Hi Gang, and greetings from Hollywood!
Call me nostalgic, call me old-fashioned, call me anti-deluvian, but the lack of civility in the world is starting to chafe my tokhes!
When I started out in this business waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1961, (you know, when the polar ice caps were still receding,) stars acted like stars. They rarely left the house without looking like stars, and they acted like stars. There was a noblesse oblige that defined them, and so they were welcomed, with open arms, in any restaurant because their mere presence added a touch of distinction to wherever they went.
Then, something happened. Sean Penn trashed a hotel room. And it seems this one single act set off a chain reaction that did to Hollywood what the ten plagues did to Egypt. Stars began going out looking like they just raided the dumpster behind Goodwill. Demi Moore appeared naked (and pregnant, no less,) in a magazine. George Michael got busted for trying to seduce a cop in a toilet. I could go on, but you get the idea. Stardom became defined as little more than a paycheck, and who had the more colorful run-in with the paparazzi.
But the abso-freakin’-lutley most reprehensible display of what a star is not came to me from one of my little cyber-birdies who sent me the now infamous ‘Christian Bale’ rant. As I sat listening to the sound bite I almost had an asthma attack! In my forty-eight years in this business, I have never heard such a display of unprofessional, and unwarranted, filth.
After listening to it, I sat back, and reflected on how some of the directors I’ve worked with would have handled it. John Houston would have probably punched Bale in the mouth, and be damned the consequences. Joseph Mankeiwitz would have internalized his rage long enough to get hold of the studio, and tell them to replace him, or he’d shut down production. Gene Kelly would have just gotten even by changing the choreography, and giving the most difficult, and exhausting, footwork to him. I don’t know what Alfred Hitchcock would have done, and anyway I doubt if Bale would have dared to act that way in front of ‘Hitch’ for fear he might get sat on.
The bottom line is, m’dears, that most people who lend themselves to the title of ‘Star’ do little to deserve it. They want to be slovenly, and disrespectful, to their public, and co-workers, while still being treated as if they were gods on Olympus. They want the benefits of celebrity, while retaining the anonymity enjoyed by the rest of us poor shlubs. In the old days, when the studios ruled, these bulvans would have been put on suspension. Or worse, their own studio would have knifed them in the back the way M-G-M did Joan Crawford when it was discovered that the outbreak of Gonorrhea, at the studio, had been started by her promiscuous behavior. In any case, in the old days, Bale would have been blacklisted, and would have been relegated to doing commercials for a used car dealership in Lompoc.
Fortunately, we still have stars, like John Travolta, who, after grueling fourteen-hour days, still cheerfully signs autographs, and poses for pictures, on his way out of the studio. Or, Brad Pitt, who once saw a guy in a chicken suit on the street calling attention to a new Fried Chicken shack, (a job Pitt himself had had during his salad days,) and slipped a fifty dollar bill through the guy’s beak, and says “After work, get yourself s beer!” I could list many more, but again, you get the idea.
Is dignity, and grace, dead in the biz? No, but it’s surely got a shtuck en der gedyrem. Granted, the pressure of being a star is substantial. But these are pressures that anyone who can read a tabloid is well aware of when they sign onto the job. And, the higher the salary, the higher the standard to which these people are held. Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, Harry Cohn, all knew it, and they enforced it. But alas, with the Hollywood Dream Machines having gone the way of the Dodo, and the widget, we can only hope that the airing of Bales dirty laundry will make other stars sit up, and take stock of their own behavior.
For those of you who didn’t hear the “Bale Rant,” it might not be too late. Here is the link.
It’s my hope that public outrage, at displays like this, will somewhat humble people like Bale, who think their prestige in the business gives them the right to abuse others. Well, Mr. Bale, it doesn’t. It’s a shondeh!
Till next month, Gang!
The Gantseh Megillah
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