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Last Updated: Friday, 4 April, 2003, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
From A-List to Z-List

By Marcelle D'Argy Smith
Former Cosmopolitan editor

A dive into the murky realms of C-List celebrity reveals just how much talent is needed to climb to the giddy heights of A-List superstardom.

Ah - celebrity , the new buzzword of the age.

Jade Goody
Big Brother's Jade Goody became a tabloid regular
But it seems that anyone can hit headlines. Talent and achievement are definitely not requirements for celebrity status - heavens no - look at Jade or Jordan.

Of course, it helps to be beautiful, young, enormously photogenic, well dressed (or half undressed) if you're a woman, and a footballer, rock, film or TV star if you're a man.

You also need an insatiable desire to be famous.

But due to the increasing number of talent-free, ego-maniacs making the news it has been deemed necessary by savvy public relations people and tabloid editors to classify celebrities.

They fall into A-List, B-List, C-List and so on and it is, of course, possible to move from one to the other.

Catherine Zeta Jones is married to Hollywood star Michael Douglas
If celebrity status is your objective, you might try the following suggestions:

Date, live with, marry someone famous.

Would former B-List Catherine Zeta Jones be so dazzlingly A List now if not for her marriage Hollywood Royalty and multi-millionaire international film-star Michael Douglas?

And we might never have heard of film producer Trudi Styler, (A-List but slipping,) and model and actress Liz Hurley, (still A-List,) if they hadn't been revealingly dressed, as is celeb protocol, and on the arms of their more famous partners - Sting and ex-boyfriend Hugh Grant.

Be intimate with somebody famous and sell your story.

If you're a bit well-known but they're not exactly queuing around the block, publish your memoirs including details of your sex life.

Tabloid editors and their readers are, as they say, gagging for it.

TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson zipped into the A-List with her revelations about a relationship with England football manager Sven Goran Eriksson.

But the public may tire of her - they're yawning already and she could well be back on her way down to B-List - she was voted out early from this year's Celebrity Fame Academy talent show.

Elizabeth Hurley
Elizabeth Hurley is famed for her headline-hitting outfits
Get on Big Brother, Castaway, Pop Idol

Strut your excruciatingly mediocre stuff on the telly and you're a celebrity. - eg Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates, Big Brother housemate Jade, the now defunct Popstars band Hear'Say.

You may make it to the pages of Hello!, Heat and Now and appear in The Sun, but you're always irredeemably C-List until they forget you altogether. This happens very quickly.

Have your breasts enlarged

A touch of silicone worked wonders for the careers of Pamela Anderson, Anna Nicole Smith, Melinda Messenger and Jordan.

Get involved in a scandal... or know a man who is

Former Have I Got News For You? host Angus Deayton was hideously A-List during the height of the scandal about his love life and use of drugs. (There are good As and bad As).

Due to his intelligence and urbane wit he was on the fringes of A-List before, but the sex and drug stories kept him firmly in the centre ground - until he lost his job.

Be in any British soap or be a British TV presenter

It is entirely impossible to get excited about presenters like Gaby Roslin, Cilla Black, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen or stars of Coronation Street, Eastenders or Brookside.

Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love
But they're celebrities in Hello! magazine terms. Firmly Bs and Cs though.

Oh just be talented and attractive for heaven's sake

This is a difficult notion for many wannabes to grasp. But out there amidst the dross and teeming sea of desperate souls there are, gasp, real celebrities.

They're often glamorous but they have that one thing that defines their A-List status - talent, which is rare and not much valued in Britain.

Gwyneth Paltrow isn't just a beautiful woman. She's supremely talented and A-List for as long as she shows up.

Jude Law
Jude Law's career is on the ascendant
Ditto Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman, and Kylie Minogue as long as she belts out hit records.

Jude Law and Hugh Grant are also very A List - beautiful, talented men.

It's not about age either.

Joanna Lumley, Helen Mirren, Catherine Deneuve, still make the grade, as do David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Jack Nicholson.

But, of course, the real question is does any of this really matter?

It is safe to say the outstanding talents don't give a damn.

Timothy Spall
Timothy Spall is well regarded in the acting world
Tom Cruise called Timothy Spall to beg him to be in his next picture.

And it wasn't because Mr Spall was at a glittering première. When everyone in the know knows how talented you are, you can stay home and let them come to you. It's much more rewarding and stylish.


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