Who Will Be the Next Paris Hilton?

Now that the 'It' socialite is out of commission, who will take her place?

ByBlair Soden

June 12, 2007 — -- It has been a very sad and public divorce between the media and some of its favorite fodder. America's "it girls" Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Nicole Richie say they're hanging up their party shoes, leaving tabloids at a loss for their latest headlines. But never fear, the next Paris Hilton could be right around the corner -- she will just have some very large (size 11 to be exact) shoes to fill.

A recent series of unfortunate events has put what the world came to know as the "Brit Pack" out of commission. Lindsay Lohan's drunken Memorial Day escapades sent her back to rehab while Britney Spears continues to lay low after a very public head-shaving incident. But the ringleader, Paris Hilton, has made the most public disappearance -- and from her jail cell vows she'll change her wild ways.

"I have become much more spiritual. God has given me a new chance," said Hilton in a collect phone call from jail to ABC's Barbara Walters.

"My spirit or soul did not like the way I was being seen, and that is why I was sent to jail," she told Walters.

Hilton isn't the only "it girl" who said she's checked out of the party scene. US Weekly's Ken Baker said it seems as if all of America's sweethearts-turned-bad-girls have disappeared.

It's a good question. Not too long ago, when Hilton was at the height of her fame, she captivated American and international audiences with her, well, ability to be herself. Who will step into the vacancy that's left behind now that she's fallen from grace?

Hilton has become synonymous with Hollywood, but fame was made on the East Coast. The heiress's first public debut was on the pages of New York's, not Los Angeles' tabloids.

"Paris was a creature of Page Six for a long time, and there was a time where magazines like US Weekly wouldn't write about her because she was a local socialite," said Baker.

Waiting in the wings are some of New York's most recognizable socialites, such as Tinsley Mortimer and Lydia Hearst. They've both got the money, the famous last name and the long blond hair. But do they have the guts, or the ambition, to put themselves completely out there?

"I think that Paris' willingness to be completely exposed was what really made her different," said blogger Lisa Timmons, editor of the Web site A Socialite's Life. "People felt like they were getting a peek at something they weren't supposed to."

But are "good girls" like Mortimer and Hearst willing to kiss their wholesome images goodbye and expose themselves in the way Hilton did? Because in the "How to be Hilton Handbook " that's criteria No. 1.

Andy Warhol once said, "If you don't know Patrick McMullan, you ought to get out more!" Warhol was right. Celebrity photographer Patrick McMullan has seen his share of socialites and said the New York duo have done a good job putting themselves in front of his camera.

McMullan's lens has captured socialites and celebrities for years and, from his experience, he said Mortimer and Hearst both show promise of becoming the next big thing.

"Both these girls have the same abilities. They're photogenic, they're interesting, they understand how to be photographed and they know what it takes," said McMullan.

But while they may know what it takes, they still have a long way to go -- literally.

"My message to any New York socialite, if you want to be [the next] Paris Hilton, you've got to come to Hollywood," said Baker.

While Hilton made a name for herself in the Big Apple, she wasn't a New York native. Hilton was born and raised in Los Angeles and came to New York as a teenager. So maybe the next Paris won't come from New York after all.

Like the New York set, there's a crew of young Hollywood celebrities trying to take over where Hilton left off. Actresses Mischa Barton and Hillary Duff are among some of the up-and-coming pretty young things. And reality television stars Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag could be the next dynamic duo to demand headlines.

They have the fame but lack the social status and class of New Yorkers like Mortimer and Hearst. It's the time-old struggle between old money versus new money.

"I think the young Hollywood people aren't really socialites," said Baker. "They're missing that sense of entitlement and social status, and that kind of almost waspy sophistication."

If the New York girls lack the fame and celebrity and the L.A. ladies lack the prestigious background, what does it take to make another Paris Hilton?

"She's a mix of the sort of New York socialite with the personality of a young Hollywood B-lister trying to make a name for herself," said Timmons.

And she's made quite a name for herself. A 2003 sex tape made by Hilton's former boyfriend Rick Salomon made her an Internet sensation -- for behavior that is far from high society.

"She's kind of like the rebel socialite," said Baker.

Socialite watchers like Timmons say the next big thing is going to make her debut somewhere other than New York and L.A. She'll make herself known via the Internet.

She said it could be Cory Kennedy, a young blogger from Californi (http://corykennedy.blogspot.com).

"Cory Kennedy is in a very similar situation to Paris in the sense that she's a girl who has decided to enter a particular social scene and manages to use the attention that's drawn toward her to make a career," said Timmons.

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