The Delicate Economics of Being Paid to Show Up

What we feared would happen last year has come to fruition. Celebrities are having a hard time commanding high appearance fees. A-listers still do all right, but everyone else? We're talking in the four-figure range. Depresso-rama!

BizBash reports that not only are Z-listers like Kevin Federline "not likely to command any fee at all" this year, but also that the bigger names have to do more for the company/product/suicide cult that's subsidizing their Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf tabs only to get a lower figure than they would have netted a year ago just for showing up.

But basic appearance fees aside, the trend is toward integrating celebrities into events in ways that involve more than just showing up on the red carpet. When LG launched its new Rumor2 phone, the company looked to Heidi Klum to serve as the product's "ambassador of style," a partnership involving an advertising campaign, online webisodes, and a consumer promotion.

And these celebs will take it! Because if you don't do a movie or TV show or whatever for two years and you've been spending like it's going out of style (it is), then you need these weird, almost-underground jobs to keep yourself in Priuses.

"Because of the recession, I would say fees are down approximately 50 percent," said Lori Levine of talent booking and brokering firm Flying Television, which has offices in New York and Los Angeles. She also noted that the top stars still fetch top dollar. "Couple that with events being down 75 percent, so all in all celebrities are definitely looking twice at events this year that they would have turned down last year."

Though, don't worry. Certain in-demand celebrities are doing just fine. It's just that they might not be exactly who you'd think:

Currently, Zac Efron and Robert Pattinson are among the two hottest commodities on the market, according to people who wrangle celebrities. And, perhaps an anomaly, "Paris Hilton continues to draw six-figure appearance fees," said Rita Tateel, president of the Celebrity Source. Stars of 90210, High School Musical, and Gossip Girl are among the others who can command big bucks.

Anyway, this isn't really any great economic loss for anyone, it's just some fat-trimming that Hollywood has desperately needed to go through for a while now, albeit a bit more drastic than the disappearance of gifting suites or whatever.

Basically, if Boost Mobile offers you $2,000 to get drunk on Level Vodka while RCA Records' newest stable of pop sensations plays on the Bose speakers overhead, you goddamn do it, Selena Gomez.. You do it.

Image of the T-Mobile Sidekick™ LX via Splash