Socialite Paris Hilton's podcast with a twist

Paris Hilton (above).
Paris Hilton (above).PHOTO: NYTIMES

Paris Hilton, master of the tabloid-fuelled early aughts, is getting into the podcast business. She is doing so with a new company, her own show and an unusual spin on a form that will seek to create an audio equivalent to social media.

This Is Paris will debut on Feb 22 in partnership with iHeartMedia, the radio giant that has become one of the largest distributors of podcasts, with more than 750 shows collecting more than 250 million downloads a month.

Aimed at Hilton's more than 40 million followers across social media platforms, the show will offer a mix of personal content and conversations with her family, friends and other celebrities.

It will be the flagship of a planned slate of seven shows to be produced by Hilton's company, London Audio, and the iHeartPodcast Network. The other programmes, featuring different hosts, will be released over the next three years.

"I've always been an innovator and first mover when it comes to reality television, social, DJing, and now, I believe that voice and audio is the next frontier," Hilton said in an interview.

A key feature of her podcast will be its use of a format that she is calling "Podposts" - short (between one and three minutes), stripped-down dispatches meant to mimic the cadence and tone of posts on social media.

The This Is Paris podcast feed will host longer (about 45 minutes), more traditionally produced episodes weekly, with intermittent Podposts filling in the gap several times a week.

"I believe that it is like another form of social media," Hilton said. "I do so many things - being a DJ, a businesswoman, a designer and an author - so there will be a lot for me to talk about."

Pre-planned categories of Podposts will be inspired by Hilton's famous catchphrases, including "That's hot" for product recommendations, "Loves it" for culture recommendations and "This is my hotline", in which she will respond to voicemail messages sent in by listeners.

Since the end of The Simple Life (2003 to 2007), her reality television series with Nicole Richie, Hilton, who will turn 40 this month, has branched into a wide range of industries through her company, Paris Hilton Entertainment. Its assets include 45 retail stores and 19 product lines across categories such as fragrance, fashion and accessories.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Hilton was a sought-after DJ around the world, for which she has been paid a reported US$1 million (S$1.3 million) a gig.

After This Is Paris, the rest of the slate is expected to be geared towards subjects including beauty, wellness, dating, philanthropy and technology, with Hilton and Mr Bruce Gersh, president of London Audio, serving as executive producers.

"This is a medium that has so many dimensions and allows you to connect to an audience in a unique way," Mr Gersh said. "Paris wanted to jump in wholeheartedly."

Hilton, who named Bill Gates And Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions and Kate and Oliver Hudson's Sibling Revelry as some of her favourite podcasts, immersed herself in the medium while grounded at home in Los Angeles during the pandemic.

"Usually, I'm travelling 250 days a year and working constantly," she said.

"During this whole year in quarantine, I've had more free time than I've ever had in my career. So, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts and getting interested."

Podcasts have become a favoured outlet for celebrities seeking to engage with fans in more depth than is possible in a typical post on Instagram or Twitter, while avoiding the scrutiny and vulnerability that come with speaking to the press.

Name recognition is a powerful advantage on the platform - shows by celebrity podcasters such as Dax Shepard, Jason Bateman and Anna Faris appear regularly in the Top 50 of the Apple Podcasts charts. This Is Paris shares a name with Hilton's YouTube documentary. In that film, which has nearly 20 million views, she distances herself from the blithe, ditsy persona with which she has been identified since emerging in the glare of paparazzi bulbs two decades ago.

Hilton also says she was abused by administrators at a private boarding school she attended as a teenager, an experience by which she remains traumatised.

The podcast is meant to follow in the same candid vein.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2021, with the headline 'Socialite Paris Hilton's podcast with a twist'. Subscribe