After listening to Gigi Bermingham's reading of the novel from young Hollywood insiders Hopper and Goldberg, it comes as no surprise to learn that the veteran stage and television actress earned both an Ovation Award and an L.A. Drama Critics' Circle Award for performing her solo play Non-Vital Organs. Bermingham juggles the colorful cast of over-the-top characters in this gossipy tale with finesse. As the "Hollywood ambassador" for her "best-gay forever" friend and designer Julian Tenent, protagonist Lola Santisi earnestly seeks to heal the scars of her dysfunctional Tinseltown upbringing and overcome "career-deficit disorder" during Oscar week. Bermingham proves particularly delightful in her portrayal of Lola's nemesis, actress Olivia Cutter, whose mercurial outbursts and oddball phobias manage to generate shock value even by the jaded standards of contemporary celebrity misbehavior. The upbeat musical interludes at the start and end of each CD also help sustain the glitzy ambience. Fans of Ugly Bettyand The Devil Wears Pradaprovide a natural audience for this entertaining production. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Press hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 10). (Feb.)Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Celebutantesby Amanda Goldberg, Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper
Prepare to enter a world of what fashion designer Michael Kors has called "stylish intrigue, glamorous machinations, and such juicy fun." Take a wild ride with Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Hopper, who have culled their insider's purview to peel back Oscar's legendary curtain and reveal what really goes on under the sheets of Young Hollywood. Do Happy Hollywood… See more details below
Prepare to enter a world of what fashion designer Michael Kors has called "stylish intrigue, glamorous machinations, and such juicy fun." Take a wild ride with Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Hopper, who have culled their insider's purview to peel back Oscar's legendary curtain and reveal what really goes on under the sheets of Young Hollywood. Do Happy Hollywood Endings really exist, or does everyone end up on the cutting room floor sooner or later? It's a shocking, entertaining race to the end of the red carpet…
Twenty-six-year-old Lola Santisi, daughter of an Academy Award-winning mega-director and a former cover model, is Hollywood Royalty without a kingdom--or even a condo--to call her own. This "Actorholic," who also suffers from "Career Deficit Disorder," is looking for more from life than what her famous last name has offered, namely her mother's last-season Chanel hand-me-downs and the lurking shadow of her father's fame. In her latest gig as a Hollywood ambassador, Lola's stepping out of her Louboutins and into fashion's ultimate combat boots to engage in LA's cruelest blood sport: convincing celebrities to wear an unknown designer's gowns to the Oscars.
Providing advice, emotional support, and even a new mantra or two are her BFF (Best Friend Forever) Kate Woods, an obsessively ambitious talent agent desperate to go from unter to über, and her BAF (Best Actress Forever) Cricket Curtis, a struggling up-and-comer trying to surpass her role as a coma victim on Grey's Anatomy and overcome one rejection after another to become the next Cameron Diaz or Nicole Kidman, or the next anybody. Together, they dodge fashion roadkill while navigating General Motors' Annual Fashion Show, the Gagosian dinner at Mr. Chow, and more. Ultimately, the week culminates at the über-exclusive Vanity Fair Oscar party, where the allotted time slot on your invitation marks how far in or out you really are. But who will be left standing with job, heart, and stilettos still intact at the after-after-Oscar party?
The authors, Hollywood kids themselves (Goldberg is the daughter of television producer Leonard Goldberg; Hopper's father is actor Dennis Hopper), have written a fun first novel starring Lola Santisi, a Hollywood princess who needs a purpose. On the night of the Academy Awards, Lola's emotionally isolated director father wins his second Oscar, but Lola is not having such a good evening. Actually, her whole life has gone wrong-from her widely panned turn as actress to her inability to resist narcissistic actors. Flash back to days before the Academy Awards, and Lola is determined to finally succeed. She's working for her BGF (best gay friend), a budding designer who needs stars modeling his dresses on the red carpet. Lola's last chance for a recruit is an almost psychotic Oscar nominee who refers to herself in the third person. But can Lola win the star over her arch nemesis, who's working for Prada? Tolerance for Hollywood excess, including Lola's own family and friends, is necessary to enjoy this book. It can even be difficult to empathize with Lola, whose worst day includes a free facial and designer clothes. But Peoplemagazine devotees should enjoy the fast pace, famous names, and designer everything. For popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ10/15/07.]
"Bermingham juggles the colorful cast of over-the-top characters in this gossipy tale with finesse." - Publishers Weekly
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Read an Excerpt
By Amanda Goldberg, Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2008 Twinheads LLC
All rights reserved.
1 hour, 22 minutes, 17 seconds since the last
Oscar was handed out for Best Picture of the Year.
"Paulie! Blanca! Lola! Christopher! Over here! How about one of the Santisi family all together!" the paparazzi shout as we're bathed in a meteor shower of flashing lights. It's blinding as we make our way down the photo-frenzied Red Carpet for Vanity Fair's annual post-Oscar bash — Hollywood's primo party of the year.
My mother tugs my older brother, Christopher, and me to her and shoots her husband a pleading look. "Please, Paulie, just one of the four of us," her blood red lips purr, her Mediterranean-colored eyes sparkling through the smoky Paris-runway-ready eye shadow that Frangois Nars himself applied not five hours ago at Villa Santisi. "We can put it on the Christmas card." Only my crazy Jewish mother would send out Christmas cards — from the VF RedCarpet. Even if we're not the perfect Norman Rockwell family, my mother would like us to pose for the cameras as if we were.
I swear my mother could stand here all night as if she'd won her own Oscar, pirouetting and fanning out the skirt of her shocking pink ruffled satin Chanel gown for the photographers, canting one olive Pilates'd thigh forward ("Slims the profile, Lola, you should try it"). Even the black diamond Neil Lane dragonfly pinning back her shoulder-length platinum hair seems to be begging for a photo. She's acting like she's back in Irving Penn's studio posing for one of the many 1970s Vogue covers she graced.
My father rolls his eyes. "Oh, all right, Blanca, just one," he says, and smoothes out the custom-tailored Armani, a gift from one Italian to another — except that my father isn't really Italian. He's from Georgia. And Jewish. As for our last name? He changed it from Sitowitz when he moved to Hollywood to be more like his idol Marcello Mastroianni, whom he also happened to resemble when he was young — and thin. Papa's tux is camouflaging the 250-pound girth he maintains, thanks to nightly veal parm and spaghetti and meatballs in his corner booth at Dan Tana's. Make that 260 pounds. Poor Papa's been eating for two — his anxiety and his ego — for the two-month countdown to the Academy Awards. He wraps one arm around my mother and gloatingly pumps his little gold statuette in the air as more flashbulbs explode in our faces.
"Smile," I hiss at Christopher as he slumps his lanky 6'1" frame against me. With his mop of mussed dark hair and the green Converse high-tops he's paired with his tux, my brother looks more like a member of the All-American Rejects or Panic! at the Disco than the director of their music videos. "Do it for Mom," I say as the photographers bathe us in another meteor shower.
Freeze frame on the snapshot of my family on the Red Carpet — and where do I fit in? The picture on the late-night Wirelmage log-on after the after-party tonight is going to reveal: Me, Lola Santisi, a twenty-six-year-old member of Hollywood Royalty without a kingdom — or even a condo — to call my own, who's 5'71/2" (in four-inch stilettos), shoved into a last-minute wardrobe emergency — a borrowed size zero beaded garnet dress that's two sizes too small, four inches too short, and makes me feel like the blond Ugly Betty.
"No more pictures," Papa declares. He waves the photographers away while he reaches into the inside pocket of his tux jacket for a celebratory contraband Cohiba Esplendido. He's choking that Best Directing Oscar around the neck like it might disappear if he doesn't hold tight enough.
Getting his second Little Gold Man after eighteen years (and after a string of box office failures and more gray in his beard than brown) is proof of what my father's believed since he was sixteen: He is the greatest living director. If tomorrow anyone's forgotten? He'll remind them.
I just wish my father loved me as much as that Oscar.
"I've got to get out of here," Christopher whispers. "See you inside." He disappears into the throng.
A photographer suddenly darts up to me in a low crouch after snapping 143 pictures of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck in a lip-lock. He must be a newbie if he's training his lens on me. No one's going to want any photo of me without my father. I freeze. Christ, no, not in this dress. I didn't have time to Polaroid.
Here it is straight: You never really know how you look until you see yourself in a photograph. That's why you should always Polaroid your party dress before you walk out the front door. You're in major denial if you think the mirror tells you the truth. A mirror is like a bad relationship. It reflects what it thinks you want in the moment, only to screw you with the truth later. I know. It hurts. And it never hurts more than on Oscar night.
Truth is, on my better days I'd rate myself at least an eight. Okay, so that would be walking down Main Street in Muskogee, Oklahoma. But we're in Hollywood. Here I'm about a six. Especially standing anywhere near Charlize Theron, who's ten paces ahead of us in a form-fitting ice blue satin organza and silk tulle Christian Dior heart-stopper. The chandelier diamond earrings tickling her bare shoulders are virtual flamethrowers, and the photographers are eating it up. She definitely Polaroided. And she gets to go home with Stuart Townsend.
I tug at the hem of my dress, willing it to grow, wishing I were wearing anything but this. All the false eyelashes, bronzing powder, and red lipstick in the world couldn't detract from this disaster. This makes Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction look like a walk on the Alexander McQueen runway. Not even a hot bath with Wayne Dyer on the iPod is going to alleviate the pain when I see those Wirelmage shots. These hand-sewn ruby beads completely clash with my purple eye shadow and my purple Louboutins, which so perfectly complemented the exquisite gown I was supposed to wear.
But nothing about this night — or this week — has turned out the way it was supposed to. I was supposed to get my Happy Hollywood Ending. My first and only Kate-Winslet-and-Leo-DiCaprio-in-Titanic kind of love — was supposed to be here with me. I feel like I've been stabbed in the chest with those YSL silver stilettos Nicole Kidman's wearing.
"Angelina! Brad! Angelina! Brad! Look over here! Just one more!" the paparazzi roar. Their booming, stadiumlike chant shifts from my family to the more impressive Mr. and Mrs. Jolie-Pitt, the top of the Hollywood food chain. Graydon Carter used this chain to create his Darwinian theory of staggered invitations for the post-Oscar party. The superior species gets the superior time slot. Angelina and Brad get in at 9:30 P.M., the winner of Best Achievement in Sound Mixing (no "plus one") at 11:30 P.M. and not one second before. At least she and her Oscar weren't relegated to Elton John's viewing party at the Pacific Design Center with Paula Abdul and John Stamos. The day the invitations go out, everyone in Hollywood obsesses about whether they'll make the list and the most coveted time slots. For the record, my invitation reads 9:30. Okay, so it has nothing to do with my first name and everything to do with my last. But it sure beats watching Barbara Walters' Oscar Special in your Wonder Woman pajamas with that pint of freezer-burned Haagen-Dazs. Or does it?
My mouth is throbbing from smiling as we walk through the front door of Morton's. I'm desperate to free my hair from this facelift-tight chignon, grab a glass of bubbly, and find Kate, my BFF. The thought of braving this party all alone and without some liquid courage and my best friend is inconceivable. Kate's an 11:00 — but surely they'll let her in early. Her red-hot client Will Bailey, a 9:30, just snagged the Best Actor Oscar tonight.
I don't know how I'll ever find Kate; Morton's is a mob scene. Every presenter, winner, and even the losers are here. Even if the fire marshal shuts off the electricity, J-Lo's two hundred carats of borrowed Fred Leighton diamonds will keep The place lit up. I maneuver through the smiling faces of Ang Lee, Al Gore, and Sandra Bullock, who are swarming my father while Mom beams proudly by his side.
Graydon Carter, the Vanity Fair man himself, is holding court in the center of the room. G. C.'s winged haircut is so impressive that it looks like Robert Graham sculpted it. "It's not who you say 'yes' to, it's who you say 'no' to," I overhear Graydon Carter say to Kelly Lynch (a card-carrying member of the G. C. Inner Circle). G. C. is very good at saying no. InStyle may have featured your five-million-dollar wedding at the Cipriani in Venice, but if your megastar other half is on location shooting in Toronto, forget about coming solo to this party. Think Russell Crowe's wife. (Don't worry, I don't know her name either.) Fax a headshot and resume and send a 450-dollar Hermes ashtray and the answer is still no. Nope. No way. Not that it stops people from trying. G. C. reportedly even said no to one desperate wannabe guest who offered him a hundred grand for an 11:30 P.M. invite. The VF party is harder to crash than the presidential inauguration — though I don't know why anyone would want to go to that.
I squeeze by super-agent Ed Limato chatting up David Beckham and duck past Sir Elton. Guess even E. J. would rather be here than at his own party. As I dart by Dominick Dunne and Jessica Simpson deep in conversation, I hear him patiently explaining to her, "No, dear, you won't catch the Avian flu by drinking Evian water."
"Lola!" I spin around to find a certain Teenage Movie Queen, whose proclivity for hitting the hotspots sans panties has given her a second crown: Queen of the Noonie Moonie. She's placed her chipped Black Satin Chanel fingernails on my naked shoulder. At least she's no longer scarily skeletal after that unfortunate diet Death Spiral. Though she is a radioactive Day-Glo orange, another victim of the spray-on sickness that plagues celebrities during Awards season. "Great dress," she says with an aspartame smile.
"Thanks," I say, feeling a glimmer of prettiness rush through me. Maybe those Wirelmage photos won't be so bad after all
"Couldn't they make it in your size?" Don't let it in. Do not let it in. The Teen Queen's flaxen hair extensions flick me in the eye as she barrels toward one of the few people past third grade that this dress would actually fit'her sidekick Nicole Richie — who's thumbing away on her Swarovski'd Motorola Sidekick.
Two piercing wails split the air: Madonna and Gwyneth's shrieks of panic when they see each other in the same shade of red. Stylists' heads will roll tomorrow. The screeching nearly makes me crash into Penelope Cruz, who's throwing rapid fire-Spanish in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu's direction.
Penelope's face is pure Sophia Loren in Two Women. She must have stopped by the Soho House for one of their free Diamond Facial Acupuncture Treatments. No one wakes up looking like Sophia Loren. Not even Sophia Loren.
"Lola, get your ass over here!" I'd recognize that gravely voice anywhere. That crazy hair. That grin. Those dark old-school tortoiseshell Ray-Bans. I swear they're the same pair Uncle Jon wore to Passover dinner when I was eight. He's the only man in Hollywood who actually looks cool wearing sunglasses at night. He summons me with a magisterial wave from the prime-positioned booth at the front of the restaurant.
"I hate these fucking things," Uncle J whispers in my ear as he stands up to give me a hug.
"Yeah, unless you have a new gold man to add to the three you already have above the toilet," I whisper back.
"And now your dad has two. I always knew Paulie Santisi would be back on top. Come give your uncle some sugar." Hollywood's most famous satyr pulls me in for a kiss. At least this time Uncle J, who, I need hardly add, is no uncle of mine, keeps his tongue to himself. He makes space for me beside him next to Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, who are on their third order of sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice cream. B. D. and D. V. F. got the next best thing to a little gold statue tonight. They're among the 170 Carterwinian "naturally selected" A+++ specimens who were invited to watch the Awards over dinner at 5:30 P.M. The first and most touted time slot of the evening goes to those alphas not attending the Oscars, like Annette Bening and Sumner Redstone. They get to take home one of the light-up glass dome centerpieces etched with "Vanity Fair" to put on top of their toilets.
D. V. F. offers me a bite of pudding.
"I'm off refined sugar," I say.
"Aren't we all," she says, putting a heaping spoonful into her mouth. "We are so thrilled for your father, dear," she adds as she pushes the pudding toward me. It's easy to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day during Oscar Week. It's the same people, same conversations, only different designer outfits. We were at Barry and Diane's house just yesterday for their annual pre-Oscar brunch, where D. V. F. was dragging my father back and forth like a pull toy across the lawn from Nic Cage's table to Naomi Watts's.
I spot a small gray notebook on the table tucked between an ostrich Judith Leiber pouch and the square sterling silver rose centerpiece. I flip it open. There's a silver pencil tucked inside so each guest can vote for their picks while watching the Awards during dinner. I turn to the "Best Achievement in Directing" page. Someone has passed over my father's name and has checked the small box next to Clint Eastwood's. I tear out the page and shove it into my Bottega python clutch. Can't you just see it in the family scrapbook?
I imagine the primo diners chomping on the ritzy restaurant's popular mache salad — sliced New York steak with French fries, haricots verts, and shiitake risotto — as they placed their wagers. Did any of G.C.'s Table One dinner guests lobby for my father? Surely B. D. and D.V.F. did, right? I envision Ronald Perelman lighting Amber Valletta's cigarette with one of the silver VF-engraved Dunhill lighters as he brags to Fran Leibowitz that Clint was just at his house in East Hampton. I can hear the sighs of disappointment that came from this booth when Julia Roberts read my father's name.
I contemplate reaching across to the adjacent booth to see if Francis Ford Coppola, Larry David, or Anderson Cooper checked my father's name. It's a good thing the dinner tables are being whisked away or I'd be running from table to table stealing voting books.
There's that waiter with my champagne. I lift the glass to my lips as I glance up at one of the plasma screens televising the arriving celebrity circus outside. My glass shatters on the terracotta tile floor.
SMITH'S face accosts me from the big screen. He's flashing the photogs that smile that caused People magazine to name him their "Sexiest Man in the Hemisphere" (although that's such a mouthful I just call him S.M.I.T.H). He used to train that smile on me. Before he demolished my heart and gave the tabloids their heartiest meal since poor Britney's razor rash.
Oh God. Oh no. He's with HER. And they're — KISSING. I can't breathe. I'm going to be sick. After what happened four hours ago, I thought I'd be ready, but I'm not. I contemplate licking the champagne off the floor near Rachel Weisz's beaded Blahniks, but don't want to look too needy. SMITH and HER are everywhere. No matter which direction I turn, there's another plasma screen projecting their nauseatingly famous faces. I'm Alice riding the spinning teacups, and the ride is spinning faster and faster.
I feel the full frontal humiliation of an attack of the Unworthies coming on. You know, that horrible, sickening, sinking feeling that everyone on the planet is prettier, smarter, sexier, funnier, and better dressed than you. The Unworthies go into overdrive during public breakups (and with TMZ.com, is any breakup not public in Hollywood? Including my own?), box office duds, and birthdays, and they're positively rampant during Oscar Week. Symptoms include overdoses of Botox, Kabbalah, photo ops, couture, and Ativan, but I prefer the good old-fashioned assumption of the fetal position. I cast about wildly for something to keep me off that cold floor; my gown would clash terribly with the burnt orange tiles. I down Uncle J's scotch and water to stem the tide.
"Honey, you okay?" Uncle J covers my hand with his own. "You look kinda pale."
"I'm fine, Uncle J," I stammer. "I'm just going to make the rounds and get some air, you know?"
Uncle J glances up at the plasma screen, looks back at me, then arches that famous eyebrow and grins. "Lola, the only people you should ever lie to are the cops and your boyfriend," he tells me. "Take care of yourself, honey, and tell your father I love him." An unidentified brunette sidles up to him as I make my getaway.
Excerpted from Celebutantes by Amanda Goldberg, Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper. Copyright © 2008 Twinheads LLC. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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