Sunday, 16 August 2015

When You Wish Upon A Star...

Growing up in the North in the 1970s (or the 1930s as my American husband hilariously insists), movies were a big part of my life.

My childhood memories aren't filled with Enid Blyton style sun-kissed beaches - it was the North, it rained, incessantly, so Sunday afternoons were for black and white movies and discovering the gods I much preferred to the one I was forced to endure on a Sunday morning.
James Dean, Paul Newman, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe - creatures from a galaxy far more glamorous than mine.

I'm still a movie-fan and newer faces happily draw me into their celluloid worlds but what I've never really understood is the insane fixation with 'celebrities' which has expanded to ever increasing circles of madness with the advent of social media.

Where Twitter goes, the tabloids follow and then the 'serious' press continues the madness in the interests of social commentary. This week alone, tragically lonely multi-millionaire actor Jennifer Aniston may or may not have got married. The world's most pointless woman, Kim Kardashian, may or may not be pregnant and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was forced to supplement his country's falling income levels by working in a lap-dancing club...

You couldn't make it up - except they do. In another moment of creativity in the parallel universe that passes for 'celebrity journalism', Leonardo DiCaprio was recently reported as having got Rhianna pregnant He's won a claim for damages but the magazine's editor has insisted that the lawsuit was brought not because the story was clearly made up but because DiCaprio is a 'pervert' and a 'racist'. Oh the delights of being King of the world.

An obsession with celebrities is nothing new - the first fan magazine dates from 1911 and they were no slouches when it came to creativity, even if the aim was to 'protect' their idols' private lives. And bizarre fan behaviour isn't a new invention: screaming at boy-bands takes on a whole new dimension when you discover nineteenth century women used to throw their, presumably enormous, Victorian knickers at Chopin concerts.  

A bit like e-cigarettes, there's not enough research yet for us to determine whether Zayn Malik being newly single (I'm not giving the link, I truly don't care enough) or Binky Felstead's ability to lose weight eating pringles (again, don't care and neither should you) taking up more column inches than the Greek debt crisis, the West's refusal to sort out the tide of human misery that is immigration or the threat of religious fundamentalism is dumbing us all down...Perhaps it'll come up as a discussion point in Real Housewives.

If I'm having a celebrity rant, the only programme I want to recast is the tale of La La Land gone mad that is Entourage 

Now there are 2 problems with this - the first is that it can be really grim in its portrayal of women, although there are some brilliant female characters in it. The second is that the story revolves around a pretty boy actor, his insane (male) agent and his troupe of (male) followers who basically grow rich on the coat-tails of his fame. For the second issue, I'm just going to ignore it: my entourage will be female, a daring move but someone's got to do it. For the first, I'm going to apologise for not always being as good a feminist as I should be (I'm sorry but it's really funny) and, ironically, let the girls from the show speak for themselves...


Let's start with our centre-piece: the fast-burn superstar as played in the show by Bambi look-alike Adrian Grenier, all wide-eyed innocence even when he's up to no good and too beautiful to be true.

In my recast, we're going with Jean Harlow, the 1930s blond bombshell and one of the world's first movie stars. In true Hollywood style, Harlow lived fast and died very young burning through 3 husbands (including one who shot himself 2 months into the marriage) and numerous affairs while forging a stellar career and entangling herself with the Mafia, before dying at the age of 26. Even her death was a production - popular (and still persisting) rumours included hair-dye poisoning or sunstroke although it was actually from long-standing complications following childhood scarlet fever. That's the problem with the truth: its just so dull.

Jean was always well-equipped with a quote to fuel her publicity - her manager should be no less able. Ari Gold, the agent in Entourage played with foul-mouthed glee by Jeremy Piven, is a creation of pure sarcastic genius - google him and prepare to lose a day. Who else could play this role but the fabulous Dorothy Parker?

Parker is still the unassailable Queen of the Wisecrack, remembered for her huge literary output, razor-edged satire and her well-aimed wit which kept the luminaries of the Algonquin Round Table enthralled and on their toes. She is also, unfortunately, who I think I am when I'm drunk - it's a legacy of sorts...

To round off our little troupe, I'm staying with clever-tongued women, although my definition of that's probably a little different to Entourage's. Every star needs publicists to fan the flames of adoration and controversy, I just wish today's hacks had the style of those doyens of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons .Their gossip columns and unending feud ruled the celebrity seas and not only could make or break careers but ruin lives. Have a watch of Malice in Wonderland and sharpen your pen.

As I'm ending with a double act, it seems fitting to leave the last words to a sister-act who knew more than most about celebrity bad behaviour - if we're all going to play the audience to their madness, let's at least demand the good stuff...


  1. Love your recasting of Entourage! I'm a huge Dorothy Parker fan - but I do love Ari Gold! :)

  2. ..... and ps, I want to know more about Zayn Malik!!! I insist on a link!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (pps, that is a joke)

    1. Walk away - meant 2 say, enjoyed the novel which I've finally finished! Will tweet.

  3. Thank you - Ari has to be my favourite tv character since Hank Moody in Californication. Apparently I like bad boys and need to give myself a good talking to...


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