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How Does a Celebrity Get a Star on the Walk of Fame?

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For those who don’t live in Hollywood, there are a couple landmarks that are immediately identifiable: the Hollywood sign and Hollywood Boulevard, with its star-shaped parade of famous names known as the Walk of Fame. First constructed in 1958, the Walk is run through the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and the process of getting a star on it is actually more complicated than you might think.

To start, a celebrity must be nominated, and an application must be sent to the selection committee, which is made of one chairman and five committee members each of whom represents a different area of the industry. According to Ana Martinez, producer and vice president of media relations at the Walk of Fame, these departments are TV, Recording, Motion Pictures, Live Performance, and Radio. Each application is good for two attempts; if they still don’t get in, Martinez says they “can reapply over and over again.”

The criteria for selection are: Who is popular? Whose star will be the big tourist draw? Celebrities must also have been in the industry for five years or more (which Martinez termed “longevity”). Other considerations: Charitable contributions and awards (so it is an honor just to be nominated!).

The fee is around $30,000 for what is called a “star sponsorship,” which covers the physical marker itself, a replica plaque to take home, and the ceremony’s various bells and whistles: security (personnel and barricades), publicity, photography, staging, recording. Although the celebrities could probably pay (a drop of water in a vast ocean, as they say), their stars are “sponsored” by studios, fan clubs, record labels, or other outside parties with a stake in that celebrity doing well. (These are also the people who nominate a celebrity for a star in the first place.)

The most prominent spots are at the W Hotel, Roosevelt Hotel, and Hollywood and Highland, according to Martinez. “Those, to me, are good for bigger stars as they have more space," she says. "Every spot is good and I try to tie the person’s bio to that location. Near family members, locations that they may have worked with or with their favorite star. Celebrities are fans too.”

Jane Lynch is the most recent celebrity to get a star in a ceremony held on September 4. Currently, there are 2505 celebrities with markers on the Walk (the 2500th star was Jennifer Lopez). Next year’s class is Orlando Bloom, Ray Dolby, Sally Field, Jack Harris, Jessica Lange, Matthew McConaughey, Liam Neeson, Paul Mazursky and Tom Sherak, Dabney Coleman, Kaley Cuoco, Claire Danes, Giancarlo Esposito, Deidre Hall, Cheryl Hines, Don Mischer, Tavis Smiley, Katy Perry, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Rick Springfield and—posthumously—Phil Hartman and Tupac Shakur.

However, Martinez says that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone on that list will enjoy ceremonies next year. Apparently you have five years to arrange for a ceremony, or the offer expires. (Denzel Washington was selected and approved at some point, Martinez said, but never set a date.) And there have been major missteps that have delayed some stars' proper place in the line of their peers over the years. There’s the old tale of how Charlie Chaplin didn’t get a star until 1972, mostly because during the Red Scare he refused to testify before Senator Joseph McCarthy. (Chaplin’s son sued the Chamber for $400,000 in damages for excluding his dad, but lost.)

But if you ask why Clint Eastwood, George Clooney and Julia Roberts aren't there (the three most often-cited "why the heck aren't they on there?" stars), it's because they turned it down. In Eastwood’s case, there has been a space reserved for him for years. "I will try a little longer" to get Eastwood, Martinez says, "but may have to move on to someone else. I have my eyes set on someone as we speak.”

The chamber’s office is located on the Walk of Fame. Half of the $30,000 star sponsorship goes toward the ceremony and the other half goes to the Hollywood Historic Trust, which keeps up with restoration efforts. After all, if there’s one sin in Hollywood, it’s aging. And after being stepped on for years, the Walk's cracks are beginning to show. Martinez adds, “She is 52 and in need of a facelift, and these ceremonies help with those bills."

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Why Does Turkey Make You Tired?
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Why do people have such a hard time staying awake after Thanksgiving dinner? Most people blame tryptophan, but that's not really the main culprit. And what is tryptophan, anyway?

Tryptophan is an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. It can't be produced by our bodies, so we need to get it through our diet. From which foods, exactly? Turkey, of course, but also other meats, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, dairy products, eggs, chickpeas, peanuts, and a slew of other foods. Some of these foods, like cheddar cheese, have more tryptophan per gram than turkey. Tryptophan doesn't have much of an impact unless it's taken on an empty stomach and in an amount larger than what we're getting from our drumstick. So why does turkey get the rap as a one-way ticket to a nap?

The urge to snooze is more the fault of the average Thanksgiving meal and all the food and booze that go with it. Here are a few things that play into the nap factor:

Fats: That turkey skin is delicious, but fats take a lot of energy to digest, so the body redirects blood to the digestive system. Reduced blood flow in the rest of the body means reduced energy.

Alcohol: What Homer Simpson called the cause of—and solution to—all of life's problems is also a central nervous system depressant.

Overeating: Same deal as fats. It takes a lot of energy to digest a big feast (the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3000 calories and 229 grams of fat), so blood is sent to the digestive process system, leaving the brain a little tired.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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How Are Balloons Chosen for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?
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The balloons for this year's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade range from the classics like Charlie Brown to more modern characters who have debuted in the past few years, including The Elf On The Shelf. New to the parade this year are Olaf from Disney's Frozen and Chase from Paw Patrol. But how does the retail giant choose which characters will appear in the lineup?

Balloon characters are chosen in different ways. For example, in 2011, Macy’s requested B. Boy after parade organizers saw the Tim Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. (The company had been adding a series of art balloons to the parade lineup since 2005, which it called the Blue Sky Gallery.) When it comes to commercial balloons, though, it appears to be all about the Benjamins.

First-time balloons cost at least $190,000—this covers admission into the parade and the cost of balloon construction. After the initial year, companies can expect to pay Macy’s about $90,000 to get a character into the parade lineup. If you consider that the balloons are out for only an hour or so, that’s about $1500 a minute.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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