I'm always fascinated when "Parade" magazine publishes its annual "what people earn" report, and this week's issue was very interesting. Business magazines, sports newsletters and others run these lists; but "Parade" combines celebrities with usual and unusual occupations, and the range is mind-boggling.
The message boils down to "celebrities earn soooooooooooooooooo much money." A few do, of course, like most professions. But, parents, don't let your children grow up to be celebrities, despite what magazines say your kids can earn.
Let me get the numbers out of the way.
Miley Cyrus, age 15, is on the cover, as "singer/actress" with annual earnings of $18.2 million. She shares the cover with a hospital clown (45-year-old man, $28,000), deputy sheriff (age 31, $35,000), farmer (50, $30,000), Air Force fire chief (34, $70,000), psychic (55, $38,000) and, alas, Spanish teacher (age 38, $38,000 per year). Of course, you'd want your child to earn infinitely more than a hospital clown; but it's not that easy.
There's no shortage of professions in our country with a range of salaries. Others on the "Parade" cover were a billiards player ($650,000), car sales manager ($205,000), bounty hunter ($74,000), hedge-fund manager ($3.5 billion), airline baggage agent ($24,000) and tow-truck driver ($42,000).
You don't have to tell me what money can buy. Stories of my family's finances sound right out of my husband's "Dynasty" or "Beverly Hills 90210" plots. (Don't believe everything you read....)
Please realize that careers that pay teenagers $18.2 million annually are not common or accessible, and they are the exception, not the rule. One of the real insights living in L.A. is seeing all the incredibly talented people who believe they are just one break or chance away from fame and fortune. There just aren't that many chances or breaks in a world of talented people.
I read a "Newsweek" story last year about celebrity and have been haunted by it ever since.
The story quoted a book, "Fame Junkies," by Jake Halperin. It reported that "43.4 percent of teenage girls said their No. 1 career goal was celebrity assistant - just being close enough to smell the red carpet has become its own reward," the magazine reported.
There just aren't that many jobs for celebrity assistants. And, most of them don't get that close to the red carpet. They are the same as any other assistants - making travel arrangements, bookkeeping, typing, doing Christmas card lists and other jobs we used to refer to as "secretarial." Very few become members of a celebrity "posse" or "entourage." Even the entourage on HBO's "Entourage" are a half-brother and two other friends from the old neighborhood.
We even have a television show that asks "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire." Who doesn't?
Just know that celebrity is a long-shot. It's never too early to manage expectations, both yours and those of your children.