The Hollywood Lonely Hearts Club Band

Posted on August 28, 2012


Ellen Barkin portraying a fly trap

One of my most trusted theories about movie people and celebrities in the entertainment field more generally, is that when the well has run dry and even a ‘C’ list invitation would look like a Porterhouse to a starving dog – these Hollywood buffoons will resort to just about anything to get the attention of producers, directors and casting agents.  Desperate times call for  desperate measures.

The problem in need of solution is that the actor or actress is ice cold.  No calls from the agent, no lunch invites, no scripts to read, no paparazzi with telephoto lenses stalking.  No attention.  What does a Hollywood has been do?

In the publicity agent playbook, there is one ‘Hail Mary’ pass that you go to when the rest of the ‘West Coast Offense’ hasn’t even gotten you near the Red Zone.

You can tell I’m getting a little psyched up for Football season!!!!  Back to that desperation play…

You go somewhere and hang out and wait for someone from the media to show up. You may wait for hours. You may return for days or you may stalk an entertainment reporter. It’s like a stake out.

When the Golden moment arrives and you spot the unfortunate victim, you catch their sleeve, spin them around and say, “Do you know who I am?”  Then before the stunned correspondent can search within the recesses of their hippocampus – you spare them that awkward moment by providing the IMDB – or in many cases, the ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ elevator speech.

You hold your breath and hope the person doesn’t respond by saying, “Gee, I’m awful sorry, I was born in 1983, that was a little before my time. Have you done anything more recently?”

But they politely nod their head in vague recollection of your name and the big movie you were in back in 1991.  Then you ask if they would be kind enough to inquire about your political views.  This is it.  This is your chance for a base clearing home run over the stadium lights.

You know you can’t say anything with any measure of subtlety. You’ve been rehearsing your bold, brash, overheated, hyperbolic rant for weeks, months, perhaps years.  It’s pent up inside you. You have to give vent to it.  It doesn’t matter that you don’t believe a word of it. That’s never been the point. You’re an actor, for heaven’s sake!

Remember your acting teacher.  “What is your motivation?”  It just so happens that your motivation is to get some work in front of a camera – TV, an animated voice, commercials, infomercials, reverse mortgage pitches on Antenna TV, if it comes to that.  But you pray it doesn’t.

So you foam at the mouth and let loose of a bitter squall, dripping with invective towards those shotgun loving, abortion hating, Bible reading, Budweiser drinking, pick up truck driving, American flag waving, same sex marriage hating, global warming denying, Ronald Reagan admiring, Right Wing GOP Red Staters.

And you do it in the most debased, ill-tempered, knavish, indecent, loutish and utterly ignoble manner possible. No half measures here.  This is a ‘shout out’ to people who matter.  It says, “Hey, I’m still here.  I’ve still got the skills.  I can put butts in the seats – I know I can.”

And equally importantly, it says, “I really drank the liberal Purple drank – and liked it. And I want some more.  May I have another, Sir, please?  I’m just as progressive as George Clooney or Matt Damon.  In fact, I might be wrapped even tighter.”

This happens pretty much on a constant basis, but the barrenness, destitution and despair, drive each washed up on the beach former heavyweight to new levels of absurdity that suggest that even self respect will be the ballast thrown over the side if needed to cause the balloon to gain altitude.

Classic case in point.  Ellen Barkin.  She has always impressed me as a sort of ‘low rent’ version of Angie Dickenson.  I should scarcely mention the two women in the same paragraph.  Angie is a class act.  As an aside, I once considered naming my dog, Ellen.  I thought it might make for clever conversation.  “My dog’s name is Ellen and she specializes in…” – well, I thought better of that and stuck with the name Lilly.

Ellen Barkin has been botoxing up for the last few decades and she just got tired of waiting to corner an entertainment reporter with mike in hand.  Now Ellen, actually had a backdoor connection to power – her husband, cosmetic and entertainment industry mogul, Ron Perelman!  He couldn’t even bribe a producer to cast her.  Couldn’t he fund a movie himself, the cheap bastard?!  Maybe that’s why they split up.

Fortunately for Ms. Barkin and other retreads like her, there is now such a thing as the tweet.  Since no one that you really want to notice your tweet is paying attention, you bribe and cajole some friends into ‘re-tweeting’ your banal murmurings.

But, props to Ellen.  She devised a new wrinkle (oops, sorry), in this whole sordid maneuver.  It’s called re-tweeting a fake tweet from an unknown ‘friend’.  It accomplishes the same purpose, but maintains a thread bare pretense that one didn’t actually make the statement itself, one just agrees with the sentiment.

Here is the tweet,  wishing death, destruction and agony to conservatives this week in Tampa; yet again revealing the dark heart of the true believing progressive:

“C’mon #Isaac! Wash every pro-life, anti-education, anti-woman, xenophobic, gay-bashing, racist SOB right into the ocean! #RNC ” 

Appealing to the powers of nature.  How, may I ask,  does Hurricane Isaac know a ‘pro-life, anti-education, anti-woman, xenophobic, gay-bashing, racist SOB – from a convention protester wearing a Vagina costume?

There has to be a punch line there, but I got nothing.