BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Hollywood legend claims that aspiring actress Lana Turner was discovered at a drugstore soda fountain. Today, stars -- even if we use the term loosely -- are born, and implode, with a flurry of global mouse clicks.
Andy Warhol was right with his quip about everyone getting their crack at 15 minutes of fame. Fame may ultimately be fleeting on the Internet, but with Facebook and YouTube, "stars" can be made in record time. That rapid rise to fame, and the extra cash that goes along with it, can produce financial disasters.
Tila Tequila and Perez Hilton are nearly household names. The "Tron Guy" was a semi-regular on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. We all know that guy at work who imitates the "Leave Britney Alone" guy and the "double rainbow" dude" or hums "Chocolate Rain" while standing at the water cooler. Our relatives forward arguing twins and "Charlie Bit My Finger". Charlie Sheen, an actual celebrity, is now reinventing himself as a walking, talking Internet meme.With celebrity status, no matter how instant or ironic it may be, there are financial opportunities -- paid endorsements and appearances, cashing in on Web traffic, selling songs and videos. Antoine Dodson was an unknown hairdresser until an attempted home invasion and his over-the-top declarations to a TV news crew were auto-tuned into a surreal yet catchy hip-hop hit. Today, he is paid for appearances, is a regular on TV and sells catch-phrase-emblazoned merchandise on his Web site. Two months ago, did the name Rebecca Black mean anything to you? What about now, after her mom paid $2,000 (plus another $2,000 to own the master recording, though rights to the song are amid a legal dispute) to a company called Ark Music Factory to write and produce a song and video. That tune, "Friday", lampooned for its banal lyrics and auto-tuned aural assault, is a viral phenomenon. Black's video has reached nearly 102 million hits on YouTube as of this writing. She's appeared on the Tonight Show and is rumored to be in talks for a recording contract (perhaps not as big a deal as it sounds -- after all, even American Idol's William Hung had one). Yes, there has been some vicious online mockery and bullying (even death threats, her mom claims). But if the Blacks play their cards right, the young songbird will have some extra cash tucked aside for college.