5.29.2007

Julie, Fully Loaded

I have officially experienced my most surreal, life imitating art, Hollywood moment to date. Taking one of my many daily scheduled breaks from writing my latest spec script, I tuned in to CNN to watch my personal idol, Nancy Grace. Naturally her topic was the Lindsay Lohan Affair, not to be confused with the many previous Lindsay Lohan Episodes or Lindsay Lohan Scandals, none of which involved fleeing the scene of an accident, subsequent arrest at the hospital, and the alleged possession of cocaine. Apparently the poor dear's felonious odyssey began at the Hotel Roosevelt, which is just far away from my house for me to have the ideal view of its famous, seventy-five-year-old sign. Nancy's correspondent, Sibila Vargas, was reporting live via satellite from a place that looked strikingly familiar. I walked outside to discover her crew just down the block and her cameras pointed in the general direction of my house.

I don't write much about movie stars here, except the few I've met, most of whom have gone on to annoy me enough to inspire only thinly disguised identities. To my mind, this town doesn't belong to them at all, but to the rest of us. The people who truly run Hollywood do so on the sheer force of our undying desperation, fueled by those big dreams and persistent passions even protracted failure can't quite seem to tamp down. For people like me--who've enjoyed some measure of success only to find even sporadic employment is no guarantee of Hollywood immortality--talent is a curse. With it comes the indefatigable belief that moving on, rather than staying to put up a fight, is clearly the hollower of two flawed dreams.

All this makes me wonder what life here must be like for someone whose meteoric rise to the top began at the age of ten. My friend D. was a child star, appearing as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years from the time she was in seventh grade. We met in film school, where D. was auditing screenwriting classes, and she went on to play the role of me in a staged reading of my semi-autobiographical thesis script. D. told me she hadn't been interested in acting until a friend of her mother's--the actress Lesley Ann Warren, who played Cinderella in the Rogers & Hammerstein movie in the early 60s--told her she had star quality. Though D. had a recurring role on The West Wing a few years back, her adult career has been less than remarkable. She remains, however, both suprisingly balanced and completely realistic. She writes and develops her own material, manages her money well, does stage work to hone her creative muscle and studies ballroom dancing for fun. Once in awhile I see her posing on some red carpet for the fashion page of the National Enquirer, which I'm not the least bit ashamed of telling her I read, adding that I always buy it along with that week's edition of The New Yorker.

I suppose the difference between D. and other child stars is superior parenting. D. is very close to her mother, who really looks more like a sister, as well as to her actual sister, who was also a child actress. The three of them sent me a Christmas card last year costumed as full-on elves, complete with North Pole scenery and prop reindeers. It's the kind of thing my family would do if we were all show-offy instead of only me.

Would I trade all my struggles for a shot at being an A-list actress by the age of twenty? You bet. Would I like to be rich and famous and skinny as a rail? Absolutely. Would I like to have my pick of all the best projects, to spend my days shopping on Robertson Boulevard, my afternoons poolside at Chateau Marmont and my nights sipping cocktails at Teddy's? Hell yes. What I wouldn't dream of trading in exchange is a mom and dad who love me with all their hearts and would be there if I fell, no matter how far away I was or how long it took to bring me home. I don't think Lindsay Lohan has any of that. I don't think she has anything.

18 comments:

  1. My wife worked as a PA for a very famous songwriter, known for her schlocky love songs that get into your brain and never leave. One evening, they were driving Lohan's mom home around two in the morning, and lo and behold, her six year old was still up and about, running around the place like it was normal for him to be up. And just like she dismisses her daughter's behavior as always being someone else's fault, I bet that this little kid is going to follow the same path as Lindsay. Makes that Morgan Creek guy even more of a hero doesn't it?

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  2. Just curious J, but what does a night at the Chateau cost these days? I wouldn't mind spending one night there and soak up the _____ (insert fave here)

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  3. I agree. That poor girl is a mess, and I don't think any of her "people" do much more than defend and enable her. It's sad.

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  4. "The people who truly run Hollywood do so on the sheer force of our undying desperation, fueled by those big dreams and persistent passions even protracted failure can't quite seem to tamp down."

    Nicely put. Where would all those stars be without a horde of people worshipping their every move in the not-so-secret hopes that we could be them one day?

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  5. I wish you all of that at 40. I'd have wished it for you at 20 but I didn't know you then.

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  6. The saddest part is all would be forgiven had Georgia Rule done any box office.

    MQ--I have never paid for a hotel room for my life. And it's not for the reason you are conjuring up right now, thank you. I used to be a travel writer. We don't pay. I'm supposed to now of course but now I couldn't afford it anyway so it doesn't really matter. Does that answer your question, dear?

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  7. So the real question is, how does D. feel knowing that every American boy in the vicinity of her age had a stone-cold crush on Winnie Cooper, and therefore her?
    Every time I see Lindsey Lohan I want to get her a sandwich. A big double whopper, followed by extra large fries.
    If she would just eat, she could not only look more normal, but might hold her liquor better.

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  8. I'm laughing, I'm crying. As for D., she's a little iffy on all that. Let's just say I've written about her before and she was none too thrilled. It's not that she minds being written about, just that she really wants to move past being Winnie. Alas, we are all just that short of having it all.

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  9. Hey, Doug, who you calling forty? We don't do that here, even if we're fifty, unless we're really super mad at someone for stealing our parking spot.

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  10. Surfed here through BOTB but definitely will be heading back,love your blog *air kiss*
    Lindsay is following hot on the heels of a lot of the other "child stars" only she seems to be doing in a lot more spectacular and public fashion.
    I agree if Georgia Rule had done well all would be forgiven and her press right now would all be positive even as she was driving headlong into lamposts.

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  11. Thanks, Wendy! Your name sounds familiar from BE. I like anything with wings in it, birds, butterflies, the eighties TV show...

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  12. I totally agree with you.
    Who wouldn't want to be rich, famous and good looking?
    But what you really got to do is hold on to the people who really love you (and will continue to do that no matter what). Money gets spent, fame and good looks fade away, but true friends remain.

    BTW, I like your blog. If you would be interested in link exchange, you can drop me a comment at http://photo-blogging.blogspot.com/

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  13. Consider yourself linked, Marko. See how easy I am when people agree with me? Sheesh, how hard is that?

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  14. And I get annoyed when my sons leave their dirty clothes on the floor....one is older, two are younger than her. All have more sense. I'll live with the socks.

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  15. Julie, as usual your blog is insightful and entertaining. It's not really fair to call it a blog, as blog implies off-the-cuff writing...your entries are really more like short essays, full of astute observations and self-deprecation (which you can lay off a bit, IMHO). In short, thanks for writing.

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  16. Chuck Loch3:25 PM

    Damn it, Julie, you did it again. Brought tears to my eyes with your poignant comments on poor littlr Lindsay (I'm serious).

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  17. Chuck, I have a sneaking suspicion that's more about your being a great dad than my being a great writer.
    ;-)

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  18. Nice post, Julie. I'm glad that D has it together. That is, after all, more important than all the work and fame.

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