PEOPLE spoke exclusively with Hollywood Walk of Fame producer Ana Martinez about all the hidden details people don't know about the star-studded ceremony
It takes a lot to make the stars shine on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The historic landmark and tourist attraction was first established in 1960 and has since installed over 2,000 stars along Hollywood Boulevard Vine Street honoring celebrities in movies, television, music, radio, theater and sports.
While the Walk of Fame ceremonies are always a grand event as they honor the biggest and brightest in Hollywood and beyond, many small details go into the starry finished product that viewers might not realize — like that recipients have to apply for a star and there’s a sponsorship fee once they’re selected.
PEOPLE spoke exclusively with Walk of Fame producer Ana Martinez, who plays an integral role in ensuring the ceremonies run smoothly, about all the components that make the stars what they are.
Here are several details you might not have known about the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Anyone can nominate a star, but the star has to consent to the nomination
The Walk of Fame is made up of six categories including motion pictures, television, recording, radio, live performance, and sports entertainment. Martinez tells PEOPLE, the nominee must have “longevity in the field of entertainment,” meaning five years or more working in the industry, and have earned awards or nominations.
They also have to do philanthropic work. “They have to give back to the community,” she explains. "And it could be anywhere. It could be overseas as long as they do philanthropic work.”
While Martinez notes that usually it’s the celebrity’s studio or record label that nominates them for a star, anyone can nominate, including a fan. They just need to include the celebrity’s agreement in their official application.
In fact, there is a special “Springsteen clause” that requires a celebrity's consent, which came to be after a fan nominated Bruce Springsteen without clearing it with The Boss himself, leading to an awkward moment.
“We announced it and he did not want it," Martinez recalls. "So I created what's called the Springsteen clause, which [means] you now have to sign off on it. Because otherwise, it's not fair to those who do want it."
There’s a sponsorship fee
Yes, it costs money to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! In addition to a $250 fee to submit an application, there is also a sponsorship fee of $75,000 upon selection, which pays for the creation and installation of the star as well as maintenance of the Walk of Fame.
“I have to file for permits,” Martinez explains of the cost. “We pay the police for off-duty officers for security, the fire department, our production costs, the making of the star, barricade, security, photography. It's a tourist attraction — it's not all done for free, but it's a free event for the fans to attend.”
Martinez points out that when Liza Minnelli’s fan club nominated her, they raised funds by having bake sales. “People would pay an entry fee and they would eat baked goods and watch her movies."
She also points out how Dean Stockwell’s fans honored his environmentalist background by raising money for his star by recycling newspapers.
There are different rules for submitting a group
The application process includes one additional stipulation for music groups in which all names of the group members, past and present, must be included on the nomination form. Martinez notes that this keeps the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce protected against lawsuits.
“Sometimes there's not a person in the group anymore and sometimes there's feuds and things like that,” she explains. “So we have a waiver protecting us from being sued because that person is no longer in the group and is upset that they're not.”
There are certain rules for posthumous nominations as well
When it comes to nominating stars posthumously, Martinez explains that there is a two-year waiting period after a celebrity's death before they celebrity can be nominated, which essentially serves as a “mourning period.”
Notably, she says, “Carrie Fisher, when she passed away, people were like, ‘Oh my God, we have to do this.’ It just puts a lot of pressure on the committee. So they waited. But her brother nominated her and she got it. It was unanimous.”
She adds that just as a living celebrity has to give their consent to receiving a star, a late celebrity’s family or estate must give their consent for a posthumous star. And she has two examples of stars that didn't get their deserved stars while they were still alive, and are great candidates in death.
One Walk of Famer, Martinez recalls, "said, ‘Hey, Prince, you should be nominated.’ And Prince said, ‘No, I'm not ready.’ And then sadly, he passed away. So I'm hoping someday his family will nominate him.”
“Same as Whitney Houston,” she adds. "She was selected when she was living, but never set a date. So when she passed away, people were so upset. And we can't force them to set their date. I have never heard from the family since she passed. Maybe someday they will want to do it.”
There’s a special committee that selects the recipients
After "a couple of hundred" applications are submitted each year, Martinez says a special committee meets annually in June to review and select recipients. The committee, which Martinez suggests and the President and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Steve Nissen approves, is made up of six Walk of Famers (one per category) and a selection committee chair who is also a Walk of Famer. Martinez notes that former committee members have included Vanessa Williams, LL Cool J, Kristin Chenoweth, Don Mischer and Vin Di Bona.
"Each committee member who has their own star represents their category," she explains. "They get the information ahead of time and then we meet in June and then they go through all the applications. And then we go back and forth and discuss, and that's when they make their selections.”
She adds that the committee members usually serve a two-year term but can extend to four years if they wish. And the makeup of the committee has changed: “It used to be executives, like a movie studio head or a record label person, but then I talked to my boss at the time, like ‘Why don't we have Walk of Famers and they can vote for their peers?’ It's worked out amazingly. We've had some really good people.”
After the committee votes, there are a few additional steps in the selection process, including having the vote “ratified by the board of directors of the chamber,” filing “a permit for each star” and then having the city council give their final approval.
A celebrity has two years to schedule their ceremony
After a celebrity is selected, they have two years to schedule their ceremony before their application expires. Though the celebrity usually has their management team facilitate the ceremony arrangements, Martinez recalls that John Waters was heavily involved in the process.
“I dealt directly with him,” Martinez says. “He was so fun. He was just a character.”
Celebrities can’t choose where their star is located
Martinez notes that she’s heavily involved in choosing where a celebrity’s star is located because there are “so many complications” to consider, such as not having stars located on corners or near bus stops or crosswalks.
Though the celebrity can’t pick where their star is located, Martinez says she does try to “make it something that is connected to them.” She recalls one instance where she paid tribute to Steve Gutenberg’s role in the Police Academy movies with his star location.
“I put his in front of the Police Activities League, which is a nonprofit that the LAPD runs for kids in the community, because of the police connection," she says. "And he looks up and goes, ‘Oh my God. This is where I did my first audition.’ [There are] very rare coincidences like that!"
She adds that she usually tries to put families (such as Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell) and costars (like Laverne & Shirley's Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall) together as well.
With more than 2,700 stars on the Walk of Fame, Martinez adds that some hot spots around Hollywood are quickly running out of space. For instance, there’s only one left at the TCL Chinese Theatre, but she’s reserving it for Julia Roberts — who was selected, but did not have a chance to have her ceremony yet.
“She was selected a while ago, before COVID. So for people like her, we're going to reinstate them,” she says, explaining that the COVID delays meant that scheduling was difficult for several years, so she's granting some extensions on the two-year rule to set a date.
Additionally, once stars are put in place, they stay there forever. "Some people think we do them in one spot and then we move them. No, they're done at the location that I select [and] they stay there."
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce previously reiterated this in a statement to Yahoo, saying that because the Walk of Fame "is a registered historic landmark, once a star has been added to the Walk, it is considered a part of the historic fabric of the Hollywood Walk of Fame ... Because of this, we have never removed a star from the Walk.” (So no, a celebrity can't be removed for bad behavior.)
The celebrity does choose who speaks at their ceremony
Though the celebrity doesn’t have any say in where their star goes, they do have a say in who speaks on their behalf during the ceremony. Contrary to popular belief, there is no stipulation about who can speak in their honor, though stars usually lean towards friends or people they’ve worked with.
The only requirement is that the speaker discuss their relationship, whether it be a friendship or working relationship, within the two minutes they're allotted. ("Not a career bio," Martinez clarifies, as that is done in the introduction.)
A person can receive more than one star
While Martinez notes it’s “very rare,” celebrities can receive more than one star. “If people qualify in two different categories, they can submit themselves a couple of times,” she reveals, noting that Gene Autry has the most, with five stars.
“Ron Howard [is] the most recent one,” she says of the child actor-turned-director. “He got it in 1960 for being Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and then for motion pictures as a huge director. So he's got two.”
It takes about four days to make the star
There is a lot of planning that goes into the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, including making the iconic star, which Martinez says usually takes four days.
“For the star itself, they have to make it four days in advance because it has to cure,” she explains. “They're made of terrazzo, it's an Italian marble. Once it's made, my star maker has to send me the name plate so I can proof it. And then after I approve it, he covers it up and then we wait three to four days for it to dry. And then the morning of the ceremony, it's polished.”
“And then the ceremony itself, the production, they come at 6:30 in the morning and they clear out by 3:00. The ceremony is at 11:30 and we are livestreaming it.”
Martinez recalls one wild instance where Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ star accidentally got misspelled and her team had to rush to fix it. Though they were able to correct the mistake, Martinez says Louis-Dreyfus hilariously wanted to keep it, calling it “her Seinfeld moment.”
“We ended up giving her that chunk with the misspelled name and she did a little video about it,” Martinez adds. “It was pretty funny.”
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