Blind Item

I saw Randy Jackson yesterday at Pain Quotidien while I was lunching with the producing partner of an A-list actress I’m hoping to work with.  I only mention the super cool star sighting because, as regular visitors know, I don’t care to divulge the names of those I encounter in business settings. The last thing I need is some freak Googling “pain” + ”Randy Jackson” + “Insert Name Of A-list Actress,” only to end up here. You can’t expect your garden variety Internet pervert to know "pain" only means bread in French, can you? I also figure it’s only fair since I myself blog anonymously to protect the precise identities of people who buy me French food while expressing even a passing interest in hiring me. (Hint: She lives out of town, recently released an art house film and has a famous brother. No it is not Maggie Gyllenhaal. Were I ever to find myself a single degree of separation from Jake Gyllenhaal, one of us is going to name some freaking names).

If I happen to meet Faye Dunaway in the Express Line of Ralph’s, where I meekly point out the trail of dollar bills flowing from her back pocket like a trail of crumbs for the poor and obscure, that’s another matter entirely. While I may be the only person in the store star-obsessed enough to know this is Mommy Dearest we’re dealing with, not to mention Bonnie Parker and the Oscar-worthy crazy chicks from both Network and Chinatown, she can worry about her own stalkers.

My uncanny ability to pick a familiar face from among the crowd can be a burden. A couple of weeks ago, I was seated so close to Gretchen Mol in a restaurant I could actually hear the details of an intimate conversation with her agent. There may have been some tears, I don’t know, something about points on the back end. The attempted eavesdropping that continuously absented me from my own conversation annoyed my dining partner to no end, since my Type A Lawyer Sister had no familiarity whatsoever with this so-called “major movie star.” She became impressed by coincidence only after catching the actress wearing nothing but a smile and a horsewhip in The Notorious Bettie Page. My sister herself once saw Bruce Springsteen and Patty Scialfa sharing a sandwich at Canter’s—a score my mother, the retired Umatilla schoolteacher, had to point out. My sister's probable response was that their corned beef looked a little dry.

I know I’m supposed to become blasé now that I’ve made the big leap from abject failure to marginal and tentative success in just ten short years, but I just can’t see that happening. Whatever happens next en route to my treacherous, star-studded route to the top, it will be tough to beat my scariest Hollywood moment to date. I attended a birthday dinner on the back patio of Orzo on Robinson. It’s quite popular among famous smokers because it’s one of the few hotspots where they can light up like dirty little chimneys between overpriced teeth bleaching treatments. I didn’t know this at the time. All I knew was that a group of swarthy-looking foreigners, covertly chattering in what sounded like Arabic on a network of cellphones, had sequestered themselves within the leafy branches of some overgrown trees. This was shortly after 9/11, and I was convinced America was about to experience its first suicide bombing. But it was only the stalkerazzi in pursuit of Brad and Jen in their married, hairy and happy phase sharing a butt with Claudia Schiffer. I didn’t see that little magician guy the supermodel married at some point, but Timothy Dalton, the
failedformer James Bond, now doing something big somewhere good, was
cryingvocalizing into his beer a few tables over.

All I ask is that anyone wagering a guess as to the identity of my recent lunch date makes a concerted effort to spell it wrong. As it is, I’m dealing with "Claudia Schiffer + hairy + butt + horsewhip” in terms of future Google searches. The last thing I need is somebody adding Shirley MacLaine to the mix. Good guess, kids, but drats, wrong again.

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

Like most every kid with even a hint of dramatic flair, I began rehearsing my Oscar acceptance speech when I was seven. I thanked my dog, Crowley, for having a wet nose; my first grade teacher Mrs. Bowes who married suddenly and mysteriously quit her job; and of course my mom, who always got me to school on time and never stopped making me sandwiches.

Once I made it all the way to Hollywood and began pursuing screenwriting in earnest, I decided that should my time ever come I would proudly take the stage in my plus-sized gown from off the rack at Macy’s Woman and thank the people who hadn’t helped me get there. Though my true purpose would be to come across as gracious and forgiving, in actuality I’d have created the opportunity of a lifetime to savor the lingering bitterness I had no intention of letting go.

In the interest of time I might have to group them together, offering a grateful shout-out, for example, to the psychotic Internet dates who inspired me to focus exclusively on my career. Every no-talent anorexic in film school offering an uninvited script note or helpful bit of dieting advice would surely deserve a thumbs up from the podium. And how coud I neglect the legions of collection callers clogging my answering machine with urgent messages about our shared need to discuss a personal business matter. Certain individuals, however, deserve my singling them out for a heartfelt expression of gratitude…

To The Smug Overpaid Sitcom Weenie, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for failing to staff me on your short-lived, crap-ass, racist show after repeatedly promising to do so since we were kids. If not for your being a fraud, a user and a liar, I might never have written the spec script that launched my career in features, placing me significantly higher than you on the Hollywood food chain right out of the starting gates. I do look forward to denying ever knowing you to anyone who might ask, despite the fact that you are my brother-in-law.

To The Greedy Foreign Landlord, allow me to express my gratitude for your surprise illegal eviction of me after ten years in my rent-controlled Hollywood bungalow. The ten thousand dollars in damages you were forced to pay made it possible for me to survive the crucial months prior to my big break, a period in which I might have found myself back home in Umatilla working at The Home Depot.

To The Braless Warner Brothers Television Executive, how adorable it is that you married well, retired and took the mommy track only months after torpedoing my career. Had you not perceived an offhanded joke about a shortage in the world lingerie supply as a personal insult, my future might have been damaged beyond repair as a result of being staffed on The Brian Benben Show.

Finally, I thank The Estranged Brother On A Far-Off Tropical Island, who so frequently wrote to assure me, and I quote, that Hollywood’s “square peg” would never find a place for my “round hole,” so fondly comparing my knack for storytelling to your talent for lighting your own farts. How is it that of all the recent congratulations I received from perfect strangers in the blogosphere, I did not hear a peep from you? I do hope you have not inadvertently set your ass on fire.

Yes, all that was bitchy, even if it is the gospel truth. The good news is after all these years I’m still able to feel at all, even if it is only a twinge of guilt for telling it like it is. I suppose one of the most troubling things about surviving rejection is that it tends to numb you against feeling even the good stuff. I couldn’t have known that wallowing in failure might well be easier than reveling in success because I went so long without achieving any. I’m well aware that bitterness is wrong and bad, not to mention sinful and unattractive, but it works very well for chocolate and at least my brand isn’t fattening.

Julie Goes Chick Lit

Contrary to popular belief, Julie hasn't "gone Hollywood" as a result of her recent success to the exclusion of her friends in the blogosphere. What's really been keeping me from my usual zeal for self-absorbed public ranting is writing a book proposal inspired by my entries here over the last year. Yes, Julie Goes To Hollywood: A Single Girl, A Second Chance, And The Dream That Won't Die!, Already, Die! is nearly ready to go on the auction block to a shortlist of Fabulous New York Publishers. Unlike the Hollywood types I so strongly hesitate to come out and name, my Big Deal New York Literary Agent is a man so civilized he probably wouldn't mind my revealing his actual name here rather than referring to him as "Literary Boy." He is Jason Anthony, with the Zachary, Shuster, Harmsworth Agency in Manhattan.

I could not make up this fellow if I were writing a Sex & The City spec. He has a bulldog named Humbert who likes to go out and roll in snow in the middle of the night and thus doesn't care a whit if I call his cell at midnight to ask his favorite flavor of Jelly Belly. He's a longtime fan of the blog, who thinks, and I quote, that I am "Sedarisesque." I didn't ask if this meant Amy or David because I'm totally down with it either way and would be especially happy to be perceived as their love child. But that would be gross, since they're full-on brother and sister, and hailing from North Carolina is really no excuse for that sort of behavior. Besides, David is gay and has married well. Like me, Amy can't seem to land a real man and has an imaginary boyfriend. Hers is a swarthy foreigner named Raoul. They often quarrel before making passionate love. I only know this because she's always on Letterman yakking about the guy with that mad glint in her eye that so delights and entertains Dave.

Now that I've finally conquered Hollywood after all these years with an overpaid assignment to write my first studio screenplay, my greatest hope is that the literary world receives me with refreshing graciousness and expediency. I expect to be mass published at once in paperback, feted with free gifts and prizes, and sent on a whirlwind book tour concentrating in and around the South Pacific. Or at least acknowledged in some small way with, say, a charming note and a correctly spelled word of encouragement. Ten years in this town and a girl learns not to ask for too much, even if she is so strongly influenced by the nation's greatest living satirist and his loopy actress-playwright sister. I always wanted to be a Letterman favorite.

UPDATE: Shortly after this post, my book went out for auction and despite some very kind words from some very fabulous folks, failed to sell. Jason Anthony jumped to another agency, or so I heard, and no longer represents me. I have no idea what's up with his dog. 

Interior Monologue

Do we really want to pay three-ninety five for a tub of cantaloupe chunks? Do it, do it, throw it in the cart! Okay, but normally we get whatever they have on sale in a big bin with flies swarming around it the day before they ship it back to Tehachapi for the pigs. Don't you get it? Everything's different now! We're getting more for ten weeks' work than your average American couple brings down in six years. We're in, babe. Now pick up some nice rawhide bones for the wieners, so what if they do cost fifteen bucks a piece for scraps of freeze-dried Chilean shoe leather?

Hey, let's go pick out some of those stone crabs. And buy the Moet. Yes, the Moet. None of that Chandon crap, now, we've known very well since junior year abroad that "California champagne" is nothing but a déclassé bit of street slang. Why not pick up some of that pricey lemon garlic aioli, too, what's eight bucks and six hundred calories a teaspoon between friends? No, no, we'll make our own. "Gourmet" stuff in snotty jars usually sucks, even if it is from France.

Oh God, they're leading some guy out of Ralph's in handcuffs. He looks like a nice kid, really, a wannabe rock star who’ll strum you "Brown-Eyed Girl" on acoustic guitar for a quarter outside the Hollywood Farmer's Market. Another runaway with another dream from another Red State. Offer to buy whatever he stole, forgiving the fact that his folks voted in Doubleya. Do it! No, no, look the other way. Desperation could very well be contagious. Lord knows we don't want to catch that again. Okay, bitch, now it's too late. Rich people suck. You don't want to be a cheap rich girl like the Queen of England, do you? They say that old crone wouldn't pick up a tab if it bit her in the ass. Who says that? Andrew Morton, Sir Elton John, Mohamed al Fayed. People who know stuff.

Now they're putting the poor kid in a squad car just like the Matchbox kind he used to play with, telling him to watch his head. He's blushing now, visibly humiliated, as if hungry as hell weren't enough. Coming to Hollywood and wanting too much, that was his first mistake. Okay, now you're sad. Seriously, you could cry. There's all kinds of untapped talent itching to hit this town like an oil gusher, and yet, you can practically breathe the spillover vaporizing into the air with the morning smog. Hey, this must be Survivor's Guilt. It's hard to tell when you're Catholic and super in touch with your original sin, but yeah, it's a brand new feeling of shame, the "Why me?" kind. There’s also that little touch of Imposter Complex, as in "Uh-oh. Me?" You don't know how to write a hundred thousand dollar screenplay! Who are you kidding, Miss Fancy Pants? Let's not think about that now. Think about that tomorrow.

But don't forget the huge crate of toilet paper, the good kind that's quilted like a surprise powder puff from the rear. And buy that mother of all tampon boxes, forty bucks worth, the kind with the fancy pink applicators and the scent of a soft ocean breeze. Nothing says wealth and privilege like some gently perfumed privates. Where do they keep the goddamn Jelly Bellies already? Here we go, the big one, the party size. At ten calories a bean including the real fruit juices they're a nutritious, fat-free treat, it says so right on the jar.

Get in the pretend fancy car, wave to the fantasy crowd lining the streets, and ascend to the make believe palace. Now get out the bed tray and the ball peen hammer. Who needs a snooty nutcracker when you've got ten years of pent up hostility to direct at your crabs? Nothing wrong with shellfish and champagne in bed, Liz Taylor probably does it nightly. Music might be a classy touch, something feminist and self-righteous like the Indigo Girls. Wait, there's a hugely ironic Dateline episode on about people who surmounted long odds to make it to the top. Yup, your new hero is Joy Mangano, the divorced mom who invented the waterless mop to feed her kids and now lives in a twenty million dollar East Hampton spread just down the beach from Spielberg. Hah, the old man who dumped her for some tramp is now a lowly employee. You're totally loving that.

Stop thinking about your own ex, you haven't missed the big Croat for a good eight to ten years. Then again, he was always up for a celebration, the pricier the better. Last you heard he was body guarding for a no-name Saudi prince in Dubai. Do not get on that computer and search for the last e-mail where he claimed he'd "luff you 4ever, good Giuletta!" You always could measure how wasted he was by the quality of his spelling and grammar. Who are you to judge, you're half-crocked yourself. Yes, but never at a loss for words, darling. That's why they pay us the big bucks. The big, huge, rocking bucks!
That's it, sister, pour yourself another glass of champagne and phone in that long overdue order to HB Freaking O! Hell, get Showtime, too, and whoever's broadcasting the lady erotica starring Fabio at his peak, or perhaps a young, unknown college boy named Sly Stallone. Yup, it's good being queen, even if you are drunk, cheap and sleeping alone with the "Corgis" while some loser sits across town in a holding cell wishing he didn't have to call his father collect. Here's to you, good Giuletta. To the good life.