every episode; Keeping Up With the Kardashians has filmed scenes on a studio set that supposedly took place in Dubai! Reality shows can really be separated into two categories: planned stories, in which the show is entirely plotted out in advance (like The Bachelor and Survivor) and followed stories, in which the subject is filmed and editors sift through the film for interesting plots (like The Real World and The Osbournes were).
7. Talk Show Guests are Frequently “Coached” or Given Acting Direction
Similar to reality tv shows, talk shows aren’t exactly all that realistic. Shows like Oprah, Maury, Dr. Phil, and Jerry Springer don’t always have entirely genuine guests; or, if they do, they aren’t as genuine after the producers and showrunners get through them. Maybe this seems like a little bit of a shock, but the guests on these shows do not have that insane of lives! It may shock you, but surprise guests on Jerry Springer that haven’t seen each other in years don’t actually want to attack each other on first sight (and then dance on a strip pole moments later). Guests on all talk shows are encouraged to have wild (and sometimes violent) outbursts. Even small details, like keeping guests hydrated so that they’re able to cry, are constantly preying on producer’s minds. This is such a common practice that shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt mock it.
6. Photos of Celebrities Are Almost Always Drastically Retouched
Celebrities are certainly an attractive bunch, there’s no arguing that; they can afford all the best trainers, the best nutritionists, and the best… well, everything. But that doesn’t make them perfect. The media portrays our celebrities as soft-skinned, unblemished, sexy, perfect, gods and goddesses. News flash: they’re just like the rest of us! Almost all of the photographs in our magazines and other media are drastically retouched to make them look skinnier and tanner, with more luminous hair and pristine faces. In all reality, they have fat rolls, acne, freckles, blemishes, and other imperfections, just like everyone else.
5. Movie Critics Are Bribe-able
We take a lot on the word of the movie critic. Movie critics are given the opportunity to see movies before they come out, so we place a lot of trust in them and in their professional opinions. However, movie critics are simply journalists. Like any other kind of journalist, integrity is almost a personal preference. If a journalist chooses to adhere to the honesty and the truth, that is admirable and certainly preferable; however, it’s just as (if not more) common that a journalist would choose the more financially advantageous or beneficial option, which includes taking bribes. Companies like Disney have been accused of “owning” large numbers of movie critics that they use to their advantage, whether that means promoting their own films or insulting others. In fact, Disney was recently accused of doing this to the last Fantastic Four film, that it might damage Sony’s reputation and win back film rights to the franchise.
4. “Based On A True Story” is a Big Fat Lie
Producers love to put the tag line “based on a true story” or “inspired by true events” on the marketing materials for a film; that doesn’t mean it holds much truth. For example, the horror movie The Strangers built up most of its hype because it was “inspired by a true story” from the director’s life: the true story was someone came to the young director’s home when his parents were out and it scared him, while the movie was about a group of home invaders that torture and murder a couple just for fun. See? “Based on a true story” doesn’t mean squat. There are plenty of movies that are supposedly based on true stories, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hostel, Rudy, Ben Affleck’s Argo, and cult classic Fargo, that are really just a bunch of Hollywood writing. That’s not to say they aren’t great films; but they aren’t exactly biographical or docudramas.
3. Pedophilia is More Common Than We Know
We all like to think that everyone involved in the entertainment industry is incredibly vigilant for sexual predators, especially when there are kids around the set, and on paper, everyone certainly is: studios employ watchdogs, contracts are signed, security officers are staffed, etc. But when it gets down to it, sometimes things are overlooked. Corey Feldman, popular from his roles in Stand By Me and Goonies, is only one victim of such oversights. He admits to being victimized by sexual predators, but can’t name names; there are actually statutes in California that would protect his attackers should they be named! There are also laws surrounding how long after incidents attackers can be sued. Oscar-nominated documentarian Amy Berg (who sheds light on Hollywood’s seedy underbelly in her 2015 film, An Open Secret – whose name should scare you, considering the subject matter) believes that animals working in Hollywood have more protection than children do.
2. Hollywood’s Many Love-Children
We hear about celebrity affairs all the time! Oh no, Ben cheated on Jen; oh no, Chris cheated on Rihanna! It happens so often that we’re really not surprised anymore when a celebrity couple has to deal with an occurrence of infidelity. What we don’t get to see plastering the covers of our favorite magazines are the children that come from these infidelities. There are a shocking amount of celebrities with illegitimate children, from Hugh Grant and Eddie Murphy to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris. Some have even gone on to use their parents’ fame to benefit their own careers, such as Steve Tyler’s daughter with Bebe Buell, Liv Tyler. There are, of course, a lot of reasons to keep these births quiet: keeping paparazzi away from their children, keeping their personal mistakes out of the media, and attempting to maintain stability in their romantic relationships are only a few.
1. Women Climbing in the Industry Frequently Face Abuse
It’s a horrible and sad truth: women are subjected to criminal atrocities in the entertainment industry. Women are often put in positions where their careers are in jeopardy or even ruined if they do not agree to succumb to sexual demands. One of the most recent cases of this was that of singer Kesha‘s against Sony producer Dr. Luke. He allegedly used drugs and alcohol to remove her defenses, verbally and emotionally abused her, pressured her into bulimia, and made aggressive sexual advances. After Kesha came forward. Other artists and actresses bravely came to her defense and released their own stories, including Lady Gaga (who soon thereafter performed at the Oscars with a song about sexual assault, “Till It Happens to You”). The women are right: until we all take a stand against their heinous acts, they will persist. It’s up to all of us, both employees in the entertainment industry as well as audience members, to strengthen our moral codes so that these crimes are not overlooked or permitted any longer.