Ever wonder what it’s like to be famous? Of course you have. But would you sacrifice everything for the notoriety and fortune, or be content to avoid the baggage and stare from afar? Entertainment shows, magazines, websites, and other channels continuously report the latest sightings, heartbreaks, and triumphs of the famous to a seemingly insatiable public. Millions of people go to enormous lengths to achieve fame.

And yet, is fame even real? Contrary to tangible realities, fame is one of those “realities” that we, as a society, have made. Why is that, and what is it about fame that drives us to spend so much time, money, and focus to create the framework that maintains its health?

Now for those on the sidelines craving a peek into the good, bad and ugly comes Fame: The Hijacking of Reality (Akashic Books), a passionate, raw and critical analysis of the life cycle of fame by Justine Bateman, a film producer/director and TV star perhaps best known for her role as Mallory, a teenager in the 1980s sitcom Family Ties.

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Mining decades of experience, Bateman, in this debut book, takes a visceral, intimate look at the phenomenon, combining the internal reality-shift of the famous, theories on the public’s behaviors at each stage of a famous person’s career, and the experiences of other famous performers. Bateman takes the reader inside and outside the emotions of fame.

“Three things that will sharply change the emotional temperature of a room are an earthquake, the appearance of a wild animal, and the entrance of a famous person,” says Bateman.

“What was that magical cloud that used to hover over me, that used to make people look at me with dewy eyes, that used to make them forget their gruffness, their posturing, their responsibilities even? What was that stuff?”

Bateman, now in her 50s, writes, “I started this book because I was thinking about how fame is a mercurial, ephemeral energy, this thing, this smoke, this cloud. This thing that will make everyone in a restaurant stop being themselves, sit differently in their chairs for the whole time the celebrity stays in the room there. Talk differently now to their friend or business associate across the table: “I cannot stop thinking about the fact that so-and-so is sitting right over there.”

The book, she says, “is everything I can remember about being very famous, not so famous, and almost not-famous. It’s about all the theories I’ve drawn about fame. It’s also about society. Why we do the things we do when we’re face to face with fame.”

She continues, “The result is both a purging and an examination of my feelings about my own fame, as well as a crystallization of my observations of human behavior in this regard. The writing was very fluid but also very uncomfortable at times, which is always an indicator in my life that I’m digging in exactly the right spot.”

Bateman writes, “Fame. This thing that came upon me. I didn’t have it and then it was on me. I was without it, nowhere near it, not cultivating it, not looking for it, knew no one who had it, just unfamiliar with it, and then it was on me, enveloping me, encasing me in a sheath that I could look out of and see the world as I knew it before the fame happened, but a sheath that now obscured anyone’s vision of me.”

Says actor Michael J. Fox, who starred in Family Ties, “Justine Bateman was famous before selfies replaced autographs and bags of fan mails gave way to Twitter shitstorms. And…she took notes along the way. Justine steps through the looking glass of her own celebrity, shatters it, and pieces together, beyond the shards and splinters, a reflection of her true self.”

Fame: The Hijacking of Reality is now available to purchase.


Justine Bateman has an impressive résumé that includes TV shows Family Ties, Satisfaction, Arrested Development, and many more. As an actress, she has been nominated for a Golden Globe and two Emmy awards. An advocate for net neutrality, Bateman holds a degree from UCLA in computer science and digital media management. Her film-producing credits include Easy to Assemble with Illeana Douglas and Jared Drake’s Z. Bateman wrote her directorial film short debut, Five Minutes, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival, and her follow-up film short is the drama Push. She is currently in preproduction for her directorial feature film debut of her own script, Violet. Her writing has been published by DAME, Salon, and McSweeney’s. Fame is her first book.