I’ve watched it, and I have to admit that it was both refreshing and odd to see this side of the socialite.

I’m betting I won’t be alone in that assessment once people have had a chance to view the film.

With her tiny dogs and humongous paychecks for club appearances, Hilton portrayed herself for many years as a seemingly vapid party girl who didn’t know what Walmart was in an episode of her reality show, “The Simple Life.” (The series, which also starred Nicole Richie, ran from 2003 to 2007.)

That scene, we learn in the documentary, was carefully crafted by Hilton, right along with her public persona.

“This Is Paris” explores what was really going on with Hilton beyond the fame and endless paparazzi photographs.

Now 39 and a successful entrepreneur, Hilton has evolved and so has popular culture since she first burst onto the scene. We can now view her as both the trailblazer and harbinger of what was to come.

Here’s some of what we can thank (blame?) Hilton for:

Selfies: Well before the word was included in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, Hilton had perfected the art of the self-portrait.

She addresses this with a tone of regret in the documentary.

“Now I see the little girls … they’re trying to get the perfect selfie,” she said. “They’re putting the filters on, they can’t even look at themselves in the phone without putting a filter. I can’t even imagine a 13-year-old girl today.”

Social media influencers: Social media platforms are now filled with influencers who have accumulated mass followings for their makeup tutorials or eating large quantities of food just for show (no seriously, it’s called “Mukbang” and it’s totally a thing).

Hilton sounds like she feels guilty with the role she helped play by being one of the first people whose lives attracted a public following hanging on their every move.

“Everyone says I’m the original influencer, but sometimes I feel like I helped create a monster,” she said in her documentary.

Not that she’s not susceptible to that monster.

Via an app installed on her phone, Hilton was able to discover that she has spent an average of 16 hours a day on social media.

“It’s literally like years of your life spent just looking at a phone,” she said about adding it all up.

Celebrity sex tapes: The socialite became an international star in 2003 when a leaked sex tape from two years prior that featured Hilton getting it on with then-boyfriend Rick Salomon went public.

Hilton had some thoughts about how it all came about given that she was 18 at the time it was filmed, and she said Salomon was her first real relationship.

After that, amateur porn films featuring stars became practically a cottage industry.

The Kardashians: Speaking of sex tapes, let’s not forget that Kim Kardashian West first popped on the scene as Hilton’s friend/assistant/stylist back in the early 2000s.

Kardashian West’s infamous 2002 sex tape with then-boyfriend singer Ray J found its way to the world in 2007.

Soon after, she and her family debuted on the hit E! series “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” (more on that later) which has made them a fortune thanks to their spin-offs, business ventures and constant social media presence.

Kardashian West made an appearance in the documentary and gave Hilton her due.

“I wouldn’t be here today were it not for her starting off in the reality world and introducing me,” Kardashian West said.

For her part, Hilton seemed to be less focused on her past achievements and more desiring of healing from her past traumas, which came to light during the filming of the documentary.

For all her success (including $3 billion in sales from her product lines according to the doc), the love of her fans — including two who fly 30 hours to Korea for one of her appearances — and her jet-set lifestyle, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Hilton after watching “This Is Paris.”

“I don’t even know who I am sometimes,” she said, noting that at times her life resembles a cartoon to her.

But after watching her film, I feel like at least she’s trying to grow as a person — and aren’t we all?

For your weekend

Three things to watch:

Lamorne Morris stars in "Woke," which draws humor from a Black cartoonist's political awakening.


When up-and-coming cartoonist Keef Knight has a traumatic run-in with the police, he begins to see the world in an entirely new and different way.

Inspired by the life and work of artist Keith Knight, this comedy series takes an irreverent look at identity and culture as it follows the cartoonist, who is on the verge of mainstream success when the incident changes his life.

CNN critic Brian Lowry wrote that the series “pairs eccentric humor and characters with its timely real-world echoes.”
“Woke” is streaming on Hulu.
Bette Midler in "Coastal Elites."

‘Coastal Elites’

We literally now have pandemic programming.

HBO’s “Coastal Elites” debuts Saturday at 8 p.m. ET and is billed as “a socially distanced comedic satire that spotlights five characters breaking down and breaking through as they grapple with politics, culture and the pandemic.”

Starring Bette Midler, Kaitlyn Dever, Dan Levy, Sarah Paulson and Issa Rae, the film is part of what we can expect to see as Hollywood reflects the times in which we all now find ourselves.

The question is this: Do viewers want quarantine content while they are quarantining?

HBO is owned by CNN’s parent company.

(From left) Tracee Ellis Ross, Jill Marie Jones, Golden Brooks and Persia White in a scene from "Girlfriends."


Fans of “Girlfriends,” know that I have personally appealed to creator Mara Brock Akil for closure.

Back in 2016 I interviewed her at the American Black Film Festival and all but begged her to do a “Girlfriends” movie.

“It’s hard to let go if characters are out to sea,” Akil said at the time. “I understand what the audience wants because there’s a part of me that wants it as well.”

But she added that she thought the time had passed to revisit those characters.

Well, thank goodness for Netflix.

All eight seasons of “Girlfriends” starts streaming on Netflix Friday as part of its Strong Black Lead initiative.

The series about four African American girlfriends has become a cult classic, fueling the desire to revive that love, which ended when the series went off the air in 2008 after eight seasons.

Tracee Ellis Ross, who starred as the protagonist Joan Carol Clayton, Esq., whetted our appetite last year on her current series, “Black-ish,” when she reunited with her “Girlfriends” cast members Golden Brooks, Jill Marie Jones and Persia White for a scene.

So plan on spending some quality time with Joan, Lynn, Maya and Toni this weekend.

Two things to listen to:

My book club just finished “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, which I listened to on Audible, and I am still astounded.

The plot revolves around Alicia Berenson, a famous painter who is convicted of shooting her husband to death and who stops talking completely after the alleged crime.

Sentenced to an institution, she encounters a therapist who becomes determined to get her to communicate and unravel the mystery of what really happened.

I’ve done a bit of mystery writing myself (in the anthologies “A Hell of a Woman” and “Baltimore Noir”) and pride myself on figuring out plots. But this time I was floored by the ending.

It’s incredibly well done.

The Flaming Lips perform in socially distant bubbles on Stephen Colbert's late night show.

If you are looking to rock out, The Flaming Lips have a new album dropping on Friday.

“American Head,” the band’s latest studio album, was inspired in part by the death of rocker Tom Petty in 2017.

Singer Wayne Coyne told the Orange County Register that after watching a documentary about Petty that mentioned a 1974 stopover in Tulsa, Oklahoma — the Lips’ home state — his imagination took over.

Coyne began to imagine the type of music Petty and the band Mudcrutch might have made had they recorded there before Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers became famous.

What resulted, Coyne said, is not so much an album in which the Lips were striving to sound like Petty, but one that captures that singer-songwriter type of spirit.

“I think it’s a wonderful, mellow, sad but sort of, you know, beautiful, homesick kind of album now,” Coyne said. “Now that we’ve come out the other side.”

One thing to talk about:

"Keeping Up With the Kardashians" is winding down after 14 years on air.

The end of an era is nearing.

Through all the drama, breakups, makeups, babies and meme-worthy moments (who among us hasn’t used or seen the one of Kim Kardashian West crying hysterically?), “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” has kept us entertained.

Sandra Gonzalez reported this week that the series is set to come to an end after 20 seasons.

Fourteen years is a long time to spend with any family, and us old heads remember when Kylie Jenner was a little girl who had yet to be introduced to the world of makeup and lip fillers.

But why now? Why leave when 2020 is just now getting good (tongue firmly inserted in cheek regarding that because we all know that 2020 is the year of dumpster fires)?

The family said in a statement released to CNN that they decided together “to end this very special journey.”

“We are beyond grateful to all of you who’ve watched us for all of these years — through the good times, the bad times, the happiness, the tears, and the many relationships and children,” the statement read. “We’ll forever cherish the wonderful memories and countless people we’ve met along the way.”

I would like to submit to you that they are also ending the show at a time when cable viewership is waning and streaming rules.

Not to mention the tension we’ve seen between the sisters in the past few seasons — Kim and Kourtney traded blows last season — which could totally be manufactured for the show, but doesn’t rule out the fact that constantly being around your family can wear down even the best of us.

Not to worry, though. I feel on solid ground predicting that we have not seen the last of the Kardashian/Jenner clan. One does not live practically every second of their lives on camera to fade gently into ye yonder night.

Something to sip on

Oscars statuettes are on display backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 9 in Hollywood, California.
There is already plenty of debate happening about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announcement this week that movies have to meet certain representation criteria in order to be eligible for the Academy Award for Best Picture beginning in 2024.

Some people are crying foul and blaming “leftist politics” for what they view as ramming representation down the throats of filmmakers.

Actress and outspoken Trump supporter Kirstie Alley tweeted, and then deleted, that the new rules were “dictatorial” and “anti-artist.”

She later tweeted “I deleted my first tweet about the new rules for best movie OSCARS because I feel it was a poor analogy & misrepresented my viewpoint. I am 100% behind diversity inclusion & tolerance. I’m opposed to MANDATED ARBITRARY percentages relating to hiring human beings in any business.”

As is often the case when the discussion turns to quotas and such, the bigger issue of why such measures are instituted is missed.

Like the rest of society, Hollywood is facing plenty of discussion about how to level the playing field, which so far has not been equal for people of color.

The #OscarsSoWhite movement grabbed hold because there has been a very real issue regarding the lack of diversity in the industry.

Opponents of affirmative action often present it as some sort of advantage being handed to people of color, while never quite seeming to want to acknowledge the disadvantages that got us here.

While I understand that equality can feel like oppression to those who have long held power, there is a simple way to end the seeming need for such decisions: Recognize that systemic racism exists and do better.

Pop back here next Thursday for all the latest happenings that matter in Hollywood.

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