Eddie Murphy

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

When I saw that the 2008 rate for a speech by Larry Summers was $45,000 to $135,000, I got to thinking.

Out of curiosity, I started prowling the various Web sites of speakers' bureaus and came to six conclusions:

  1. It seems everybody in the world is available for speeches. Included are political and show business stars, second and third bananas, and hundreds upon hundreds of people I never heard of.
  2. All of these people—luminaries and nobodies—get fees from $1,000 to $1 million, plus expenses.
  3. I used to make a lot of speeches, and all I ever got was expenses and a plaque with my name engraved on it.
  4. I was a damned fool. I was as much a nobody as anybody else and could've picked up some dough if I'd just asked.
  5. If someone invites you to make a speech, think about asking for an honorarium at the very least, if not a fat fee, plus expenses. For Colin Powell, expenses include a private jet along with his $100,000 fee.
  6. The worst that can happen is that no money in the budget exists for fees or expenses. If you refuse, someone will replace you.

“Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” —Blanche DuBois, Tennessee Williams’s, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” “Dreamgirls” is boffo. My wife, Peggy, and I saw it in a neighborhood movie house where the audience is often restless, rattles popcorn bags and talks back to the screen. For the entire duration of this film the theater was dead silent. At the end of the Jennifer Hudson love song that devolved into a heart-wrenching soliloquy, we all applauded. The drama within this magical musical is all the more poignant when you discover that Jennifer Hudson was bounced from “American Idol.”

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