[In this feature, we periodically checked in to see what is up with Topher Grace.]
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the column “Hey, What’s Up With Topher Grace?”, the Internet’s premiere resource for up-to-the-minute Topher Grace information. It’s funny to look back at that first column, which addressed the important question of who invented wearing a baseball cap pulled slightly lower over the brow first, Topher or Leonardo DiCaprio and realize how many of Topher’s ups and downs we’ve shared over the year (but mostly ups, really!) and yet we are still no closer to solving the mystery of who invented wearing a baseball cap pulled slightly lower over the brow. It is the Sphinx of hat styles! Mysterious and entrancing!
In addition to today marking the one year anniversary of the column “What’s Up With Topher Grace?” today also marks the FINAL column. I think we’re done here. If even I am losing enthusiasm for this, then I believe I have made my point. Last spring, I was actually interviewed about the column for some reason, over email by some dude at some magazine who was writing about Topher Grace. I explained a little bit about where the column came from and what the POINT of it was (or at least what the POINT of it was SUPPOSED to be). But that interview never appeared anywhere, I don’t think. Until now! There is probably no real point in posting this, but it’s a look at how the sausage is blogged, and it can perhaps stand as the final word on what happened over the past year.
Here is that interview:
Q: How was the idea conceived? Was this a planned-out feature or was someone drinking at a bar and said, “You know what we should do…”?
A: When we were having our very first pitch meeting about Videogum, months before it was ever launched, I had said I wanted to do a regular feature where I interviewed the same celebrity every week or two about what was new with them, and the celebrity I had in mind from the very beginning was Topher Grace. It really seemed doable at the time, because all it would have required was five minutes over IM every week or two, which is not a lot of time, even for a famous person. I sent an email to Topher’s management at the time, but no one got back to me. It turns out that people in Hollywood don’t jump at the chance to be interviewed every week over chat for an unlaunched pop culture website for some reason. Anyway, I gave up on the idea, but always wanted to do it, and then I was talking to my friend Max one day, and he was like “you should just do it anyway without his help.” So I did.
Q: Out of all the people you could’ve picked, why him?
A: There’s something entirely benign about Topher Grace. He’s attractive and charming. He’s not so successful as to make the feature nonsensical, but he’s successful enough that it’s not sad either. He’s got stuff going on. People know who he is. No one really loves him or hates him, he’s just a prototypical working celebrity.
Q: How serious/snarky is the intent of the feature? From a reader’s POV, it’s sometimes hard to tell where the line is between sincerity and mockery and was hoping you could clarify.
A: I don’t see the column as being snarky AT ALL, at least as far as Topher Grace is concerned, and I really do my best to keep it from becoming that. I know the line is a fine one, and blurry at that, and it’s not surprising that people would misread it. But there’s nothing really to make fun of about Topher Grace. He’s an actor. He’s in movies. He was in a hugely successful sitcom that remains popular in syndication. What’s the punchline there? However, the column does, obviously, have a bit of a meanstreak to it, which is directed at the modern celebrity-industrial-complex and its obsession with up to the minute Starbucks Updates on anyone who has ever done anything. It also pokes fun at the entire notion of “Where Are They Now” reporting, which is so alienating and dehumanizing. Like, mind your own business! Where are YOU now?
Q: I know you’ve been doing it fairly regularly since last year. How long do you plan to keep it up or just play by ear?
A: There is no end date on it. Unless Topher dies, I guess. Or I get bored.
Q: If you could ask Topher Grace one question, what would it be?
A: If I had one question for Topher it would be “where do you get your ideas?”
So there you go. That’s just sort of where I was at with the whole thing. So, for the final time, we ask “What is up with Topher Grace?” And the answer is: I don’t know. I don’t write this column anymore. Best of luck to Topher Grace and all of the human beings trying to make it in this world.