a novel by JOHN GRABOWSKI

Maleficent

Angelina Jolie

Whew, what a week. There are several people in Hollywood who have shorter Christmas card lists this year.

First up is superproducer Scott Rudin, who was caught bad-mouthing Angelina Jolie in emails leaked from a hacking scandal at Sony Pictures, which used to be called Columbia Pictures and used to produce some really great movies once. Mr. Rudin, who frankly has brought forth some of the best as well as most diverse Hollywood films of the last twenty years (The Hours, The Social Network, No Country for Old Men, Moneyball, I [Heart] Huckabees, The Truman Show, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Searching for Bobby Fischer…how’s that for eclectic?), called Ms. Jolie, among other things, a “minimally talented spoiled brat.”

I laughed so hard my sides hurt when I read all the breathless accounts of that tiff. Not because I think it’s true but because I find it hard to believe in her 39 years on this earth she hasn’t been called a lot worse.

Since the emails were made public, so many people are talking about how brutal and “bitchy” Hollywood is. Wow, seriously, you didn’t know this? Did none of you see Robert Altman’s The Player? And even that didn’t surprise me. In fact, I wondered why it wasn’t even more scandalous.

I am constantly surprised how so many people believe that the public face celebrities put forth is their real personality. They see beautifully-dressed people at social functions or doing interviews for a new film, saying how great and talented their co-workers are, making self-deprecating jokes, and they don’t seem to realize they’re watching an acting performance as much as they are when they go to the movies.

A few people in Hollywood were and are well-behaved. They are the exception. And even they have their hot buttons. We all do. They bad mouth each other constantly. They hug each other with one arm while searching for the rib to slip the knife under with the other. If a group of aspiring models or chefs or pop singers can be vicious in reality shows, can you imagine how it is in the multi-million dollar world of film deals? Just read William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade, written over 30 years ago, to learn about the blood feuds and unrestrained egos that are as much a part of Hollywood as stretch limos and paparazzi.

This is one of the themes in Entertaining Welsey Shaw, which is being agented currently, BTW. Welsey has been a part of this backbiting world since she was ten. And she’s reached her saturation point—at least for the time being. It’s a rough life, and you have to have a strong stomach and nerves of steel to play the game. It’s not for the faint of heart. And Ms. Jolie, who does not employ a publicist and manages her own brand, plays it better than just about anyone out there, seemingly doing everything right despite some very public missteps. I’m sure this ding to her image will be forgotten the next time she jets off to some country Americans never heard of till then and adopts another child.

Still, it can surely sting to find out someone you thought was in your corner isn’t. Rudin was emailing Sony boss Amy Pascal when he made his unkind remarks about Jolie. Pascal didn’t explicitly agree, but she didn’t refute him either. Then, the day after the news broke, Pascal was attending a power breakfast in L.A. when she unexpectedly bumped into Jolie—literally. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

As I said, shorter Christmas card lists this year, that’s for sure.

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