By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
The meeting itself takes place in an airy office lined with framed movie posters of recent Paramount projects. The power-players in attendance are gracious enough to indulge my self-professed Robert Evans fetish with a few vague anecdotes. ("Bob is a trip. He'll tell stories for hours.") They toss out quotes from Juno in conversation as though it's Napoleon Dynamite or something; it's incredible hearing my baby get the sound-bite treatment. Emboldened by adrenaline, hubris, and SSRIs, I'm in top form. I talk about my stupid ideas for movies, books I'm interested in adapting, directors with whom I'd love to collaborate, and the second spec script I've just completed. I'm careful not to mock any actors offhandedly, seeing as someone in the room might have them on speed dial. Now is not the time to crack Scientology jokes or ask if the rumors are true about Vin "The Pacifier" Diesel. I leave the meeting feeling as though I've done medium-well and possibly endeared myself to the brass.
Afterward, the executive drives me back to the hotel, gabbing optimistically about possible upcoming projects. I nod mutely. The strangest thing about business travel is the absence of relief. After an intimidating meeting, there's no family to return to, no familiar-smelling home with stinky pets and broken air conditioner. My temporary haven is sleek and alien and about as comforting as a fiberglass meatloaf.
I have a couple of hours before my next meeting, so I decide to explore the hotel like my brother and I used to when we were kids. No gift-shop souvenir was safe from our grubby mitts, no child-unfriendly piano bar shielded from our prying eyes. In this spirit I head off on an anthropological mission, but I only get as far as the pool. The Standard features one of the only "common pools" in the West Hollywood area, meaning you don't have to be a guest at the hotel to use it (though apparently you do need chiseled abs and IMDB credits). As a result, the people-watching on deck is primo. Aspiring actors lounge and read scripts with the sole purpose of being observed. Comely guys and dolls in designer swimwear power lunch beneath mod steel umbrellas. The horizon is stunning, the sky is an intense blue, and a lone palm tree dominates my field of vision.
I sit down on a beach chair and order a Corona, the most affordable thing on the drink menu. Twenty minutes later, a SAG-eligible waiter returns with my brew on a tray. (When you're a size-10, Victorian-pale woman in a bikini from Target surrounded by Brazilian models in resort couture, you can't expect expedited service.) I drink my beer and listen to the hum of industry gossip surrounding me: "We've got a first-look deal with Sony," "Mischa's agent says she might be interested." "We're aiming for Sundance in '07." Based on my piecemeal observations, the Standard isn't really a hangout for established A-listers, more like mildly successful aspirants. I'd fit right in around here were it not for my cellulite deposits and uncompromised soul.
At that moment, a woman saunters out onto the pool deck in a shock-pink bikini, running her fingers idly through her long hair. She's walking behind--well, technically, she's attached to--a pair of HH-cup breast implants that thrust outward like saline torpedoes. No exaggeration here; she makes Pamela Anderson look like a sixth-grade flatty. Upon her arrival, time stops. Conversations trail off. Everyone on the patio stares unabashedly at her; normally it would be rude to gawk, but this hyper-engineered über-mammal clearly embraces attention. She grins at the crowd and swings her beach bag onto a chair near the grass on the periphery. Suddenly, as if on cue, the sprinkler system kicks in, nailing her and nobody else. She shrieks in surprise as cold water mists her breasts in a not-unattractive fashion, then realizes how utterly hot it looks. Arching her back languidly, she strikes a pose for her captive audience.
"We should invite her over here," a teenage millionaire murmurs to his companion at the table next to mine.
An hour after the impromptu poolside shower show, I drive my rented Toyota Camry over to the Fairfax neighborhood to have lunch with Manager. I've met him once before, but it always feels weird to actually see him after months of long-distance phone contact, him playing the invisible Charlie to my geeky Angel as we co-conspire. Manager has a pretty badass office next to CBS Studios and across the street from my second-favorite hotel in Los Angeles, the Farmer's Daughter. (The Daughter is the kind of joint where they're hip enough to provide you with chi-chi organic shampoo, but not so hip that they have a chick in a box.) Canter's Deli is also nearby, which means hot pastrami and first-rate celebrity sightings are within reach. You always see rehabilitated old rock stars in that place, patting down their rooster-mullets in an attempt to look inconspicuous.
I've never seen valet parking at an office building before, but here it is. Valet is law out here, though it pains me to part with the Camry, which I've nicknamed the Moneywagon. Upstairs, Manager and I quickly get reacquainted as I clutch my gut and explain the drug reaction. He's in worse shape than I am, having recently broken a foot. He props his swollen tootsies up on his desk and passes me a printed itinerary detailing all the meetings I'll need to attend within the next two days. According to this piece of paper, I'll be meeting with the producer of a certain acclaimed film (think Paul Giamatti and Merlot) in a scant two hours. Tonight, I'll have dinner with Juno's executive producer. Breakfast with a West Coast rep from my agency tomorrow, a presentation at the agency afterward, then the Paramount lot again at noon, then Warner Brothers tomorrow afternoon, then a meeting with my attorney, all on different ends of the earth. This is daunting shit for a girl who doesn't like to drive to the grocery store, let alone navigate the 405 Freeway in a cumbersome rental. Also, as I've mentioned, I'm scared of strangers, especially the kind who refer to Robert DeNiro as "Bob."