BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - When the one-man, publicity-generating whirlwind that is Diddy met the well-oiled hype machine of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, sparks were bound to fly.
Sean Combs is getting a star Friday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an event most honorees mark by turning up at the assigned time, smiling for cameras, and going about their business.
He put a video online asking fans to show up for the star-unveiling, set to the tune of Lupe Fiasco's hit "Superstar." He sat down at the Beverly Hills Hotel for advance interviews with infotainment TV shows and The Associated Press. And he's being feted with a lavish party Friday night at billionaire Ron Burkle's sprawling Beverly Hills estate.
"It's also like my coming-out party here in Hollywood," Combs told AP. "I don't have nothing to hide about that. If I'm going to come someplace, I'm going to make some noise, and you're going to know I'm here."
Combs is house-hunting in Los Angeles now, and plans to split his time between here and New York to pursue his acting career. To that end, he's looking through scripts in search of the next role.
He calls it a perfect time to stop and reflect on recent successes. Two of his "Making the Band" groups - Danity Kane's second album and Day26's first - just landed at the top of the Billboard charts. His ABC movie "A Raisin in the Sun" was a hit with critics and viewers in February.
"Sometimes you got to take a step back and breathe and enjoy and realize the magnitude of it, where you came from, how hard you worked, all the people that rode with you through your ups and downs," Combs said.
Family and friends from the block he grew up on in New York's Harlem neighbourhood were joining him at the ceremony outside the Hollywood and Highland shopping complex.
"It inspires them," Combs said. "It inspires, you know, millions of young people all over the world that are in a place that I grew up in right now, and they want to make it to that point. I don't know if we know where Brad Pitt came from, or George Clooney.
"People are familiar with my journey, so it may inspire them more," Combs said. "So whether it's Eminem or Britney Spears or myself, you know of that journey. Whether it's coming from a small town, coming from a trailer park in Detroit, or coming from Harlem, New York. So when certain things happen to us, it's bigger than us. It inspires people."
What about that party, which is sure to inspire a few paparazzi in the direction of Burkle's mansion? Combs calls it an "intimate 250-person party" with "just very very close friends and family and people that I know throughout the industry."
The constant salesman drops shout-outs to sponsors Ciroc vodka and Cadillac, but won't reveal the guest list - except to note that David Beckham can't make it. Becks has a game in Utah on Saturday.
"I've had great parties with no celebrities there, great parties with tons of celebrities. We're all people," Combs said. Asked about the fest's rumoured price tag, Combs smiles and responds: "It's up there, but I can't confirm it's $4 million. It's priceless."
Wearing a royal blue sweater over an elegant shirt and tie, with cufflinks shimmering next to a Cartier watch, Combs said he hasn't rewarded himself for the Walk of Fame star with any new toys or baubles. "We going through a recession right now, so I'm cutting back," he said. "Whatever I don't need, I'm just not buying it."
But he does have a few suggestions if friends are worried about what to get a guy who seems to have everything: "This party that we're throwing, it is a gift. I'm not going to turn down a gift. So if somebody wants to buy me a Maybach or a house in Beverly Hills, I'll accept it."
More seriously, Combs said he hasn't yet decided yet whether to file a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times, which last month retracted a March story implying that associates of Combs were behind a 1994 assault on Tupac Shakur, and that he knew about it in advance.
"I don't have nothing against them now," he said. "And if I sued them, they'll understand it's business. It's not personal. Just like if they were going to write a story about me, it wasn't really personal, it was business. But they didn't handle their business the right way. I was happy that I kept my faith in God and that the truth came out as quick as it did."
The man who launched the careers of Notorious B.I.G. and Mary J. Blige said he's back in the studio now, tinkering in preparation for another album. He's is utterly unabashed about utilizing reality TV or the occasional publicity stunt - relieving himself on YouTube, for example - to further his ambitions (fragrances! liquor! marathons!).
"I'm a definition of how to build a brand and a 360 model. I feel like I'm the definition of that," Combs said. "This new concept that people have, I've been doing it for years. Creating a way out of no way, making lemonade out of lemons, that's what I do.
"So if the music industry's getting cannibalized by the Internet, I figure out how to work with it, I figure out how to survive. You throw me in the jungle butt-naked, I come out with a lion's head, some bearskins and a bunch of food. I may be driving a Maybach."
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