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Friday, March 25, 2011

The most expensive speaker in the world

Need a speaker for your special event?

Speaker Wiki -- or so I have learned today -- is "a free speaker directory that has been written collaboratively by thousands of event planners, speakers, and agencies around the world."

In short, it is a place where speakers and their agencies can list for free.

Browsing this easily navigable site is fascinating -- and particularly so for newly published authors, who are touchingly anxious to talk about their books for absolutely nothing, in the hope that the audience will buy them.

Organizers who want a pop musician, a media personality, or an ex-resident of the White House will have to dig deep, by contrast, because some of the fees charged are nothing short of breathtaking.

Phil Collins and Sting top the list, by extracting a cool million bucks from their hosts, and there's not even a guarantee that they will warble a few notes.  Tony Blair will reveal all for $265,000, though for a mere $5,000 more than that, you can hear Rudy GiulianiCondi Rice can add to her wardrobe of shoes with a fee of quarter of a million, while her old boss, GWB himself, will mangle the English language for just $150,000 (his Dad is even humbler, charging $100,000).  If you would rather hear Bill Clinton, you can have him for the night for $175,000, while Al Gore will tell you all about global warming for $215,000.  And Neil Armstrong will tell you what it was like to walk on the moon for $175,000.

My favorite, I must admit, is a man I have never heard of, namely Jimmy Monk, who advertizes himself as "A true gentleman with extensive experience; focused on Productivity with integrity, real results and a contagious smile!"  (Note the capital P.)

But what about the authors?  One has to go quite a long way down the list to find one, but all at once, there he is -- John Grisham, who will talk about his latest bestseller for $225,000.  Next most expensive is a cookbook author, Rachael Ray, who charges $165,000, and hopefully provides a few good recipes.  Tom Clancy will talk about techno-thrillers for a mere fifty thousand bucks, while Patrick Robinson, another author of thrillers set on submarines, charges $40,000.

Oddly enough, I once shared a book event with the last gentleman, and I don't remember that either of us got paid.  What I do remember is Mr. Robinson hunkering down in front of a cute little girl and saying, "Do you like submarines?"

"No, I like sharks," said she disdainfully, and gave him a wide berth as she passed him by.

Obviously, life has improved greatly since then.

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