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Published: Thursday, 3/18/2010

The price of celebrity is steep -- just ask Sandra Bullock

Welcome to the Blade blog Culture Shock, a three-times-a-week riff by Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird on pop culture news, events, and trends. The blog will appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings here, with the odd night or off-day posting if something is merited.

Less than two weeks ago Sandra Bullock was on top of the world. She just won acting's highest honor, an Oscar, and the love of her life, reality TV star Jesse James, was by her side.

Now, Bullock has moved out of their home after reports surfaced that James, her husband of five years, was unfaithful to her while she was away filming her blockbuster comeback, The Blind Side, for which she won the Best Actress Oscar.

From the highest high to the lowest low in such a short time isn't unique to celebrities. That such a personal heartbreak is being played out in a public forum is.

A relative was telling me recently about the personal failings of someone she knew and trusted at her church. This person was well-liked enough that he ran a smaller bible study group on the weekends. Then one day he told his wife, who is in her mid-60s, that she "is too old and too fat" for him now and he wants a divorce.

It's bad enough the husband's actions have spread throughout the church, but at least his soon-to-be ex-wife doesn't have to deal with the nationwide humiliation like Bullock does, where everyone with access to a computer, TV, phone, newspaper, or magazine knows her business.

Yes, there is a steep price to pay for being famous. And sometimes you have to wonder if it's worth it.

Bullock did nothing wrong, as far as we know. Even James, in a statement picked up by People magazine, indicated whatever mess he's caused his wife and their family is all his doing, though he stopped short of acknowledging an infidelity on his part.

"It's because of my poor judgment that I deserve everything bad that is coming my way," James said. "This has caused my wife and kids pain and embarrassment beyond comprehension and I am extremely saddened to have brought this on them. I am truly very sorry for the grief I have caused them. I hope one day they can find it in their hearts to forgive me."

And now, because Bullock is America's Sweetheart, the actress is going into seclusion to avoid the rabid paparazzi chasing her.

Cynics say this is the price of celebrity. They say that celebrities want the multimillion-dollar contracts for films, and the glamorous lifestyle that comes with it. And that Hollywood stars don't shutout the photographers on the red carpet, or avoid the media when wanting to promote a project or pet cause.

So why, cynics ask, is it OK for celebrities to shun the spotlight when it comes to drama in their personal lives?

These cynics have a valid point. Many celebrities do try and pick and choose when to be famous. But being a star isn't something you can turn on or off. It's a full-time job -- one many of us crave and would do almost anything to have.

And to those dreaming of the Hollywood life, I would suggest taking a closer look at Bullock.

Two weeks ago the 45-year-old actress had it all. The fame, the money, the accolades, and an enviable marriage. Now she has everything but the last piece. And she's not alone. Broken marriages are part and parcel with Hollywood, a place were changing spouses is almost as easy and prevalent as changing shirts.

Is it fame that's wrecking these marriages? Maybe. It also could be ego. Or infidelity. Or addiction. In other words, celebrity marriages crumble for the same reasons as do most non-famous unions.

The difference is, millions aren't reading about your marriage when it does.

I know, I know. You wanted your MTV in the 1980s. And you want your Crystal Bowersox update now.

Well, here's what's coming up:

Sunday, look for a big story delving into the life of Crystal Bowersox. I'll tweet more about this later.

Tuesday, immediately following the American Idol telecast from 8-10 p.m., I'll be back for a live post-Idol chat. I'll talk Crystal, Siobhan, Big Mike, Simon, Kara, Randy, and Ellen, theme night, and whatever else you guys want to discuss about this season's Idol. So, get your questions ready.

Wednesday, look for the results show story online soon after the Idol is over -- you know, in case you missed the show that night.

Thursday morning, sometime between 9 and 10, I'll be live in the studio with WTOL-TV, Channel 11, and its Your Day morning show to talk Crystal. I'll be settling into a weekly Thursday or Friday slot in the newscast to offer movie reviews -- the other part of my gig -- and to talk popular culture. And Crystal.

And the week after next ... I'll do much of it all over again.

So, until Monday's blog, have a great weekend.

Agree or disagree with a posting? Lemme know. Have a topic or suggestion? Lemme know that, too. Send an e-mail to kbaird@theblade.com

or call 419-724-6734.

LINK: For all of Kirk Baird's Culture Shock riffs



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