An email arrived in my inbox yesterday titled:

Calgary Comic Expo Hayden Panettiere Release.

And the details: Hayden Panettiere, award winning actor and vocalist, has been added to the Calgary Expo's growing roster of media and creator guests for the convention which runs April 27-April 29, 2012.

This reminded me of when I was in Toronto in August staying at a hotel downtown. And for a few nights I thought it was Comic-Con because of the increase in nerd population in the neighbourhood. Then I saw their bags and their badges. It was a local nerd convention. And, apparently, Hayden appeared at that one too.

If I ever become the Dean of the Faculty of Celebrity Studies at a liberal arts university somewhere in New England (which is my life goal, for real, not even a little joking), I hope to design a course on celebrity career analysis and strategy. Every week the class will study an actor and his/her choices, publicity strategies, and personal marketing plans and suggest next steps. But not, like, the George Clooneys and the Sandra Bullocks of the world. Too easy. I’m talking about people like Mira Sorvino. And Christian Slater. Hayden Panettiere is a good one too.

Hayden was a big deal a few years ago on a big deal show. Remember Heroes? Heroes was a thing. Heroes died really, really quickly, but for a while there, it was a thing. And therefore Hayden was a thing. And now...

Hayden Panettiere makes money by going to conventions.

She’s only 22 years old.

This is a source of income now. Because it’s not like she’s doing much these days. Scream 4 was not a step forward. And that was shot almost 2 years ago. Since then...nothing. Maybe a tv movie? Oh wait, no, here’s Hayden in New York a couple of days ago getting a tattoo while filming a segment for TLC’s NY Ink. Like, she’s making guest appearances on TLC shows now.  

I would LOVE to hear a publicist spin that one into a statement that’s supposed to convince me that she’s thriving professionally.

So what happened to Hayden?

Well, there was the failure of the show, which wasn’t really her fault, but then there was the time she needed to be told to sit DOWN, remember? Click here for a refresher. The movies totally died. And then, if you want to be brutally honest, part of it is physical too.

Hayden can’t compete for the grown up women’s roles. And she may now be too grown up for the constant high school roles. And - call it mean if you want to but this is how they talk in Hollywood when they’re judging one actress after another on their looks - she lacks a certain aesthetic sophistication to land a role, for example, on a show like Gossip Girl, even Revenge.

If you’re her agent/manager then, what’s the next move?

This is what my university course would be about. A case study like Hayden P might even be the final exam.  

For starters, I think Hayden is strictly television. This is not a movie star. But I also don’t see her as a Sarah Michelle Gellar, either. You can’t give her her own vehicle. New student on Grey’s Anatomy? Totally. It’s a good start. It only buys her 2 years, 3 tops though. (How long has Grey’s been on the air now? A LONG time.) And that’s provided she kicks ass first as a guest star, then recurring character. If she can pull that off, and she’s steady on Grey’s in the chorus for a while, then we get to age 26 or so and we may be able to start talking about playing the best friend of the lead girl in a new pilot. And she might kinda pilot bounce for the next decade or so until she reaches her mid to late thirties when, by then, she really comes into her own, after two decades in the business, as a sort of Julie Bowen type.

I mean that’s one proposal.

The point of the class is for each student, or each group of students, to come up with the best possible plan for a particular celebrity with a particular set of challenges. Imagine if they came to hear the presentation? Imagine if that’s where Hollywood is headed?