News that Teri Hatcher is to do a Gwyneth Paltrow and launch her own lifestyle Web site–apologies, it’s not a Web site, but an “online destination”–courtesy of the Disney Family is slightly lost on me. It is, apparently, a “chick’s guide to life,” but I am a little unsure of why Walt’s successors might want to choose Ms. Hatcher for the job. And, it has to be said, I’m a little confused as to why Teri Hatcher would want to market herself in such a way.
I know that the actress’s talents run to more than just pulling a face as her towel falls off on Wisteria Lane. She’s written a book, Burnt Toast and Other Philosophies of Life, and there’s no doubt she’s a clever little sausage–her Mom was a computer programmer for Lockheed Martin, while her Dad was a nuclear physicist and electrical engineer–but I’m just not sure whether we’re ready for yet another model-turned-actress-turned-Internet sensation, or a Martha Stewart or Oprah-style figure.
The trouble is this: Oprah and Martha are genuine phenomena, more than just famous faces who decided to capitalize on their fame and become media mammoths. Martha is a genuinely smart chick (*cough* insider dealing *cough* aside) who can do more than just fold a napkin into the shape of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or Scary, Butch Bunk Mate (Prisoner No. 0001722). And Oprah is a legend. How else would you describe her?
Gwyneth and Teri, however, are actresses. Now then, what do actresses do? They have agents. They have body doubles. Some of them have stalkers. They have a limo. They want to save whales, but they don’t believe in an ounce of extra blubber on their own bodies. (Yes, I suppose I’m trying to say that some of them may or may not have eating issues–Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore are two who have spoken up about the hell of the acting profession, where food is a dirty word, and someone like Christina Hendricks is seen as fat.) Sometimes they see themselves as role models–and, to a certain extent they are, but lifestyle CEOs they ain’t.
Thus, urged on by their agent/stalker/limo driver, they set up a website like Get Hatched, with a “Chick Chat” widget that asks the general public to send in ideas of what they would like to see on the site (shorthand for, well, the concept is absolutely great, but what the hell are we going to put in it? I know! Let’s pretend we have a symbiotic relationship with our potential punters and we’ll ask them what it is they want. Maybe Teri would like to write a post on what how she trained up bears to fight Bin Laden, and thus discovered her inner “Contact us” button. I know I would like to hear more about that.)
And so you get a whole raft of ideas that are duller than those bits of rock dug out of the ground by paleontologists and hailed as prehistoric dinosaur turds. Green stuff. Parenting. What to feed your kids (clue: bears.) Dating. Manners. Single motherhood. Now, I’m sure that Teri knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things–including where the petrol goes in her electric car and how to flambée a banana without getting grease spots on her shirt. But she is, first and foremost, an actress–and, given the right role, a great one.
Steve Jobs, no doubt, is an accomplished kazoo player in his spare time, but would he translate his love of the kazoo into the iKazoo? No he wouldn’t. (Actually, he’s batshit single-minded enough to, so, c’mon Steve, what are you waiting for?) Are we going to see Facebook clothes? Twitter tampons? Cheeto-flavored stationery products?
An actor, if he or she is successful, will play a myriad of roles throughout their careers–and perhaps this is why so many of them fall into the trap of diversifying. Because they’re so used to learning how to speak Slav-accented Italian for a three-month shoot (Tilda Swinton) or teaching themselves how to paint with their left foot (Daniel Day Lewis) that they think that they can do just about anything they want.
Blame the haters–I suppose you can add me to the list, seeing as I’m writing a mildly critical post on Teri’s latest venture, but this is not a post motivated by jealousy. Merely that, by setting yourself up as a lifestyle guru, you set yourself up for a fall. Public figures are prone to scandal, and the merest whiff of one will have your critics pulling up the page on your blog when you told everyone how to save the planet–and then bought yourself a private jet to fly around the world telling them about it.
The deal should be this. If Teri has had enough of acting, or she’s worried that Hollywood will, one day, decide it’s had enough of her, then she should get out of the business and then take her talents to another arena. Having a Web site on which she pontificates about how she gets said butter stains out of said shirt, won’t do her acting career any favors. Unless, of course, Teri is planning on setting up a chain of dry cleaners in the Santa Monica area, in which case she’s halfway there.