Forget sports, fantasy leagues for celebrity watchers growing online
NEW YORK -- Widowed by hubby's fantasy sports obsession? Don't get mad, get Kim Kardashian. Or Tom Cruise. Or Kate Middleton.
Fantasy sports leagues are big business online, drawing more than 33 million fans of football to cricket. Now, celeb watchers have a handful of their own websites to draft "teams" and trash talk their friends.
They take on names like "The Lifestyles of the Vain and Narcissistic," "Pop Stars and Posers" and "Snookipocolypse." They hold boozy draft parties, sometimes play for token cash and have stats of their own to pore over.
Angelle Smith, a 31-year-old lawyer in Washington, D.C., drafted a team in the "Celebrity Wonkettes" league at the urging of a friend. The league soon morphed into the "Celebrity Wonks & Wonkettes" when they coaxed a few guys to join.
"She said 'Do you think other people care as much about following celebrities as we do?' I said 'Absolutely,'" Smith recalled. "Within about 10 minutes we had a pretty solid group of people ready to play."
Their site of choice is CelebrityFantasyDraft.com, which offers a database of 2,500 celebs to choose from and sends out weekly point counts in email based on the number and placement of photos in three weekly magazines over a two-month season.
"It's mind candy," said Denise Riley, a Denver lawyer who thought up the site. "You have so much stress in your daily life. It's just something to get your mind off of everything else that you have to do."
Similar celeb-scoring sites are mere aggregators, sucking in famous names from all over the interwebs.
Drool-inducing stats often drive fantasy sports fans. Not so much for some celeb players.
"If one of us had to be responsible for actually calculating that, I don't think it would ever happen," said Lisa Lovett, 31, a college career services worker in Denver.
Among Lovett's current picks: Beyonce, Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, Prince Harry and Suri Cruise. Her team's running fourth, but the season isn't over until the end of July.
Each team owner in Lovett's league antes up $10. Winner takes all, or about $90 once the $20 fee to the site is paid.
In a different league but using the same site, Smith's team includes Bieber, Jason Segel (in a new movie, dating Michelle Williams), Kardashian ex Kris Humphries and Mason Disick, the first offspring of Kourtney Kardashian who just became a big brother -- in season!
"The knowledge people display is amazing," Smith said of her fellow team owners. "People do their homework. No one wants to be last."
Drafting celebs is tricky on Riley's site. Celeb goes to rehab? Deduct 10 points. Arrests are minus 5 and mug shots minus two.
Engagement and pregnancy announcements, on the other hand, are worth an extra three points. Add five for marriage, birth and adoption news.
Riley bases play on People, Us Weekly and InTouch. Covers are the biggest scorers at 10 points. Disses mean deducted points -- three off for losers in Us Weekly's Who Wore it Best section, for instance, and three off for losers of Style Showdown in InTouch.
Strategy is equal parts radar, research and luck.
"Whenever 'The Bachelor' is on, if you can figure out who might be the pick, you're golden," Riley said. Same goes for "The Bachelorette."
TV's Teen Moms, Housewives and American Idols (aspiring or anointed) are usually everywhere, along with the entire Kardashian family. Awards season is awash in nominees, who are always a good bet, and movie promotional tours and premieres are key -- hello Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart with three movies between them to hawk.
Brian Evans, an administrator for a veterinary practice, is in Smith's league of 14 teams, which play for a kitschy, zebra-stripe sash with photos of celebs glued on. He's a fantasy baseball fanatic who isn't quite as rabid when it comes to Hollywood.
Jennifer Anniston, who may or may not be engaged to Justin Theroux, was carrying his team heading into the season's end. He picked Daniel Radcliffe, among others, because he knew who he is.
Evans and the two other guys in the league aren't looking to win. They have a gentleman's bet for best of the boys: "It's a bottle of vodka. Really that's what I'm going for."