Halloween in Hollyweird

With the possible exception of special effects artists, who tend to be year-round freaks, folks working in the entertainment industry don't much care for Halloween. We see our share of illusion, day in and day out, and unless somebody's paying minimum union scale plus pension and healthcare, we're rarely in the mood to dress up and play along.

Coincidentally, this is also my theory as to why your big Hollywood starlet runs off to an ashram for her first couple of weddings, barefoot and clothed only in her own hair; she has worn the big white dress at work and it just wasn't all that interesting. Then again, neither was the semi-nude thing on the banks of the Ganges at sunrise under the spell of some faux yogi and a wicked hangover. It takes an average of fourteen months to sort all that out, claim she was off her meds and seek a quick Mexican annulment and secret tummy tuck.

Anyway, that's how it went for me, give or take a few fungible details. The point being that, although the search for high drama is what brought us here, we are unlikely to make our own just for sport. Having made our big escape into the bowels of fantasyland only to discover there's no way out, we know all too well that fun can be anything but good and clean. Somewhere along the way, we gurus of glamour become the proverbial shoemakers with no shoes, kitten-heeled or otherwise.

Though I have been a working writer for the better part of thirty years, my showbiz career actually began in front of the camera. While I sometimes refer to myself as a former child actress, that's really mostly to throw you off as to my true age.

The fact is, I worked well into my twenties, starting on the stage and working my way up to television commercials and even an iconic network role or two. I auditioned for (but didn't get) the role of Nick Nolte's secretary in Cape Fear and Burt Reynolds's secretary in Striptease. Apparently I exuded a screen presence that made me ill-suited for office work. Apparently.

Digging through some old photos this past week, I couldn't find a single picture of myself in costume just for fun. I was either starring in the school play, thus turning in some of my greatest work to dateor else being snapped  by a script supervisor for continuity on location somewhere far more exotic than anywhere I've been lately.

As for my current Halloween plans, I live in a barn set behind a large main house, where I wouldn't get much attention from the trick-or-treaters unless I set the place on fire. I'm off sugar, as well as alcohol, carbs, high heels, low necklines and brief, barefoot marriages, doomed before they began. I may decorate a pumpkin or two but I don't like to carve into them at all so they last all the way through to Christmas. Life imitating art and all, that's a ho-ho-holiday we ho-ho-Hollywood hoes can get behind.

Big Hollywood Call In the Sky

My cousin's kid, a college freshman back east, wrote me that he hoped to make it to Hollywood some day and maybe even have a future in showbiz. I told him what I tell my own students who share that unfortunate yearning. "You can do or be anything you want to be," I offered up in all its American Girl doll-of-the-year theme song simplicity.

I left off the second half of the sentence"That is, as long as you are willing to pay the price"as I often do in cases of extreme fresh-faced youthful optimism. Part of me thinks this little hitch is so obvious it's not worthy of a reminder. The other part doesn't want to be the first to offer up the gory details.

All these many years into my own Hollywood journey, the price to which I refer has not so much been the sting of rejection, as one would expect, but rather the endless, relentless, unyielding anguish of waiting.You learn to live life riding the hold button like an electronic bull, not sure why you're hanging on when being thrown off would be just as sweet a relief. Something, anything to break the monotony of anticipationeven a no would do once it becomes so painfully clear just how rare and delicious a yes will be.

Worse yet, in a town where anything can happen at any moment and hardly ever does, the self-imposed sentence to life in limbo as time marches ontoward your inevitable irrelevance either wayapplies to all levels of success. I once heard, for example, that the Oscars after party for Saving Private Ryan felt downright funereal after Steven Spielberg spent the entire awards season waiting for his name to be called, only to lose in a last minute upset to Shakespeare in Love.

I can only imagine his camp's more recent state of embitterment after Lincoln fell victim to the same waiting game all year, only to lose to that scrappy little Argo bunch. Still, you can't help but envy the Dreamworks crew for knowing, at long last, whether the next morning would hold firings or promotions and a fleet of new Priuses peppering the lot, courtesy of the boss.

For my money, some news, any newsgood, bad or, yes, even indifferentis always going to offer up some peace, however bittersweet. Another thing about Hollywood, though, is nobody wants to be the one to tell you no. They don't even want to tell you yes for fear of taking the heat should you and your little project fail, against all odds, to hand Spielberg his ass in the underdog story of the century. 

I did not share any of this with my cousin, most especially not that last thing. You don't come to Hollywood to get good at waiting. You come here to happen, and then it turns out there's no such thing. For my part, there is always blogging. I figure you can't get any more proactive then hitting "publish" at will between steady gigs such as mine, most recently, writing theme songs for American Girl.  "You can do and be whatever you want to be." Oh, come on. Did you really think I just pull that kind of gold out of the sky?