Not so long ago, fame was earned through hard work and talent. Today, many celebrities are created by a 24/7 media hungry for ratings and happy to promote anyone who sells. Here, the former TV producer, journalist and author Rex Richards provides a rare and shocking glimpse of what really goes on behind the cameras. His second novel, The New Prophet, a psychological thriller that satirises the media, is out now.
I’m a journalist as well as an author. I’ve met tons of celebs, from amazing and inspiring people like Arnie Schwarzenegger and the Dalai Lama to others who have done nothing more impressive than have a big bum and a big ego. Some of them are kind and friendly. Many are selfish, mean, aggressive and self-obsessed.
I’ve seen mega-famous celebrity relationships unravel at parties, been seduced by A-list Hollywood stars in night club toilets, offered class A drugs by so-called clean-living rock stars, watched some of the most swooned over Hollywood leading men in the world snog other men, been sexually harassed by a TV newsreader in his flat, and a mega popstar in the back of a taxi. I’ve met world leaders who have given a rousing speech at a press conference about social equality one moment, then privately boasted about how rich they are and how little they care about anyone else the next.
Perhaps worst of all, I’ve worked in a TV newsroom and had the show’s editor refuse to include a heart-warming story that would have cheered up millions of people, because it wasn’t depressing enough for him and nobody was blown up by a bomb in it.
Journalists decide who gets to be famous. If we think someone is a good story, we brush their lack of talent and sometimes criminal behaviour to one side and write the story that we think people want to hear. And we keep their sordid secrets hidden until it suits us too. For example, I know personally that some mainstream media knew about Jimmy Saville as far back as 1991. His terrible behaviour wasn’t revealed until he died, because there was an unwritten contract between the journalists at the time, who decided that his charity work, funny hairdo, TV shows and daft one-liners were a better story for their audiences.
The worlds of celebrity and TV news are so crazy that, once I quit, there was only one thing I could do: write a thriller inspired by it all!
My new book is called The New Prophet. It’s a wild thriller and satire about a serial killer and a jaded, coke-taking TV newsreader who presents ITN News At Ten. It’s equally exciting, scary, saucy and funny all at once. The basic idea is this: what happens when a killer who thinks he is possessed by a living fire contacts a TV newsreader who is about to lose his job?
The answer is of course that everything spins out of control. The New Prophet has got all the elements of a classy thriller, but perhaps the most shocking scenes in the book are where I’ve satirised some of the experiences I had as a journalist.
Just wait until you meet the characters working in the TV newsroom, and see the ludicrous prejudices, obsessions and petty rivalries that drive them. You’ll not believe people like that can exist in the modern world. But they do. Lucky for you though, you won't have to work with them like I had to, you can just read about their ridiculous behaviour in my book, The New Prophet!
The New Prophet by Rex Richards is out now, priced £9.99 in paperback and £2.39 as a Kindle eBook. It is available for sale on Amazon UK.