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The Truth About Hollywood's Walk of Fame

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    Plans that allow advertisers prime spots near the Hollywood Walk of Fame help to pay for maintenance costs. Jenna Susko investigates for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on May 16, 2016. (Published Tuesday, May 17, 2016)

    It's stone in a sidewalk known around the world, but behind the scenes it's about cash, movie release dates and advertisements.

    Many fans believe a star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame is the result of talent, hard work and dedication to the arts.

    Between 20 and 30 celebrities claim their section of fame every year, and while a committee chooses recipients from hundreds of applications each year, the stars aren't gifted. They are bought for $30,000 each.

    Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein received their stars last month right in front of the Pantages Theater, where their musical "Kinky Boots" premiered just days later.

    Kinky Boots Productions paid for the stars.

    According to the Chamber of Commerce, actress Jodie Foster's star was paid for by Sony Pictures. Twentieth Century Fox bought director Ridley Scott's space and Paramount Pictures paid for Steve Carell's.

    Half of the $30,000 fee pays for the ceremony and the other half goes toward maintenance and repairs, such as if the stars are defaced -- like the recent vandalism of Donald Trump's star -- or when they're just plain old.

    Leron Gubler is president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which heads up the Walk of Fame.

    "The Walk of Fame was created to generate publicity," Gubler said.

    It is, after all, Hollywood.

    According to city spending records acquired by the I-Team, some funding for improvements has come from LA tax dollars, but to generate the millions more needed, stars were also sold to advertisers.

    Ever heard of an Award of Excellence? Victoria's Secret Angels, Variety and even Disneyland have one. The ads look just like the real stars and were placed just steps from the real thing.

    "We don't do those anymore," Gubler said. "We think it was disruptive of the tourist experience ... which is why we discontinued those."

    But a new advertising program followed called "Friends of the Walk of Fame." Absolut Vodka is a "friend," so is L'Oreal.

    For six figures, the companies bought spots just steps away, with mini stars.

    Lucid Brands founder Scott Lerman thinks the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is practically giving stars away.

    "The ability to have that kind of exposure put into literally the fabric of the sidewalk... (It) seems to be cheap to be selling your soul for," he said.

    Gruber, though, said he and the Chamber feel the amount is right.

    "Well, obviously we wouldn't put them there unless there is a substantial contribution. We would love to have more," he said.

    The Hollywood Historic Trust, which oversees the repairs on the Walk of Fame, tells the I-Team that if there's a better way to raise funds, they have yet to find it.

    As for your favorite celebrities who have passed away but don't have a star, there's a five year waiting period, but those honors are rare, Gruber said.

    "We don't do too many posthumous ones because, frankly, we don't get the same amount of publicity," he said.

    Learn more about the Walk of Fame:

     

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