DONALD TRUMP, who as far as I know is a lovely man and a gentle soul, is getting a star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame. I’m not sure exactly where — maybe in front of the Frolic Room? Gracing the Nails by Yuki? Marking the entrance to a “Free Personality Test”? But one thing is certain: He paid top dollar for it, wherever it is.
Trump does not do things halfway. I’m not exactly sure how these things are negotiated, but it’s fair to assume that Trump did not hesitate to lay out for the most luxurious, most exclusive star on the Boulevard in the best location — is there a better, more tenacious negotiator alive? Not for him the shabby, scuffed five points of a Mae Busch or a Cantinflas. Jamie Farr and Stu Erwin, say, may be the type to shrug and mumble, “In front of an adult novelty shop? Sure. Whatever. No biggie.” But the name Trump is synonymous with a certain style and pizazz.
I can hear him saying, as the deal points were being hammered out, “Do not approach me or the Trump Organization with any location less than 1,000% superb.” And you know what? I’ll bet they didn’t. With Trump’s purchase of a star of his own, he has taken it to, in his words, a whole ‘nother level.
Stars on Hollywood Boulevard are bought. You knew that, right? Oh, maybe a few years ago, back when Dorothy Kirsten and Otto Kruger were touched by the grace of The Walk, it was a strictly “Let’s honor so-and-so for their contribution to blah-blah-blah.” But these days, with the pavement cluttered and choked with stars for, among others, Heinie Conklin, Iron Eyes Cody, Godzilla and Rick Dees, it’s become a “how much you got?” type deal.
Luckily, the answer to that question is “lots.” And luckier still, Trump’s expenditure coincides with the sixth season of his hit TV show, “The Apprentice,” which just happens to be based in Los Angeles this time. Though the show is not quite the ratings juggernaut of a few years ago, it is still popular enough to merit his place on Hollywood Boulevard, among your Sigmund Lubins and your KC and the Sunshine Bands.
What Trump understands, of course, is real estate. And in real estate, the rule is, location, location, location. (For me, the rule is, “Do I qualify for the interest-only 40-year balloon?” But that’s what makes Trump Trump and me me.) And his new, permanent location, nestled in concrete, drenched in the glamour of Hollywood Boulevard somewhere between La Brea and Gower, keeping company with Helen Traubel, Mark and Brian and Creighton Hale, is a thing beyond real estate, beyond reality television, beyond the concept of luxurious hotel-style apartment living itself. All for $15,000, I think, to the Hollywood Historic Trust, and a promise to show up for the ceremony.
Where Trump walks, others follow. He won’t be the only canny operator to recognize the bottom-line benefits of owning a square of the Walk of Fame. Trump isn’t a man — he’s a symbol, he’s an icon, he’s a brand when you get right down to it. That’s what he’s selling, on his television shows, in his magnificent real estate properties, in his dynamic appearances at the Learning Annex.
The Trump brand embodies a glittery, golden world of ultra-premium class in the way that — just to pick a name out of the air — Quizno’s represents delicious toasted sandwiches. Or the way Jiffy Lube projects the effortless, fast-oil-change lifestyle. Is Quizno’s a “star” in the way that Flora Finch or Bill Burrud are? It depends on how hungry you are. So why not a star for Quizno’s, Jiffy Lube, Pepsi Light and Cool Ranch Doritos? Why should the Walk of Fame be restricted to Victor Schertzinger and Licia Albanese? Why Sessue Hayakawa but not Accenture?
Even now, one of Trump’s Walk of Fame neighbors is the Los Angeles Times, which suggests that for all the belt-tightening and staff layoffs, Tribune Co. has its priorities firmly in place. It’s odd to think of a newspaper as being a “star,” but I guess The Times is a star, in a “Sunset Boulevard"-ish kind of way. Corporate higher-ups were clearly aware, when processing their Walk of Fame invoice, that a presence on the boulevard is a priceless public-relations gem. Look what it did for Carleton Young.
When he receives his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Trump will no doubt look up and down the sparkling Boulevard with satisfaction. He, like Agnes Ayers, Wendell Niles and Ryan Seacrest, has made it. But he also will be bringing some pixie dust of his own to the famed Boulevard. He will be touching it with the Trump brand. And he will be opening up another profit center for the Hollywood Historic Trust.
And also: Rosie O’Donnell doesn’t have one yet.