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The Class of 2015 Star Honorees – the 30 people selected to receive a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame – includes TV, movie and music personalities as well as one unique selection: Larry Elder, one of just a handful of celebrities in political talk-radio to get his own star.
Of the more than 2,500 people honored with a star, hundreds are from the radio industry, though few who focus on political talk. Rush Limbaugh, who pioneered conservative talk radio in the 1980s doesn’t have a star, nor do Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck or Michael Savage, all of whom have bigger audiences than Elder.
“My first thought was, ‘I am happy and grateful for the appreciation. My second thought was, ‘I hope they didn’t confuse me with Samuel L. Jackson,'” Elder joked in an email to The Hollywood Reporter. “Maybe my induction might induce the committee to recognize the contributions of others in the field.”
So far, the only other political talkers to have a star are Bill Cunningham, the late Dan Avey and the late Ray Briem, three conservatives, along with Bill Handel, a centrist, and no liberal talk-show hosts — Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow or Stephanie Miller, for example — have a star. This despite the fact that Arbitron reported a year ago that “news/talk/info” was the nation’s second most popular radio format among 29 different categories, behind country music and ahead of pop-contemporary music.
The Walk of Fame breaks its inductees into five categories. In the 2015 Class representing movies are: Raymond Chandler (posthumous), Eugenio Derbez, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Garner, Peter Jackson, Bob Kane (posthumous), Daniel Radcliffe, Paul Rudd, Snoopy (the animated character), Melissa McCarthy and Christoph Waltz.
Television is represented by: James L. Brooks, Ken Ehrlich, Bobby Flay, Seth MacFarlane, Julianna Margulies, Chris O’Donnell, Jim Parsons, Amy Poehler, Kelly Ripa and Sofia Vergara.
Recording is represented by: Kukasz ‘Dr. Like Gottwald, Kool & The Gang, Pitbull, Al Schmitt and Pharrell Williams.
Live Theatre/Live Performance is represented by: Kristin Chenoweth, Dick Gregory and Ennio Morricone.
And then there’s Elder, the lone selection from the 2015 Class representing radio. Elder is on AM 790 KABC in Los Angeles, though he used to be syndicated nationally. He has also dabbled in television as the host of Moral Court and has made a documentary film called Michael & Me, a response to Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine.
Through the years, Elder has described himself as “libertarian.” One of his more famous segments was an incredibly hostile interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in 2011. “I’m sorry for cutting you off the way you cut your guests off,” Elder says at one point. “What is this a game? Is this a game show?” an increasingly frustrated Matthews says. Hear the audio below.
The criteria for earning a star on the Walk of Fame – which are made from a combination of brass, terrazzo and marble and are embedded along a wide stretch of Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles — incudes longevity and charitable activities, plus, one has to be nominated to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
Typically there are about 300 nominations annually that are analyzed by a committee of entertainment industry experts. Once the honorees are chosen, they have five years to set a ceremony date for when their star is embedded into the sidewalk and unveiled to the public. Each celebrity must have a “sponsor,” though, who is required to pay $30,000, which goes toward maintenance of the Walk of Fame.
Lately, the number of nominees for radio has been dwindling, says Ana Martinez, the Walk of Fame’s vp of media relations and producer of its ceremonies. This year, Elder was one of just four radio hosts nominated compared with hundreds for TV and film. Ellen K., from KIIS FM in Los Angeles, was recently added as a committee member and is expected to help rectify the situation.
“She’s going to look into radio personalities who are deserving. She won’t nominate any, just suggest names,” Martinez says. “We get very few nominations for radio and I don’t know why that is, but we look forward to getting more.”
Over the years, Martinez says, some honorees in various categories didn’t bother setting a date so they have no stars, as is the case with Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino and the late Whitney Houston. Celebrities can also simply decline a nomination, as was the case with Julia Roberts.
“I hope Julia changes her mind,” says Martinez. “She has kids now. She needs to leave her legacy on our sidewalk.”
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