Why did Paris Hilton suddenly become so famous a few years ago while other ditzy fameseekers with no discernible talent—like, say, Tara Reid—fell off the map so quickly? Elizabeth Currid-Halkett breaks it down in her new book.

A professor at USC, Currid-Halkett's new book Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity looks at the cultural and economic factors—and plain old luck—that go into making someone famous. She breaks down how and why some people capture the public's attention but not others. In this excerpt she looks at how PR, media attention, and sex tape shenanigans turned Paris Hilton from a socialite into a star, and how Paris figured out how to hold our attention, while Tara Reid did not.

Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity