I just read that Chris Tucker has to sell two of his houses because of financial problems. Can't he just get another big movie job and pay them off? Why didn't he just pay cash for the houses when he had the money?
—Manana V., via the inbox
This is the same Chris Tucker who once shared a photo spread with Chris Rock in Vanity Fair's Hollywood issue, but also who, according to IMDb, has not released a film since 2007. So is this a one-percenter problem or a genuinely 99-percenter tragedy?
Here's what I can tell you ...
Even among onetime A-listers, or B-plus-listers, getting a job isn't all that easy.
Most entertainers "are still like the girl on Saturday night waiting for somebody to call," says Simon Singer, a certified financial planner with high-profile clients. "There are really only a few ultra-ultrarich stars who can have their picks and choices of what they want to do, but there aren't many of those."
In other words, if your last name ain't Jolie or Pitt or Depp, simply wishing for a job to pay off your bills just doesn't make it so.
Now, as for why Tucker got into this mess in the first place, here's what I know: According to widespread reports, Tucker is in debt to Uncle Sam. Specifically, it appears that he owes about $11 million in taxes.
According to celebrity money managers, that's not such an uncommon problem among stars. For one, stars don't do their own taxes; they leave such things to money managers who may or may not do such a bang-up job.
But more often, stars simply don't have business managers who handle taxes. The stars who do may very well order such minions not to set aside the proper cash.
"The attitude of the star may be, ‘I can buy and sell you, if you don't do what I say, I'll just get another business manager,'" Singer tells me.
As for your last question—Why don't stars just pay cash for houses when they can afford them?—because it's not considered a smart money move, that's why.
"You can't take your home to the grocery store to buy groceries with," Michael Eisenberg, of Eisenberg Financial Advisors, tells me. "If you buy a $20 million house, and you put down down and then get a mortgage, that's $10 million you have stored away for emergencies."
As for Tucker in particular, he may be on his way to a comeback; filming is underway for The Silver Linings Playbook, and Tucker is listed in the cast.