Just a heads up, we might say, a few four letter words during this episode, because, you know, it's fun. It's 2:00 in the morning on a late summer night in 2000. It's a quiet residential road just north of Sunset Boulevard. Nineteen year old Paris is standing in front of an imposing wrought iron gate. It guards a 2.5 acre estate in Holmby Hills, which happens to be in the same neighborhood as the Playboy Mansion.
And it's where Kylie Jenner just bought a house for thirty six point five million dollars.
Correct. Which means whatever is on the other side is probably pretty nice. Paris grabs onto the gate and gives it a shake.
It's locked. She knows what she has to do. It's been a year and a half since she left Utah behind. And now it's time to get to work on the promise she made to herself. She's going to be so big, no one will ever be able to control her again. The gate squeaks loudly as she starts to climb. When she reaches the top, she looks down. It's a big jump. If she lands wrong, she could break a leg or hell.
It'll be worth it, though.
OK, and why is an heiress breaking and entering? Well, is it considered a crime if it's your family's house? Because this house actually belongs to her grandparents, Baron and Marilyn Hilton. And right now they're vacationing in St. Barts or the Swiss Alps or one of those other places rich people go. When Paris brushes herself off, she opens the big iron gates and motions to a pickup truck. It rumbles up the driveway to a circular motor court that easily fits more than a dozen cars.
The truck stops in front of a white brick, two storey colonial style mansion. A man gets out. He's in his 30s, handsome and dark, and wears a blue knit cap. It's photographer David LaChapelle Paris court David's eye one night as she danced on a table in a crowded nightclub.
He was so struck by the way she lit up a room that he knew that he had to take our picture. And now here she is about to break into her grandparents estate. Technically, actually, I think she's already broken in. True.
But now they're breaking into the house. The bolt clicks open as Paris turns the key and then hit the alarm.
David puts his hands over his ears and frowns.
But Paris just laughs as she punches the keypad with her pink nails in the silence that follows, David LUGs in his camera equipment and takes a look around. It takes him a while. There are 13 bedrooms and seventeen bathrooms, every one of them decorated with fancy furnishings. You get it. Rich people, furniture stores. He wanders into a cavernous living room filled with antiques. Paris tells him it's the room where they celebrate Christmas. David nods. This is it.
It's the perfect spot to have Paris pose. Every inch of it, says all the money and every inch of Paris does not.
Not today, anyway. Her blonde hair is messy and loose like a rock star. And she wears a super, super, super short pink satin skirt and matching pink fingerless gloves on her hands, even her pink lipstick matches. But it's the black See-Through fishnet tank top that's the most shocking. It leaves nothing to the imagination. Nothing. Well, this is a podcast and all we have is our imaginations.
So thank you so much for painting a picture.
Paris poses. David shoots, pose, click, pose, click, and then he stops something.
Is it right? Where is the essence of Paris? That woman with the attitude he saw dancing in the club, but he's not giving up.
He takes his hand off the shutter and flips her the bird.
Fuck you, Paris blinks. Is he serious? Yeah, she has a lot riding on this photo shoot, but who does he think he is flipping her off?
Paris sticks out her middle finger in front of her face. Fuck you.
And boom, that's the one in that moment. And iconic images captured on film, one that will define the Paris persona as a rich bitch with attitude for days and image that will help bring her freedom and fame. But when neither she nor LaChapelle knows at this moment is that Paris's image will also become a prison sentence, one that will last twenty years.
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She's going to be famous and be in charge of her own life from now on. If only it was that simple.
Yeah, it's not. This is episode two, the not so simple Life Shack.
OK, let's back up a year to February 1999 when Paris turns 18. She's now an adult in the Provo Canyon School, has no choice except to release her when she boards a plane back to New York City. She doesn't look back. Literally, she doesn't tell anyone about what happened when she gets home. Not her friends, not her parents, not even her sister, Nikki. She just stuffs it down, lock the door and throws away the key.
But something inside of her has changed. She's riddled with anxiety and insomnia. Most nights she wakes up in the middle of the night covered in sweat. Yeah, of course she does. She's traumatized extremely. And that trauma is making it hard for her to keep it together. But Paris made a promise to herself. Once she plans to keep, she's going to be famous. OK, so, Brooke, imagine your Paris Hilton. You've just escaped the worst experience of your life and now you're going to make sure no one can control you ever again.
But how do you get famous if you aren't an actor or singer or serial killer when all you have is your famous last name? Now, remember, this is before any social media. So what would you do? This is a lot of rhetorical questions, Orisha. OK, well, clock is ticking.
OK, I got it. It would scale the MTV building topless during a taping of Total Request Live. Well, that's not her plan.
Paris is going to start small. Well, kind of small. She's going to conquer the city.
She lives in New York, but in a city of eight million people. How do you do that? Let's break it down. To get noticed, you have to stand out. So Paris decides to create her own style sort of designer couture meets Frederick's of Hollywood picture, a leopard jumpsuit cut down to her belly button with a crystal choker that looks like a cat collar. That's one of the outfits she wore back then, bringing Halloween to every day leather.
Her end goal is to be noticed, right. So she takes her hat, look to the coolest clubs in the city and welcomes every chance to be photographed. There's this one I love where she's wearing this tiny sparkly lilac dress. It's super low paid. And she has this cute pixie hairstyle. She's dancing. Her head is thrown back, eyes closed. I mean, she had to have known someone was taking this picture, but her face is like, go ahead and judge, I don't give a shit what you think.
I'm fabulous. Hell, yes.
I mean, it's hard to go wrong with an outfit if you're Paris. The girl looks good in everything. Even when she's wearing a tracksuit, she manages to bling it out with some rhinestones and big sunglasses. Oh, and you know her blue eyes. Yeah, fake. They're not really blue. Wait, what? No, she puts blue contacts over her naturally brown eyes. And then there's her voice. The infamous baby voice. Yep, not real either.
She used to do the voice with her dad when she wanted something. It worked so well. So she probably figures what the hell? Maybe it'll get me what I want now too. And it does.
The press loves her baby voice. It fits with the whole package. It's like part of her official public persona. No one knows if she's for real. I mean, as she I don't know, maybe. But in some ways I think she's just coping. You know, she's 19 years old and following in the footsteps of her mom and her grandmother. And I'm sure she's trying to build some walls between her and Utah. But I also think she's smart as hell.
She's controlling this image, not anyone else. Paris likes being the center of attention. She demands it. She claims that she dances on tables because she doesn't like sweat. But it seems more like it's a way of saying, hey, look at me. And the whole thing is starting to work. Photographers are intrigued. They find her much more interesting than the average rich kid clubbing who hides in the shadows with bottle service. Yeah, they're not wrong.
But being seen in clubs is just one piece of making the Paris brand. She makes a splash in the fashion world, too. She walks in shows for designers like Anne Boleyn and Leatherette, and she appears in magazine spreads.
The New Yorker calls her a mini IT girl. There's just one minor problem. Her new image is sexy and desirable, but it's also ditzy. The new Paris is a walking, dumb blonde joke. And the more sexy and ditzy and entitled she seems, the more likely page six is to print it. I mean, I get it. Who'd want to read about Paris, his opinions on Tolstoy's War and Peace? I mean, I kind of would.
Yeah, actually, that would be interesting.
But back at two thousand reporting on Paris running topless around the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, sells more papers. Paris figures out what the press wants and gives it to them the outrageous clothes, the scandalous behavior and the blonde airhead persona. On October 15th, 2000, The New York Post Page six runs an expose featuring a photo of Paris and some of her trust fund friends with famous last names in the picture. They're dancing on top of a table.
The headline reads Debutants. They Ain't Broke. Do you want to read it? Hell yeah. Queen, let me just put on my inUS voice really quick, OK?
They're young and sinfully gorgeous with multimillion dollar trust funds and their families are household names, but their pension for night crawling some of them in micro fishnet. Hops and four inch stiletto heels is upsetting their blue blooded elders who think they're picking up a trashy reputation, meet the daring heiresses of New York's social scene. The most outrageous is Hotel Darling Paris Hilton, 19, a part time model with a tendency to flash her thong. Gone are the days of debutantes and coming out parties when young heiresses would meet for stuffy afternoon meals of the Four Seasons to discuss fashion, philanthropy and their trust funds.
Today, their social vixens who swap prim and proper personas for attitude without caring that the media is chronicling every intimate and often embarrassing moment. First of all, I nailed that second.
It looks like her plan to take over New York is working. First of all, Julianna Rancic, when did you join even the rich? Second, it is the city is hers, but Paris wants to be more than a blurb on page six. She wants to take this act to a bigger stage, one where she'll be featured in national magazines, get into elite parties and make millions. She may come for money, but she wants to make her own.
That's when she gets the call that will change her life. Remember those pictures she took with David LaChapelle? Fuck you. That's the one a couple of weeks after she breaks into her grandparents house. David calls to give her the good news. He sold the pictures to Vanity Fair. Photos of her and her sister are going to run in the September 2000 issue. Vanity Fair. The time is about as in as it gets. Every famous celebrity seems to land on the cover at some point in their career.
Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, this is the chance she's been looking forward to launch her into the stratosphere.
It's the end of the summer of 2000, Paris nervously sips iced tea. She's at her family's summer home in Southampton, waiting for a visitor. The guard at the gate house brings up Nancy Jo Sales this year letter through Paris calls back.
Nancy Jo is one of Vanity Fair's most prolific feature writers, and she's here to write the story that will go with the photos David took. There's only one problem. Her mother, Kathy, is here and she's got a very different idea about the image Paris should portray. She wants the world to see her daughter as an old school heiress. Apparently, she even made Paris take etiquette lessons when she was younger. Oh, my God. We should take an etiquette class for a future episode.
My God, yes. Anyway, protecting the Hilton's reputation and name is Kathy's primary job. And she's not about to let Paris unleash the page six version to the world. She's already tried to shut the photos down, but no luck. They're the best she can do now is try to control the article, which is why Paris is worried. She knows no one wants to read about old money or old fashioned anything. They want something new. She's also smart enough to know that her mom's worries aren't totally unfounded.
David's photos might just make her look like a spoiled heiress, but she has her own wish list for this interview. She wants to make sure Nancy Jo knows that she's building a career, too. Nancy sits down to lunch before anyone can find the right fork. Nancy jumps right in. Is it true that Paris went to the MoMA Club in the city wearing fishnet stockings, a See-Through camisole in a thong? Page six says she did. Cathy shakes her head.
Absolutely not. Paris is the most modest girl. OK, how did little Cathy not make it as an actress?
I mean, maybe she still will. Cathy tells Nancy Jo that Paris is a quiet girl who doesn't like the spotlight. Paris doesn't contradict her. It's not true. But she loves her mom. She goes along with it. But she also make sure to tell Nancy how hard she's been working on her career. I imagine she's even dropped her baby voice when she says to Nancy, people think I'm just this party girl. Well, I'm not like that.
I don't just go to parties. I wake up in the morning and go to auditions. Nancy's like, right, you have a movie coming out soon. Oh, are we a party in the nodi now?
I still know this is an indie thriller called Sweetie Pie. It's about a group of wealthy kids in Southern California who get too much too soon. And Paris nabbed the title role. Oh, OK. But our character is killed off in the opening scene.
Oh, OK. But it's her first real movie gig. It could be a tiny step forward on the road to stardom. And Paris is hoping this Vanity Fair article will help.
But when Nancy talks to Paris's friends, the picture they paint isn't of a serious career gal on the rise. One says Paris goes out every night jumping on tables, looking for attention.
Another one says it's like all she wants to do is become famous to wipe out the past, to become somebody else, while, as it turns out, they were right.
Yeah, but it'll be years before anyone knows that. But Paris doesn't know anything about these comments. Not yet. She's just excited for the magazine to come out. And when it arrives, she's thrilled. Six glossy pages are dedicated to her and her sister, including the iconic picture of Paris flipping David off and she looks good.
Then she reads the article. It paints her as a spoiled, reckless, rich girl without a care in the world. Let me read an excerpt.
A friend describes how Paris behaves when she enters a hotel belonging to the family, which includes the Waldorf Astoria. She'll like roll up to the Waldorf, like snap, snap to the desk.
You give me a key with that glare in her eye like she's jigaboo or something, grabs a key out of their hand, like tell them to set up room service.
Right now, I wonder what she ordered. Paris's parents are not happy. This isn't what Kathy told the reporter at all. And Rick, well, he's a private person. And here's his daughter in skimpy clothes flipping off the world. And Paris's grandparents, Baron and Marilyn, are even more disappointed. The photos were taken inside their house, for God sakes, for what it's worth, paresis. Other grandmother, Big Cathy, is thrilled to her. No press is bad press.
All she sees is her granddaughter in Vanity Fair. She's on her way to stardom. Paris starts to see it that way, too. So Nancy didn't publish much about her career, but at least she's in a national magazine now. She just needs to sit back and wait for the world to take notice. But then nothing really changes. Nothing. Well, the article does give her more juice in New York.
Page six writes about her nine times by the year 2000 and 17 times in 2001. And she gets better seats at New York Fashion Week. But New York isn't the world. But then she gets an offer, a part and a Ben Stiller movie, Zoolander. Except she's playing herself. Or is she playing a persona she created?
Yeah, it's like Super Medda. Paris is playing a role in her public life and is then hired to play herself in a movie. But technically, playing herself is actually playing a role. She'll later say that she has trouble differentiating them because her character has become such a part of her. She even uses it in her dating life. Whenever a boyfriend got mad at her, she'd go into her baby voice. Some say, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to then they just forgive her.
Damn it, I've been too sarcastic my whole life. I would never get away with that. So who was she dating? Well, there's a rumor she hooks up with Leonardo DiCaprio, though. She denies it. Well, that is a crazy coincidence. I dated him, but once I hit twenty seven, he tried to put me in a nursing home.
Didn't work out. Oh, right. That definitely checks out. Next, she dates a bad boy, Edward Furlong, the kid from Terminator two and American History X.. But the relationship fizzles out after only eight months when Edward goes to rehab.
But then Paris meets a guy who will steal her heart and then stomp all over it. It's June 2001, Paris is inside a hotel bathroom, twirling her blond hair up into two little pigtails, she wears a black lace bra, black panties and black Knee-High leggings. Oh, here we go. Yep. In walks Rick Solomon, Paris's boyfriend. And tonight he's wearing a robe and holding a camcorder and he wants to make a movie. We all know what comes next.
Yep. The sex tape of Paris has no idea that's what's going on yet. All she knows is she's in love with this guy. He's a professional poker player and does pretty well. She even introduced him to the family and they liked him, even her mother, Kathy. And we know how protective she is. So Paris feels safe with Rick and she's used to being his muse. She says you're, like, obsessed, always filming me.
But tonight is different. Tonight, he doesn't want to film her putting up her hair. He wants to film the two of them having sex. She's not into it while she likes getting her picture taken when she's out on the town. This is intimate. Private. According to Paris, Rick wouldn't let up. No one will ever see it. He tells her it's just for them.
Paris still isn't interested. Finally, he says, Oh, you're so boring.
Should I just call someone else? And that's when she gives in. She doesn't want to lose him. And when it's over, she forgets all about it.
A few months later, they split and Paris is heartbroken. Rick was her first love and the first person since Provo she really trusted. Now he's gone. The nightmares and bad memories start creeping back in, which could be why she gets Tinkerbelle.
Oh, Tinkerbelle. Dink's, as Paris calls her, is a five pound brown, short haired Chihuahua in Paris, takes her everywhere from shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue to an appearance on Jay Leno Takes Travels. First class inside Paris is amazed that the dog is accessory becomes part of Paris's look and suddenly Chihuahuas take off in popularity. Everyone wants one.
The handbag dog has become a thing. Paris is no longer just the page six heiress. She's started a national trend. Things are looking up.
But then in March, she gets a call that sends her sideways. Big Kathy is gone. Breast cancer. Oh man. Paris is devastated. Her grandmother was her biggest cheerleader, the one person who always believed she'd be famous. But not even a loss like this can slow our girl down. Paris is going to do everything she can to prove her grandmother right. If she's going to break out of New York, she needs to do something new, something big in a place where you can throw a rock and hit someone famous.
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La, la, la, la, la. It's 2002, one of those perfect California days, not a cloud in the sky. Paris is dressed professionally. Her hair pulled back as she drives to Santa Monica. She wipes a sweat away from her palms as she turns into the valet. She's about to head into one of the most important meetings of her life, a meeting with a talent management company, the firm. Wait, is it really called the firm, like the Windsors?
Yep, it is. Wow. Paris hands her keys to the valet and heads inside.
The firm manages A-list actors like Cameron Diaz, Robert DeNiro, Jaylo and hitmakers like Kelly Clarkson, Snoop Dogg and Britney Spears. Paris is hoping they'll take her on as a client, too. She's always wanted to be famous, and she is. But she wants to be famous for more than just being famous, if you know what I mean.
Yeah, like famous for more than having the last name Hilton or for more than dancing on a table at a club. Exactly. She's already an established model and she's gotten a few small parts in movies. Now she wants to take her acting career to the next level and try her hand at singing, too. If she can get the firm to sign her, she'll be right alongside Oscar and Grammy winners.
Then people will have to take her seriously and assistant escorts her to a large conference room for managers and one assistant set at a long table, all of them in suits. She sits at the far end. After the pleasantries, they get down to business. So what movies have you been in? Paris hesitates. Well, I was in an independent film called Sweetie Pie, and they're like, never heard of it. What else? Zoolander. You play yourself in that movie, right?
And Paris is like, yeah, and I was damn good at it.
But then the guy running the meeting stands up and says, well, it was a pleasure to meet you, Paris. So that's that Paris things. But then he says, we'll put a contract together.
They sign her, they sign her. Wow. I wish I had it that easy. True story. I cried when I left my first agent meeting.
I mean, at least you've managed to get a first agent meeting. They still haven't returned my calls. True.
Anyway, Paris walks out feeling like a million bucks, of course, ready for the next chapter of her life. But then time passes and she barely hears from her team at the firm. It's like they don't know what to do with her. She's just famous for being famous, which is kind of a joke. In August 2002, it hits home for Paris when GQ runs a seven page spread spoofing her and her sister Nicky. The parody features the fictional Mariotte sisters.
Mariotte is spelled with one T so as not to be confused with the hotel of the same name. Oh yeah, that's not confusing at all. I mean, it's better than the Howard Johnson sisters. No, it's not. That would be funnier anyway.
Their names are Frenchie and Dallas. They're spoiled party girls who shop and use fake IDs to get into chic clubs in New York City. Their best friends are potato chip heiress Chloe Uds, hygene queen Iv. Masingill, Jen Dunkin of Dunkin Donuts fame, and Gwen Tylenol, who curiously isn't the daughter of anyone famous. Oh, my God, that's amazing. Totally. But Paris is mortified. I mean, how will she ever be taken seriously with this thing out there?
But then her phone rings, she looks at her caller ID.
It's the firm.
It's the assistant who took notes in her signing meeting. His name is Jason Moore, and he's about the same age as Paris. He's fresh out of film school and he's hungry just like her. He tells her the GQ article shows how fascinated people are by her. He says he sees her potential as a brand. Paris is like, yes, that's what I've been trying to do for the last three years. Jason tells her he wants to take the team lead of the firm.
She'll be his first real client and he'll be the first real professional in Hollywood to actually believe in her. Jason's already lined up a meeting at Fox. He tells her it's a new idea for a show. Just go in with an open mind. Paris is like hell. Yeah, I'm Miss Open Mind.
As she drives over to Century City, she passes billboards promoting Survivor on CBS and Fear Factor on NBC. It's twenty two. Reality television is just starting to take off. OK, can I just say here, people thought it would be a passing fad and Survivor is now on its fortieth season.
I know it's insane. Yeah. So Paris enters a Fox TV lot and sits down with a senior vice president of casting, Sharon Klein. Sharon is used to meeting with actors, but when she talks with Paris, she's different.
Sharon says Paris is her own reality and not embarrassed to talk about it.
Sharon thinks she's perfect for this new show. It isn't quite scripted, but it isn't quite reality either. The simple life Paris listens as Sharon pitches it. As Legally Blonde meets Greenacres. Basically, a ditzy city girl moves to a farm and learns to milk cows, shovel shit and bale hay fish out of water scenario. Except for real. No cell phones, no credit cards, no fancy cars. Paris just nods. All she hears is she's getting her own show on Fox national television.
She's like, when do we start? But there's a twist. They need to find a co-star. They won't greenlight. A show, if she's the only one, so Sharon leans in, you happen to know anyone? Why do I feel like they planned this all along? Get Paris to cast the talent? Because how else could they get another rich person to make a fool of himself?
Seriously? Paris says, how about my sister Niki, the boxer like hell. Yeah.
What a great idea. Who wouldn't want to watch the Hilton sisters step in cow manure? But it turns out Nicky doesn't want to ruin her luchadores.
Yeah, I don't blame her.
The cheapest ones are over five hundred dollars. But now Paris really wants this thing. So she tries to convince Fox to do the show with just her. The studio is like, nah, not as funny.
I picture Paris scrolling through her contacts, trying to figure out which of her friends would be willing to give up sushi at Nobu for baloney sandwiches at home. What about Kimberly Stewart, Rod Stewart's daughter? She's got nothing going on. I'll be Paris, OK? I love a good role play. Hey, Paris Hachim.
Want to move to a farm with me? Oh my God, I'm so sorry. I think you have the wrong number.
Ms. Girls, girls, girl. Maybe Casey Johnson, the Band-Aid heiress. Hey, Paris. Hey, Casey. Want me to farm with me. Oh my God.
I'm busy forever. I'm so sorry.
By flying squirrel. Squirrel. Squirrel.
Oh, I know. Hey, Paris. Hey. Nicole Richie, famous daughter of singer Lionel Richie. Wanna move to a farm with me. Hmm.
Maybe Paris is like please say yes, you're my best friend and the only one I can picture doing this with me. She just asked three other people. Yeah, but I mean, if I was Paris, I would admit that I have no idea what she actually said. But I do know that Paris and Nicole have been close friends since their diaper days and now Nicole is willing to follow her BFA from Bel Air to the barn.
Paris is ecstatic. She's about to have her own show while her own show with Nicole Richie. Now, Paris just needs to make sure the show is actually good and that it's funny. She's going to give one hundred percent.
It's May 2nd, 2003, and Paris is headed to the airport. Cameras are documenting her every move. She's dressed in head to toe couture. Her skin tight Dior dress matches her Dior luggage. Nicole is there to dress down in a colorful floral shift toting a slew of Louis Vuitton luggage. They bought a private jet and make themselves comfortable. Tinkerbell is even there. She's wearing a purple dress with a pink feathery collar, and she prances around while a stewardess hands out moist towels.
Oh, that's cute. Paris isn't sure exactly where they're going, but this will be their last taste of their rich life for a while, as the jet makes its descent, she looks out the window, but all she can see is farmland and grass. For miles, she nudges Nicole. There's like one house every fifty miles. When they land, they throw their fancy bags and an old blue pickup truck and head into the Ozarks towards the tiny town of Altus, Arkansas, population eight hundred and seventeen.
They move in with a loving family. Listen to this clip. They're bored and trying to figure out what to do.
Oh, I've always heard that playing out at Wal-Mart. Why? I don't what? It's like they sell stuff. No. What does it look like?
Oh, my God. I loved this show. They're funny. I know, right? Paris totally gets the comedy of the situation, the letting family think she's hilarious. So do the producers. But Paris is the one who's really laughing because she's playing a character that she created and perfected. Even the show's producers can't tell if it's an act. Yeah, I seriously thought that's who she was. Who for the longest time. It'll be years before she goes public and tells the truth.
But right now she's making a TV show. They shoot for twenty nine days and when it's done, she boards a private jet home and resumes her fabulous life.
I imagine she calls her manager Jason maybe the to go out to a dark piano bar in L.A. and order Grey Goose Martinis. How was it, Jason? Her fun, she says. But her voice says something different after a beat, she tells him the truth is, she's a little worried. She put herself out there. What if no one watches or worse? What if no one thinks it's funny? What if everyone hates her? Jason shakes his head.
Don't worry. Not only are people going to love you, they're going to want to be you. It's smooth sailing from here and it is for a minute. She goes to clubs, poses for pictures, does some interviews and press, and basically counts down the days to the premiere.
And then a few weeks before the pilot episode is set to air, she's on a flight home from Australia. When she hears that a tape is out there, one starring her. Oh, God. I've honestly been trying to forget about that. Yeah, it's that tape from two years ago. From that night, Rick Solomon convinced her to have sex while he filmed it. And now there's a 30 second trailer on the Internet somewhere. And there's no way to get that baby back.
Nope. By the time she's back on the ground and on the phone with her manager, pretty much everyone has seen it or they will because the tabloids have it. And as we know, the tabloids love Paris Hilton, especially if it's a story about her involving a scandal. And this is about as scandalous as it gets, but to Paris, this isn't a front page story. This is her life. Once she carefully built brick by brick to make sure she was the one in control of her destiny.
And now in this one moment, everything she worked for is crashing down around her. We get support from Book of the Month, Book of the Month is a super popular and fast growing online book service for readers, and we are both big, big readers, huge readers.
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La, la, la, la, la. It's mid November 2003, Paris blond hair is a mess. She hasn't washed it in days and she hasn't changed out of her sweats for weeks. So literally all of us in twenty. Twenty. Yep, just like us. Paris is like, what's the point? They've canceled all of her appearances since the sex tape trailer hit the Internet. She doesn't even want to leave the house. She's mortified and feels completely vulnerable.
She feels like the whole world has seen her having sex. So she holds up in her parents New York apartment with nothing to do every day except stew.
And one day she picks up her phone. When Rick picks up, Paris starts right in. How could you do this to me? She calls Rick Solomon. She does who? She has to know why. He tells her it was out of his control. Don took the tape without asking. Paris is like, that's your excuse. Your roommate took it. It later comes out that he once said his friend, something like Paris is going to be big someday and I'm going to film it.
Then just watch what I do with it.
Who says romance is dead?
Paris, understandably, is pissed. He tells her he knows just how she's feeling. He feels betrayed, too, and is suing Don. His own friend stole the tape and sold it. Rick says he hasn't made a dime. Paris's like yet. You haven't made a dime yet. Paris isn't stupid. She's heard that Rick plans and selling a feature length version on his own website. OK, wait, hold on. I'm confused here. So the roommate supposedly steals the tape.
He sells it to a porn company. They release a 30 second trailer. Yep. Rick sues his roommate and stops them from releasing more of the tape. But then Rick still plans to release more footage on his own website. Yep. You're not as confused as you think it's true. And get this, his website is called Beverly Hills Pimps and Hos. Oh, so it's a family friendly site.
Yes. Love it the most. Family friendly.
Rick says he can't just put the tape back in the closet. It's out there. If anyone should make money from it, it should be him.
Man, this guy sucks. Yeah, he's trash. Paris cries. She pleads, Please, Rick, I've been humiliated enough. She begged him not to release it, but nothing she says will change his mind. Paris hangs up. How could she have ever loved him? She feels helpless, violated and completely mortified. It can't get much worse right then. It does.
She's about to hit the national spotlight and not in the way she'd hoped the first time that the words Paris Hilton and job have ever been used in a sentence.
And that's just the start. Every late night talk show host and comedian makes her the butt of their opening monologue. But at least they're laughing. The public is mean. People call her a slut, rich, white trash, no talent, brainless hussy, tramp and skank, to name just a few. God, that would not fly today.
Why are people such assholes? You know, I thought about that because looking back, it seems like Paris haters were particularly hateful. I feel like people love to hate someone who doesn't show vulnerability. And to them, Paris's image is someone who doesn't give a shit. A rich, spoiled heiress. Yeah, but she built that persona to protect herself after Utah. Yeah, I know. That's what makes it even more awful. I mean, you don't know what someone has been through, so don't fucking judge.
I don't know why I'm yelling at people from seventeen years ago, but it's heartbreaking how much this affects Paris at the time. Every snarky headline, every mean comment chips away at her soul. She figures her dreams are over. Her reality show is probably canceled. She may as well call Jason and get it over with. When Jason picks up, she cuts right to the point, I guess the simple life is dead and he says it's not.
It's like free press for the show. Paris is on everyone's gossip hit list and people are going to want to watch what she does next. The show is on and they're going to put it on the prime eat 30 spot right between that 70s Show MEAC. Two of their biggest hits, The Simple Life, premieres on December 2nd as planned. And the pilot episode draws 13 million viewers the week after. The numbers are even higher. People love it and can't get enough of her catchphrase.
Paris is finally famous for something more than her last name. Now she's famous for being herself while the self she created anyway. So you'd think Paris would be celebrating right now. She's not. She's still hiding out. She thought people would tire of the sex tape and turn their attention to the show. They haven't. Now people are more interested than ever. And the paparazzi are swarming the Waldorf where she lives. She doesn't understand how it could have all gone so wrong.
But then Saturday Night Live calls, they want her to do a guest spot on the show, Weekend Update with Jimmy Fallon. At first, Paris is like hell. No, no way am I putting myself out there in front of 30 million people after everything that's happened. But then she reconsiders. Maybe this is an opportunity to flip the narrative, get a piece of herself back. So she agrees. She's on her way to 30 Rock.
Hellyeah It's Saturday, December six, 2003. Paris sits in front of a mirror and dressing room eight at NBC Studios, and she can't shake off her nerves. She's having second thoughts about her appearance on SNL. She feels like everyone is whispering about her behind her back. The guys at the desk who checked her in, the girls from makeup and hair and didn't the grip look at her? Funny, he probably saw the tape focus. Focus. She thinks she can't back out now.
She smoothed down the Diamond Cross around her neck and checks herself in the mirror. She's trying to look professional today. Gray pinstripe suit, long blonde hair swept over her shoulder and a side ponytail.
And then it's go time. Knock em, dead girl.
She walks down the hallway and then she steps onto the stage. She never imagined the studio audience would be so close or that everyone's eyes would be on her. There are four TV cameras. She blinks. I imagine she gives herself some sort of pep talk. You got this. You know how to play to the camera. And then Tina Fey calls the cue.
Oh, Paris Hilton's a name that's on everyone's lips these past few weeks. Here now in an exclusive interview with Jimmy Fallon is Paris Hilton.
When she comes out, she looks completely calm. That ass even you'd never know she was having doubts. It's like the Paris match she worked on for years. The total I don't give a shit of it all is right back on and never came off. Jimmy Fallon sets her up.
Is it hard to get into the Paris Hilton? Actually, it's a very exclusive hotel, no matter what you've heard, the writers, of course, wrote her jokes, but Paris's timing is perfect. The audience is in hysterics and Jimmy Fallon can barely keep it together in this moment. It's like Paris is taking back the narrative. She's in on the joke. And it's a signal to all the haters, including her ex. You can't take me down.
I mean, look, she knows one appearance on SNL isn't going to erase what happened. She will now and forever be associated with that tape. If she's going to salvage her dreams, she'll just have to figure out a way to make this new reality work for her. So back to Hollywood she goes. And the good news is she's got a new movie coming out, a big one when a date with Tad Hamilton. It stars Kate Bosworth, Topher Grace and Josh Demel and Paris sort of oh, I love that movie, but I don't remember Paris.
Well, you're not the only one.
She plays Heather and has two scenes in one. She parachutes out of the sky and lands in a swimming pool. She pops up wearing nothing but a string bikini and super high gold heels. Josh Miles character just stares at her with his mouth open.
Hi, my name's Heather. Of course, it is a great landing. That person's friend, her ankle, definitely a bigger film than sweetie pie, and she has more lines and in Zoolander open up, except she's not.
When the film is released in early January, they cut her part. Rumors, Buzz, that her scenes were deleted because of the sex tape that the studio thought it was best to distance itself from Paris in the scandal. I don't know if that's how it went, but someone probably at least did her the favor of telling her because she doesn't attend any of the premieres. Eventually, her scenes are released on the DVD, but they're relegated to the gag reel and she's still listed on IMDB as uncredited.
Lelouch That's about as bleak as it can get for an actor.
So true. So let's just say Paris has a lot of ups and downs in just a few short months, mostly downs. Yeah, she's definitely feeling the backlash and her dreams of becoming an actress have gotten a lot harder. So is everything else. Here's Paris in her own words in the documentary American Meme.
I literally wanted to die at some point, so I was like, I just don't want to live because I thought everything was taken away from me. Like I didn't want to be known as that. I would never. Wow, yeah, she pretty much hit rock bottom, but our girl is tough when she picks herself up and dusts herself off, she thinks, well, I guess I'll start all over again.
And this time she's going to take a different route.
People are fascinated by her. She's a pop culture phenomenon. By 2004, she's the second most searched person on Google. Britney Spears is the first, by the way. Well, as Britney would say, if you want to be number one, you better work, bitch.
So movie star isn't in the cards, but she can still build a brand, a Paris brand. But how do you do that when most companies think your sex tape means you aren't brand safe or family friendly while Paris decides to simply not give a shit? OK, Brooke, when you think of Paris in the mid 2000s, what do you picture her wearing? Obviously, a pink juicy couture tracksuit, right? She lives in it. Yeah, she wears it everywhere.
Paris says it's my uniform when I'm chilling at home or going to the beach. And as it turns out, the minute Paris puts on the tracksuit, Juicy Couture blows up like big time because the paparazzi is snapping away whatever she does. She's featured a lot in Juicy. And when other celebrities see how good she looks, they start to wear Jersey to Madonna, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian start wearing velour out on the town. Oh, yeah, she totally started the trend.
She's like the Hodgy she is today. She's got an entire closet dedicated to the brand. She says she goes in every single day and just puts on her juice.
I love that she calls it her juicy, juicy caterer goes on to sell for two hundred and twenty six million dollars. I'm pretty sure Paris's unofficial endorsement help. Did Paris get any of that? She did not. She just likes the clothes. She's thrilled for the company because she loves them that much. But it does plant a seed if people are so interested in what she's wearing to the tune of two hundred and twenty six mil. What if next time she gets a piece of that too.
Yeah, business is in her blood. I mean, her great grandfather, Conrad Hilton, started one of the biggest hotel chains in the world. And now it's Paris's turn with Grandpa Conrad on one shoulder and Grandma Kathy on the other. Paris is primed and ready to take over the world. This is episode two of our four part series, Paris Hilton, if you like our show, please give us a five star rating and a nice review. We love nice reviews and be sure to tell your friends we love your friends.
Do subscribe to our show on Apple podcast, Spotify, the Wonder App or wherever you're listening right now. Join hundred plus in the wandering app to listen ad free. In the episode notes, you'll find some links and offers from our sponsors. Please support them by supporting them. You help us offer you this show for free. Another way to support us is to answer a short survey at one dotcom slash survey. We use many sources when researching our stories like Vanity Fair and The New York Post, but we especially recommend The Hiltons by J.
Randy Taraborrelli, House of Hilton, Jerry Oppenheimer and the documentary. This is Paris, directed by Alexandra Dean. I'm a Reesha Skidmore Williams. And I'm Brooke Zafrin. Adam Prince wrote this episode, editing by Alison Rimer. Our producer is Natalie Sheesha. Our associate producer is Kate Young. Our audio engineer is Sergio Enriquez. Sound design is by James Morgan. Our executive producers are Stephanie Gen's marshmallowy and Hernan Lopez for wondering. Or, you know, those days when you hop online and you see posts about productivity, you know, like hashtag hustla hashtag, work hard, play hard and you just immediately feel like you're failing.
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