Paramount Brings a Bunch of Stars Together, Looks Silly

Slate's Culture Blog
June 12 2012 4:11 PM

The Irony of Paramount’s Star-Studded Photo

137862769
Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey and director Martin Scorsese

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for DGA

To celebrate its 100th Anniversary, Paramount Pictures has released a publicity spread featuring 116 movie stars who have contributed to the studio’s success. The photo garners an impressive array of talent, from heavy hitters like Spielberg and DeNiro to the less cinematically notable (like pop singer Justin Bieber, who playfully hangs off the side of a staircase, presumably in celebration of his concert film Never Say Never). The picture calls to mind a great 1944 publicity still from MGM, the studio whose slogan once claimed to have “more stars than there are in the heavens.”

file
MGM publicity still from 1944

Of course, technically speaking, Paramount doesn’t currently have any stars: The studio system has been dead since the Supreme Court lay down the Paramount Decree in 1948, an anti-trust decision that freed stars from rigid contracts that forced them to work with only one studio. Soon after the decision, the Screen Actors Guild was born.

Advertisement

MGM’s 1944 photo features all the stars that were then under contract to that studio. Many MGM stars—such as Gene Kelly and June Allyson—remain indelibly linked in the popular imagination with MGM, which was best known for its musicals and comedies. (Warner was known for its gangster films, Universal for its monster flicks.)

Paramount’s new publicity photo, on the other hand, brings together some of “the greatest talents ever to work at the studio”—meaning, basically, anyone famous who was once in a movie put out by Paramount.  The studio’s original logo featured 24 stars around a mountain-top to symbolize its 24 performers under contract, an image that has long since lost its original meaning. This new photo, however star-studded, feels equally meaningless.

Paramount is not the only studio celebrating 100 years in 2012: at the Tribeca Film Festival, DeNiro was on hand (along with Judd Apatow) to help celebrate Universal’s centennial—by, for some reason, simply ignoring that studio’s legacy. Ironically, by marking these anniversaries, both Paramount and Universal have highlighted just how little connection they now have to their storied pasts.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.