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Monday, March 4, 2024

Book review: ‘The Fame Game: An Insider’s Playbook for Earning Your 15 Minutes’ by Ramon Hervey II

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Who are you?

That’s a common question and, depending on how it’s asked, you might have a dozen different answers. You’re a parent, an athlete, a hard worker, a cook, a reader, someone who’s curious, smart, colorful, serious, driven. You know who you are, and if you follow the new book “The Fame Game” by Ramon Hervey II, soon everyone will.

Like a lot of kids, Ramon Hervey II grew up with celebrities’ names on the periphery of his attention, but it wasn’t until he was a young man working as a Pan Am flight attendant that he had his first real brushes with fame. Before he switched careers to work in the music industry, he served Peter Jennings, actress Shirley McLaine and Miles Davis in-flight. Later, at Motown Records, he met Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross. When he went into public relations at Rogers & Cowan, “one of the premier entertainment public relations companies in the industry,” he worked with superstars like Babyface and Peter Frampton.

You’d think that with all those stars circling his life, Hervey’d know a thing or two about fame. And he does: He knows how you can catch it, or at least enter its orbit.

Comedian Richard Pryor, who was a challenge, taught Hervey that “a path of self-destruction can sabotage fame.” Ever-gracious Bette Midler taught him why authenticity is important and fame should never “define your self-worth.” Hervey didn’t trust Little Richard, who refused to let the public “dictate” his fame.

The Bee Gees showed him that fame can be repeatedly gained and lost. From Quincy Jones, he learned that superstardom can be harder to manage than mere fame (and Jones did it gracefully). Rick James taught Hervey about being “obsessed” with the wrong thing. Andraé Crouch taught him to dream, and to be honest about “self-inflicted setbacks.” Hervey showed Don Cornelius how much Cornelius needed the media’s help to be famous. And a Miss America’s “mistake” helped Hervey to find the love of his life…

Sometimes, you have to shake your head until it rattles at the way your favorite celebrity acts like a fool. Still, you almost can’t get enough of that knuckleheadedness, and “The Fame Game” gives you even more.

And yet, author Ramon Hervey II doesn’t dish just for the sake of telling. You won’t read about silly scandals inside this book, no sleep-around tell-alls or party-all-night tales. Instead, each chapter, which is built around one or more stars, offers a hint on how you can stay grounded if you’re looking at (or for!) fame yourself. Chapter headers lead readers into the tip, and Hervey uses his time with the famous to illustrate his reasoning.

And there’s where readers will smile: Hervey doesn’t unnecessarily put himself on the stage here, and there’s no gratuitous name-dropping. He acts heroically sometimes for his clients, but he’s not the hero of the story, which allows his points to shine forth. And those tips make “The Fame Game” a winner, no matter who you are.

c.2022, Amistad


333 pages

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