September 27, 2004 --
By ORLA HEALY
While Star Jones has long had a reputation for enjoying celebrity freebies, one high-level editor described this as a "naked shakedown."
STAR Jones is fast becoming the face of a toxic new phenomenon: the celebrity Bride-zilla. Remember when Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas sold the rights to their wedding pictures for $1.8 million in 2000?
Compared to Star Jones' recent antics, the Douglas' cash-out almost sounds classy.
The news - which broke on Page Six - that Jones was considering corporate sponsorship to finance a wedding day spa (housed in a tent outside St. Bartholomew's church, natch) has generated howls of disbelief in wedding-planning and celebrity-magazine circles.
The written proposal obtained by The Post requested six makeup artists, eight hairstylists and 10 mani-pedi stations to staff the bridal spa for Jones and her guests. It also offered beauty companies the "opportunity," to fork over $4,500 to be the "event sponsor" or to pay $1,500 to provide product for "Oscar style," gift bags.
A high-level editor of one glossy weekly, who asked to remain anonymous, described the request as "a naked shake-down."
When presented with the proposal that billed Star's wedding-day spa as "an outstanding product placement opportunity," with "guaranteed press," the editor sighed: "The idea of what these weddings are is getting turned on its head. It seems to be less a celebration of two people's union than a marketing opportunity. The nakedness of the shake-down is astounding."
"Nobody I've ever worked with would have dared asked for anything like this," gasped one celebrity wedding planner, who asked to remain anonymous.
"It's not unusual for a celebrity bride to, say, ask to get the cake at cost if she's offering some quid-pro-quo ... such as posing for a picture, with the cake, for a national magazine," she continued.
"But I've never heard anything as declass‚ as a celebrity seeking this kind of sponsorship. It's unbelievably cheap."
Jones, who has long had a reputation for enjoying the freebies that go with her celeb lifestyle, initially raised eyebrows when she launched a Web site to chronicle every detail of her Nov. 13 nuptials to fianc‚ Al Reynolds - complete with sponsorship by "vendors" like Continental Airlines.
StarandAl.com is creating a buzz - but probably not the kind "vendors," want.
On one message board, a visitor responds to Star's declaration that she can't believe her luck in finding Reynolds (who has "everything I had on my 'what I want in a man list'") with a pointed, "Well, a girl has to have her priorities straight."
The 42-year-old Jones, who became a household name as one of the personalities on "The View," further pushed the envelope of questionable taste by relentlessly referring to the supposedly top-secret wedding on TV, turning "The View," into a personal podium for nuptial neurosis - and relentless self-promotion.
Viewers of the recent pre-Emmy red-carpet show were treated to Jones gushing about the fabulousness of her wedding - and the size of her ring - for two hours.
"Such blatant commercialization bothers me," says Marcy Blum, an event planner and author of the upcoming "Weddings for Dummies."
Blum, who has worked on plenty of celebrity weddings, says she would shy away from accepting a commission that offered "guaranteed press" in lieu of payment.
"My landlord wouldn't accept my press kit," she jokes.
"But seriously, this kind of thing cheapens what we do and it is disrespectful to the people who are providing a service. Equally," Blum adds, "there are plenty of celebrities to work for who wouldn't dream of behaving this way.
"Very famous people, like Oprah and Joan Rivers, who probably could have anything they want for free, not only insist on paying their bills, but they also have a reputation for sending their event planners a thank-you gift, too."
Just a thought. Rather than the $10,500 silver tray Star is listed requesting on a Tiffany gift registry, maybe one of her best friends should buy her a copy of "Bride's Book of Etiquette" instead.