Hollywood Husbands

( 5 )

Overview

Hollywood Husbands are hot...Hollywood Husbands are
dynamic...Hollywood Husbands are sexy...

Jack Python is the hottest Hollywood Husband of all. He rules
nighttime T.V. and his controversial talk show ...

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Overview

Hollywood Husbands are hot...Hollywood Husbands are
dynamic...Hollywood Husbands are sexy...

Jack Python is the hottest Hollywood Husband of all. He rules
nighttime T.V. and his controversial talk show burns up the ratings, while the
women he encounters melt. With one expensive divorce behind him, and involved
in a highly erotic affair with Oscar-winning actress Clarissa Browning, Jack
Python has power, charisma, success, and money. But sometimes everything isn't
enough.

Howard Soloman, head of Orpheus Studios, is the
man, the Hollywood King. Anything Howard wants, he gets. Including
women. The sweet smell of power and Howard's street-smart style reels them
in. Working for billionaire studio owner Zachary Klinger, a man with a whim of
iron, Howard has problems enough. And if Howard can't deliver daytime soap
megastar Silver Anderson at Klinger's command, he may lose his footing at the
top of the heap. Though in Hollywood it's said that when you fall, you fall up
— from the top Howard has nowhere to go but down.

Mannon Cable is a superstar. With great looks and a body to
match, he is full of self-deprecating charm. Married briefly to gorgeous
Whitney Valentine, who left him to become a television superstar, he was hit by
the divorce where it really hurts — his giant ego.

Jack Python, Howard Soloman, and Mannon Cable have been competitive friends for
years. Yet when Jade Johnson enters their lives, the least-expected one of the
self-styled "Three Comers" may have finally met his match.

Jade Johnson is a woman of the eighties. Strong, independent, a
top New York model, she comes to L.A. for a series of million-dollar TV
commercials. Jade is a dangerously beautiful woman with personal integrity and
a mind of her own. The Hollywood game fails to impress her, but slowly, surely,
she is sucked in. And, high roller that she is, if she must play, Jade will play to win.

HOLLYWOOD WIVES,with its ten-million copy sales, and its
spectacular success as a television mini-series, left Jackie Collins' devoted
audience avid for the other side of the story.

NOW


HOLLYWOOD HUSBANDS


GO ALL THE WAY!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As in Hollywood Wives, Collins (Lucky colorfully depicts the brash hedonists of Tinseltown, most of whom are motivated by avarice, lust and conceit. The central trio in this lengthy saga consists of movie star Mannon Cable, studio executive Howard Soloman and TV talk-show host Jack Python. Although Mannon has married compliant young Melanie-Shanna, he vows to win back his ex-wife, Whitney. Cocaine addict Howard pursues Whitney though he is wed to a gossipy society gadabout. Jack courts an illustrious actress, but he becomes infatuated with Jade Johnson, a willowy, self-possessed model. Jack's sister, imperious soap-opera star Silver Anderson, doesn't know that her lover is desperately trying to extricate himself from a potentially lethal business deal. While these escapades unfold, we must guess which female was a sexually abused arsonist in the 1970s. Collins's devotees will probably relish the snappy dialogue, whirlwind pacing, irreverent humor and opulent locales that are her trademarks. Others will find, however, that this book's cliched characters and repetitive plot soon grow tiresome. Major ad/promo; paperback rights to Pocket Books; author tour. (October 15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451655568
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 5/16/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 945,332
  • Product dimensions: 1.25 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 8.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jackie Collins

There have been many imitators, but only Jackie Collins can tell you what really goes on in the fastest lane of all. From Beverly Hills bedrooms to a raunchy prowl along the streets of Hollywood; from glittering rock parties and concerts to stretch limos and the mansions of power brokers—Jackie Collins chronicles the real truth from the inside looking out.

Jackie Collins has been called a “raunchy moralist” by the late director Louis Malle and “Hollywood’s own Marcel Proust” by Vanity Fair magazine. With more than 500 million copies of her books sold in more than forty countries, and with some thirty New York Times bestsellers to her credit, Jackie Collins is one of the world’s top-selling novelists. She is known for giving her readers an unrivaled insider’s knowledge of Hollywood and the glamorous lives and loves of the rich, famous, and infamous. “I write about real people in disguise,” she says. “If anything, my characters are toned down—the truth is much more bizarre.”

Visit Jackie’s website www.jackiecollins.com, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter at JackieJCollins, Facebook at www.facebook.com/jackiecollins and Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/jackiejcollins.

Biography

Louis Malle may have branded Jackie Collins a "raunchy moralist," but it wasn't her sense of ethical propriety that had her in a snit when Kenneth Starr dutifully reported to the nation the details of the pseudo-coupling between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. It was her literary pride. "Everybody said that the Monica Lewinsky stuff in the Starr report was like a Jackie Collins book," she told the Chicago Tribune in 2001, "but if I'd written it, the sex would have been better."

Unquestionably. Jacqueline Susann may be the Emily Bronte of the naughty bits, but Collins is surely Charlotte, having filled her books to the rim with skin since her first novel The World Is Full of Married Men appeared in 1968. Since then, there has been a string of sexy Hollywood moguls, sexy models, sexy wives of Hollywood moguls, sexy divorcées and sexy children of Hollywood moguls in such titles as Chances, Lucky and Throb as well as The Bitch and The Stud (both made into movies starring big sister Joan).

The critics, when they take notice at all, tend to sniff. ("While no one expects Lady Boss to be a literary banquet, certainly a yummy little snack is in order" is about the best to expect from The New York Times.) But those who can look past the satin sheets and champagne flutes see more going on in the Collins canon. Hers is a dissection of the vacuous, viperish entertainment class hiding behind designer sunglasses in Los Angeles. Vanity Fair called her "Hollywood's own Marcel Proust.” The Advocate hinted that she might be the Charles Dickens of Beverly Hills. And Joe Queenan, a Hollywood player himself, said Collins's 1993 novel American Star was nothing less than a lament of the American family's demise.

"It would be easy to self-righteously label this book trashy and worthless -- but it's not entirely either," the Detroit News wrote in a review of Collins's 1983 novel Hollywood Wives. "Jackie Collins has a talent for titillation and a knack for wooing the most reluctant of readers into a plot that spends 15 percent of the time peeking at people in the sack and the other 85 percent daydreaming about it. Deliberately or not, she speaks eloquently of emptiness through the lives of people who would seem to have everything: French poodles, Mexican maids, American Express."

And Judy Bass wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Collins's gimlet eye for detail is what makes her novels such a gas: "Collins caricatures the life styles of the rich and famous with devastating accuracy. She spoofs every nuance of their attire, speech and relationships, never allowing tedium or predictability to dilute the reader's fun."

There are a number of recurring characters in Collins's books, though none better known than Lucky Santangelo, the sexy (natch) film studio owner who has appeared in Lucky, Lady Boss, Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge and Dangerous Kiss. The Lucky series bring together all the required ingredients of a Collins cocktail: the rich and famous, the shifty Hollywood shenanigans, scheming opportunists and a bug-on-the-wall vantage point of every -- or every other -- bedroom in the 90210 zip code.

Time once wrote of a Collins novel that it allowed the reader the rare opportunity to watch adverbs mate. Of course. There's a high art to the lowbrow. The Village Voice, writing in 2000, understood that: "The beauty of the trashy novel is twofold: It's a lightning-quick read, and you can howl in smug superiority as you turn the pages. Lethal Seduction, the latest from well-appointed and leopard-print-swathed Queen of Trash Jackie Collins, is a prime example of page-turning, literary-hauteur-stoking fun."

But it might have been People, reviewing Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge, that most succinctly summed up the contradictory seductiveness of the Jackie Collins novel: "embarrassing to pick up, impossible to put down."

Good To Know

Collins makes a mean meatloaf. "It's the herbs and spices," she told Biography magazine, "and my essence."

Collins spends about a year writing each novel, and does so entirely in longhand.

She eschews the stodgy demands of grammar. "I don't basically understand grammar," she is quoted as saying in Contemporary Popular Writers. "I call myself a street writer. I write purely by instinct. I've decided people don't speak in grammatical conversations.... The important thing is I get people into the bookstores who probably wouldn't be there otherwise."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jacqueline Jill Collins (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 4, 1941
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One:

Jack Python walked through the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel with every
eye upon him. He bad money, charisma, a certain kind of power, razor-sharp wit,
and fame. It all showed.

He was six feet tall with virile good looks. Thick black hair worn just a tad
too long, penetrating green eyes, a two-day stubble on a deep suntan, and a
hard body. He was thirty-nine years old and he had the world by the balls.

Jack Python was one of the most famous talk show hosts in America.

"Hello, Jack," cooed a voluptuous woman sprayed into a tennis minidress.

He smiled his killer smile — he had great teeth. Looked her over
appreciatively, knowing eyes sweeping every curve. Standard greeting, "How's it
going?"

She would have been happy to tell him, but be didn't break stride, just kept
walking toward the Polo Lounge.

Several more people greeted him along the way. Two tourists paused to stare,
and a very thin girl in a red tank top waved. Jack did not stop until be
reached his destination. Table number one, a cozy leather booth directly facing
the entrance of the Polo lounge.

A man was already seated there — a man with a slightly manic look, clad in
white sweats, black Porsche shades, and a Dodgers baseball cap. Jack slid in
beside him. "Hiya, Howard," be said.

"Hiya, Jack," Howard Soloman replied with a wink. There was something about the
perpetual motion of his features that gave him a crazed look. He was always
mugging, crossing his eyes, sucking in his cheeks. In repose be was quite nice
looking — the face of a Jewish doctor who had strayed into the wrong business.
However, his constant mugging gave the impression be didn't want anyone to find
out. "What was the action last night?" he asked, restlessly rimming the top of
his glass with a nervous index finger.

"You've been to one screening at the Goosebergers' house, you've been to 'em
all," Jack replied easily.

"Good movie?"

"Lousy movie."

"I coulda told you that," Howard said smugly.

"Why didn't you, then?"

Howard took a gulp of hot coffee. "Adventure is finding out for yourself."

Jack laughed. "According to you no movie is any good unless it comes from your
studio."

Howard licked his lips and rolled his eyes. "You'd better believe it."

"So invite me to one of your screenings."

"I always invite you," Howard replied indignantly. "Is it my fault you
never show? Poppy's insulted."

"That's because Clarissa has very particular taste," Jack explained patiently.
"Unless it's a film she's been offered and turned down, or unless she's
actually in it, she has no desire to see it."

"Actresses!" Howard spat.

'Tell me about 'em," agreed Jack, ordering Perrier and two eggs over easy.

Saturday morning breakfast at the Polo lounge bad once been a ritual for Jack
and Howard and Mannon Cable, the movie star, who had yet to appear. Now they
were all too busy, and it was a rare occasion when they were able to sit down
to breakfast together.

Howard headed Orpheus Studios, a recent appointment and one be relished.
Heading a studio had always been his big ambition, and now be was there, king
of the whole fucking heap — while it lasted. For Howard, like everyone else in
Hollywood, realized that being a studio head was an extremely precarious
occupation, and the position of great and mighty power could be snatched away
at any given moment by faceless corporate executives who ran the film industry
like a bank. Being a studio head was the treacherous no-man's-land between
high-powered agent and independent producer. The saving speech of every deposed
studio head was: "I need more creativity. My talent is stifled here. Too much
to do and too little time. We're parting amicably. I'm going into indie prod."
In the industry, indie prod (independent production, to the uninitiated) equals
out on your ass. Canned. Can't cut it. Tough shit. Don't call us we'll call
you. And so... most indie prods faded into oblivion after one failed
movie.

Howard Soloman knew this only too well, and it scared him. He had struggled too
long and too hard to allow it to happen to him. The one consolation be could
think of was at least when you failed in Hollywood you failed up. Out at one
studio — in at another The old pals act reigned supreme Also, he was lucky.
Zachery K. Klinger, the multipowerful magnate, owned Orpheus. And Zachary
personally had hired him.

Tapping the tabletop with bitten-to-the-quick nails, be said, "Since Clarissa
wasn't in the goddamn movie, I guess it was one she vetoed. Right?"

"Her decision made her very happy last night," Jack replied gravely.
"Terms of Endearment it wasn't." He extracted a pair of heavy
horn-rim glasses from his top pocket and put them on. He didn't need them to
see, but as far as be was concerned they took the curse off his good looks. So
did the two-day growth of stubble he carefully cultivated.

Jack did not realize the glasses and the incipient beard made him all the more
attractive to women. Ah... women... the story of his life. Who would
have thought in seventh grade that shy and studious Jack Python would have
developed into one of the great lovers of the century? He couldn't help the
effect he had on women. One penetrating glance and they were his. No rock star
had a better track record.

Not that Jack went out chasing. It had never been necessary. From the onset of
puberty and his first conquest at fifteen, women had fallen across his path
with monotonous regularity. Most of his life be bad indulged shamelessly. One,
two, three a week. Who counted? A brief marriage at twenty-five barely stopped
him in his tracks. Only luck and a certain sixth sense had prevented him from
catching various sexual diseases. Of course now, in the eighties, it was only
prudent to be more careful. Plus be felt a more serious image was in order, and
for a year be had been desperately trying to live down his loverboy reputation.
Hence his relationship with Clarissa Browning. Clarissa was a serious actress
with a capital S. She had won an Oscar and been nominated twice. No bimbette
movie star she.

"I'd like to get Clarissa to do a film for Orpheus," Howard said, chewing on a
roll.

"Have you anything in mind?"

"Whatever she wants. She's the star." Reaching for the butter, he added, "Why
don't you tell her to call me direct. if I operate through her schmuck agent,
nothing'll get done." He nodded, pleased with his own idea. "Clarissa can
whisper in my ear what she wants to do, and then I'll do the dance of a
thousand agents."

"Why don't you phone her?" Jack suggested.

Howard hadn't thought of anything as simple as that "Would she mind?"

"I don't think for her. Give it a shot."

"That's not a bad idea...." His attention wandered. "Christ!" he exclaimed
"Will ya Look at that ass!"

Jack cast an appraising glance at a very impressive rear end clad in tight
white pants exiting the Polo Lounge. Recognizing the sway, he smiled to himself
— Chica Hernandez — Queen of the Mexican soaps. He would know that sway
anywhere, although he didn't let on to Howard. Kiss and tell had never been his
style. Let the tabloids guess their smutty little hearts out. Jack never
boasted about his many conquests, even though it drove Howard and the other
guys crazy. They wanted names and details, and all they got was a smile and a
discreet silence.

Since his year-long affair with Clarissa there wasn't much to tell. A couple of
production assistants, an enthusiastic bit-part actress, a Eurasian model. All
one-night stands. As far as he was concerned he had been scrupulously faithful.
Well, with a woman like Clarissa Browning in your life, you couldn't be too
careful. Their romance was headlines; be had to watch his every move.

Jack Python was smart, charming, a concerned citizen interested in maybe
pursuing a political career one day. (Hey — remember Reagan?) And although he
understood women very well — or thought he did — he still believed
(subliminally, of course) in the old double standard. It was okay for him to indulge in the
occasional indiscretion; after all, a quick lay meant nothing to a man. But God
forbid Clarissa ever did it.

Not that she would. Jack knew for sure.

"Faster!" gasped Clarissa Browning fervently. "Come on! Faster!"

The young actor on top of her obliged. Although in shock, be was managing to
perform nevertheless. Well, he was twenty-three years old, and at twenty-three
a hard-on is only a hand-shake away.

Clarissa Browning had done more than shake his hand. Shortly after their first
meeting on the set of the film they were appearing in together, she had
requested his presence in her dressing room. He went willingly. Clarissa was a
star, and this was only his second movie.

She offered him a glass of white wine and a pep talk about his role. Even
though it was only ten o'clock in the morning he accepted both gratefully.
Then, in clipped tones, pushing strands of brown hair away from her delicate
but interesting features, she said, "You do know that on film reality is the
core of everything."

He nodded respectfully.

"You play my lover," she said. Clarissa was twenty-nine years old, with a long
face, limpid eyes, a nose just saved from being too long, and a thin line of a
mouth. In life she received no awards for beauty. However, she had proved more
than once that her ordinary looks created incandescent magic in front of a
camera.

"I'm looking forward to it," the young actor said enthusiastically.

"So am I," she replied evenly. "Realize, though, that anticipation is not
enough. When we interact on screen it has to be real. We have to generate
excitement and passion and longing. She paused. He coughed. "So,"
she continued matter-of-factly. "I believe in working our roles through
before we get in front of the camera. That way we are never caught with
our pants down — metaphorically speaking, of course."

He tried for a laugh and wondered why he was beginning to perspire.

"Let's make love and get it out of the way," she said, her intense brown eyes
challenging his.

Who was be to argue? He forgot about his California blond perfect girlfriend
with thirty-six-inch boobs and the longest legs in town.

Clarissa reached over, unzipped his levi's, and they went to work. Even though
he was shell-shocked to be sticking it to Clarissa Browning. The Clarissa
Browning. Who would believe it?

When they were finished she said briskly, "Now we'll both be able to
concentrate and make an excellent film. Just know your lines backwards. Listen
to our admirable director, and become the character you're playing.
Live the role. I'll see you on the set."

Just like that, he was dismissed.

As the young actor left her dressing room, Clarissa reached for a thermos of
vegetable juice and poured herself a small glass of the nourishing liquid. She
sipped it thoughtfully. Interaction with her fellow actors, that's what real
theater was all about. Making love to the young man had put him at ease, given
him the confidence be would need for the difficult role. He would no longer be
in awe of her — Clarissa Browning, Oscar-winning actress. He would see her as
a passionate woman, flesh and blood, and react accordingly. This was crucial,
although some people would think she was mad if she confided that she always
made love to her on-screen lovers.

She sipped her juice reflectively. It worked. And she had an Oscar to prove
it.

Jack Python would throw a fit if be ever found out. Macho chauvinist. All-made
stud. Did be honestly believe she didn't know about his little dalliances?

She laughed quietly to herself. Jack Python — the man with the wandering...

Ah, well... as long as it didn't wander too far. Right now it suited her to
have Jack as her permanent lover. Who knew what the future held?

"I got a friggin' heart palpitation yesterday," Howard Soloman announced with a
grim expression.

"What?" Jack wasn't quite sure he'd heard correctly.

"My friggin' heart," Howard continued in outraged tones, "started bouncin'
around like a Ping-Pong ball."

Jack had long ago decided Howard was a hypochondriac and changed the subject.
"Where's Mannon?" he asked. "Is he coming?"

"Mannon would come every day of his life if he could," Howard said slyly.

"We all know that," Jack agreed.

Mannon Cable — movie star, director, producer, hot property (in Hollywood when
you're hot you're hot — when you're not you may as well be dead) made his
entrance. Like Jack before him, he caused every pair of eyes to swivel to get a
better look. In fact, Mannon actually stopped conversation. He was handsome. If
you threw Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, and Paul Newman into a blender, you
would come up with Mannon Cable. His eyes were cobalt blue. His skin sun-kissed
to a sexy leather brown. His hair a dark dirty blond. His body powerful. Six
feet four inches. "Every inch a winner," he would mock when he made frequent
guest appearances on the Carson show.

He was forty-two years old. Fit. Fast. And right up there box-office-wise with
Stallone and Eastwood. Mannon Cable was hitting a peak.

"Hey — I'm one hungry sonofabitch," he said, sliding into the booth. He grinned.
He had the I am a big movie star grin down pat. He also bad a great set
of caps (lost the shine on his originals when he labored as a stuntman for a
couple of years), which enabled him to grin from here to eternity without any
trouble at all. "What are y'all eating?"

"Eggs," replied Jack, stating the obvious.

"Looks like a couple of fried-egg tits to me." Mannon laughed.

"Everything looks like tits to you," Jack replied. "You should see a shrink,
you've got big problems."

Mannon roared. "The only big problem I've got is my dick. You
should have such problems." He signaled the waiter and proceeded to order
an enormous breakfast.

Jack stared at Mannon and Howard. Sometimes he wondered why the three of them
remained friends. They were all so different now. And yet, whenever he got to
thinking about it, he knew why. The truth was they were brothers under the
skin, sharing their pasts. They had made it to the top together, and nobody could
split them up — although many a wife and girlfriend had tried.

Howard had gone through three wives, and was currently on his fourth, the
curvaceous Poppy. He had children everywhere. Mannon was still carrying a torch
for his first wife, Whitney, and the new one, Melanie-Shanna, had not yet
killed the flame. Jack had Clarissa, although deep down he knew she wasn't the
right woman for him — a knowledge he refused to admit.

"I've got a great idea," Manson said suddenly. "Why don't we fly down to Vegas
next month? Just the three of us. We never get to see each other anymore. We
could play the tables, raise hell, cause some trouble, just like old tunes.
Whaddya say?"

"Without the wives?" Howard asked hopefully.

"You bet your cojones without the wives," Mannon said quickly.

"We'll drop 'em off at Neiman's — they'll never even notice we're gone."

Mugging excitedly, Howard said, "I like the idea," forgetting that Poppy would
singe his balls if he tried to go away without her. This one was a clinger, as
opposed to the three before her who were strictly takers.

"How about it, Jack?" Mannon looked at his friend expectantly.

Jack had promised Clarissa a week in New York. Long walks through the Village.
Off-Broadway theater. Never-ending dinners with her strange, broke friends.
Guess who would pick up the check.

He hated walking, only liked movies, and her so-called friends were a pain in
the ass.

"Yes," he said. "Set it up. Work permitting, you can definitely include me in."

Copyright © 1986 by Jackie Collins

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter One:

Jack Python walked through theye upon him. He bad money, charisma, a certain kind of power, razor-sharp wit, and fame. It all showed.

He was six feet tall with virile good looks. Thick black hair worn just a tad too long, penetrating green eyes, a two-day stubble on a deep suntan, and a hard body. He was thirty-nine years old and he had the world by the balls.

Jack Python was one of the most famous talk show hosts in America.

"Hello, Jack," cooed a voluptuous woman sprayed into a tennis minidress.

He smiled his killer smile -- he had great teeth. Looked her over appreciatively, knowing eyes sweeping every curve. Standard greeting, "How's it going?"

She would have been happy to tell him, but be didn't break stride, just kept walking toward the Polo Lounge.

Several more people greeted him along the way. Two tourists paused to stare, and a very thin girl in a red tank top waved. Jack did not stop until be reached his destination. Table number one, a cozy leather booth directly facing the entrance of the Polo lounge.

A man was already seated there -- a man with a slightly manic look, clad in white sweats, black Porsche shades, and a Dodgers baseball cap. Jack slid in beside him. "Hiya, Howard," be said.

"Hiya, Jack," Howard Soloman replied with a wink. There was something about the perpetual motion of his features that gave him a crazed look. He was always mugging, crossing his eyes, sucking in his cheeks. In repose be was quite nice looking -- the face of a Jewish doctor who had strayed into the wrong business. However, his constant mugging gave the impression be didn't want anyone to find out. "What was the action last night?" he asked, restlessly rimming the top of his glass with a nervous index finger.

"You've been to one screening at the Goosebergers' house, you've been to 'em all," Jack replied easily.

"Good movie?"

"Lousy movie."

"I coulda told you that," Howard said smugly.

"Why didn't you, then?"

Howard took a gulp of hot coffee. "Adventure is finding out for yourself."

Jack laughed. "According to you no movie is any good unless it comes from your studio."

Howard licked his lips and rolled his eyes. "You'd better believe it."

"So invite me to one of your screenings."

"I always invite you," Howard replied indignantly. "Is it my fault you never show? Poppy's insulted."

"That's because Clarissa has very particular taste," Jack explained patiently. "Unless it's a film she's been offered and turned down, or unless she's actually in it, she has no desire to see it."

"Actresses!" Howard spat.

'Tell me about 'em," agreed Jack, ordering Perrier and two eggs over easy.

Saturday morning breakfast at the Polo lounge bad once been a ritual for Jack and Howard and Mannon Cable, the movie star, who had yet to appear. Now they were all too busy, and it was a rare occasion when they were able to sit down to breakfast together.

Howard headed Orpheus Studios, a recent appointment and one be relished. Heading a studio had always been his big ambition, and now be was there, king of the whole fucking heap -- while it lasted. For Howard, like everyone else in Hollywood, realized that being a studio head was an extremely precarious occupation, and the position of great and mighty power could be snatched away at any given moment by faceless corporate executives who ran the film industry like a bank. Being a studio head was the treacherous no-man's-land between high-powered agent and independent producer. The saving speech of every deposed studio head was: "I need more creativity. My talent is stifled here. Too much to do and too little time. We're parting amicably. I'm going into indie prod." In the industry, indie prod (independent production, to the uninitiated) equals out on your ass. Canned. Can't cut it. Tough shit. Don't call us we'll call you. And so... most indie prods faded into oblivion after one failed movie.

Howard Soloman knew this only too well, and it scared him. He had struggled too long and too hard to allow it to happen to him. The one consolation be could think of was at least when you failed in Hollywood you failed up. Out at one studio -- in at another The old pals act reigned supreme Also, he was lucky. Zachery K. Klinger, the multipowerful magnate, owned Orpheus. And Zachary personally had hired him.

Tapping the tabletop with bitten-to-the-quick nails, be said, "Since Clarissa wasn't in the goddamn movie, I guess it was one she vetoed. Right?"

"Her decision made her very happy last night," Jack replied gravely. "Terms of Endearment it wasn't." He extracted a pair of heavy horn-rim glasses from his top pocket and put them on. He didn't need them to see, but as far as be was concerned they took the curse off his good looks. So did the two-day growth of stubble he carefully cultivated.

Jack did not realize the glasses and the incipient beard made him all the more attractive to women. Ah... women... the story of his life. Who would have thought in seventh grade that shy and studious Jack Python would have developed into one of the great lovers of the century? He couldn't help the effect he had on women. One penetrating glance and they were his. No rock star had a better track record.

Not that Jack went out chasing. It had never been necessary. From the onset of puberty and his first conquest at fifteen, women had fallen across his path with monotonous regularity. Most of his life be bad indulged shamelessly. One, two, three a week. Who counted? A brief marriage at twenty-five barely stopped him in his tracks. Only luck and a certain sixth sense had prevented him from catching various sexual diseases. Of course now, in the eighties, it was only prudent to be more careful. Plus be felt a more serious image was in order, and for a year be had been desperately trying to live down his loverboy reputation. Hence his relationship with Clarissa Browning. Clarissa was a serious actress with a capital S. She had won an Oscar and been nominated twice. No bimbette movie star she.

"I'd like to get Clarissa to do a film for Orpheus," Howard said, chewing on a roll.

"Have you anything in mind?"

"Whatever she wants. She's the star." Reaching for the butter, he added, "Why don't you tell her to call me direct. if I operate through her schmuck agent, nothing'll get done." He nodded, pleased with his own idea. "Clarissa can whisper in my ear what she wants to do, and then I'll do the dance of a thousand agents."

"Why don't you phone her?" Jack suggested.

Howard hadn't thought of anything as simple as that "Would she mind?"

"I don't think for her. Give it a shot."

"That's not a bad idea...." His attention wandered. "Christ!" he exclaimed "Will ya Look at that ass!"

Jack cast an appraising glance at a very impressive rear end clad in tight white pants exiting the Polo Lounge. Recognizing the sway, he smiled to himself -- Chica Hernandez -- Queen of the Mexican soaps. He would know that sway anywhere, although he didn't let on to Howard. Kiss and tell had never been his style. Let the tabloids guess their smutty little hearts out. Jack never boasted about his many conquests, even though it drove Howard and the other guys crazy. They wanted names and details, and all they got was a smile and a discreet silence.

Since his year-long affair with Clarissa there wasn't much to tell. A couple of production assistants, an enthusiastic bit-part actress, a Eurasian model. All one-night stands. As far as he was concerned he had been scrupulously faithful. Well, with a woman like Clarissa Browning in your life, you couldn't be too careful. Their romance was headlines; be had to watch his every move.

Jack Python was smart, charming, a concerned citizen interested in maybe pursuing a political career one day. (Hey -- remember Reagan?) And although he understood women very well -- or thought he did -- he still believed (subliminally, of course) in the old double standard. It was okay for him to indulge in the occasional indiscretion; after all, a quick lay meant nothing to a man. But God forbid Clarissa ever did it.

Not that she would. Jack knew for sure.

"Faster!" gasped Clarissa Browning fervently. "Come on! Faster!"

The young actor on top of her obliged. Although in shock, be was managing to perform nevertheless. Well, he was twenty-three years old, and at twenty-three a hard-on is only a hand-shake away.

Clarissa Browning had done more than shake his hand. Shortly after their first meeting on the set of the film they were appearing in together, she had requested his presence in her dressing room. He went willingly. Clarissa was a star, and this was only his second movie.

She offered him a glass of white wine and a pep talk about his role. Even though it was only ten o'clock in the morning he accepted both gratefully. Then, in clipped tones, pushing strands of brown hair away from her delicate but interesting features, she said, "You do know that on film reality is the core of everything."

He nodded respectfully.

"You play my lover," she said. Clarissa was twenty-nine years old, with a long face, limpid eyes, a nose just saved from being too long, and a thin line of a mouth. In life she received no awards for beauty. However, she had proved more than once that her ordinary looks created incandescent magic in front of a camera.

"I'm looking forward to it," the young actor said enthusiastically.

"So am I," she replied evenly. "Realize, though, that anticipation is not enough. When we interact on screen it has to be real. We have to generate excitement and passion and longing. She paused. He coughed. "So," she continued matter-of-factly. "I believe in working our roles through before we get in front of the camera. That way we are never caught with our pants down -- metaphorically speaking, of course."

He tried for a laugh and wondered why he was beginning to perspire.

"Let's make love and get it out of the way," she said, her intense brown eyes challenging his.

Who was be to argue? He forgot about his California blond perfect girlfriend with thirty-six-inch boobs and the longest legs in town.

Clarissa reached over, unzipped his levi's, and they went to work. Even though he was shell-shocked to be sticking it to Clarissa Browning. The Clarissa Browning. Who would believe it?

When they were finished she said briskly, "Now we'll both be able to concentrate and make an excellent film. Just know your lines backwards. Listen to our admirable director, and become the character you're playing. Live the role. I'll see you on the set."

Just like that, he was dismissed.

As the young actor left her dressing room, Clarissa reached for a thermos of vegetable juice and poured herself a small glass of the nourishing liquid. She sipped it thoughtfully. Interaction with her fellow actors, that's what real theater was all about. Making love to the young man had put him at ease, given him the confidence be would need for the difficult role. He would no longer be in awe of her -- Clarissa Browning, Oscar-winning actress. He would see her as a passionate woman, flesh and blood, and react accordingly. This was crucial, although some people would think she was mad if she confided that she always made love to her on-screen lovers.

She sipped her juice reflectively. It worked. And she had an Oscar to prove it.

Jack Python would throw a fit if be ever found out. Macho chauvinist. All-made stud. Did be honestly believe she didn't know about his little dalliances?

She laughed quietly to herself. Jack Python -- the man with the wandering...

Ah, well... as long as it didn't wander too far. Right now it suited her to have Jack as her permanent lover. Who knew what the future held?

"I got a friggin' heart palpitation yesterday," Howard Soloman announced with a grim expression.

"What?" Jack wasn't quite sure he'd heard correctly.

"My friggin' heart," Howard continued in outraged tones, "started bouncin' around like a Ping-Pong ball."

Jack had long ago decided Howard was a hypochondriac and changed the subject. "Where's Mannon?" he asked. "Is he coming?"

"Mannon would come every day of his life if he could," Howard said slyly.

"We all know that," Jack agreed.

Mannon Cable -- movie star, director, producer, hot property (in Hollywood when you're hot you're hot -- when you're not you may as well be dead) made his entrance. Like Jack before him, he caused every pair of eyes to swivel to get a better look. In fact, Mannon actually stopped conversation. He was handsome. If you threw Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, and Paul Newman into a blender, you would come up with Mannon Cable. His eyes were cobalt blue. His skin sun-kissed to a sexy leather brown. His hair a dark dirty blond. His body powerful. Six feet four inches. "Every inch a winner," he would mock when he made frequent guest appearances on the Carson show.

He was forty-two years old. Fit. Fast. And right up there box-office-wise with Stallone and Eastwood. Mannon Cable was hitting a peak.

"Hey -- I'm one hungry sonofabitch," he said, sliding into the booth. He grinned. He had the I am a big movie star grin down pat. He also bad a great set of caps (lost the shine on his originals when he labored as a stuntman for a couple of years), which enabled him to grin from here to eternity without any trouble at all. "What are y'all eating?"

"Eggs," replied Jack, stating the obvious.

"Looks like a couple of fried-egg tits to me." Mannon laughed.

"Everything looks like tits to you," Jack replied. "You should see a shrink, you've got big problems."

Mannon roared. "The only big problem I've got is my dick. You should have such problems." He signaled the waiter and proceeded to order an enormous breakfast.

Jack stared at Mannon and Howard. Sometimes he wondered why the three of them remained friends. They were all so different now. And yet, whenever he got to thinking about it, he knew why. The truth was they were brothers under the skin, sharing their pasts. They had made it to the top together, and nobody could split them up -- although many a wife and girlfriend had tried.

Howard had gone through three wives, and was currently on his fourth, the curvaceous Poppy. He had children everywhere. Mannon was still carrying a torch for his first wife, Whitney, and the new one, Melanie-Shanna, had not yet killed the flame. Jack had Clarissa, although deep down he knew she wasn't the right woman for him -- a knowledge he refused to admit.

"I've got a great idea," Manson said suddenly. "Why don't we fly down to Vegas next month? Just the three of us. We never get to see each other anymore. We could play the tables, raise hell, cause some trouble, just like old tunes. Whaddya say?"

"Without the wives?" Howard asked hopefully.

"You bet your cojones without the wives," Mannon said quickly.

"We'll drop 'em off at Neiman's -- they'll never even notice we're gone."

Mugging excitedly, Howard said, "I like the idea," forgetting that Poppy would singe his balls if he tried to go away without her. This one was a clinger, as opposed to the three before her who were strictly takers.

"How about it, Jack?" Mannon looked at his friend expectantly.

Jack had promised Clarissa a week in New York. Long walks through the Village. Off-Broadway theater. Never-ending dinners with her strange, broke friends. Guess who would pick up the check.

He hated walking, only liked movies, and her so-called friends were a pain in the ass.

"Yes," he said. "Set it up. Work permitting, you can definitely include me in."

Copyright © 1986 by Jackie Collins

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2006

    Hollywood lifestyles

    Jackie knows how to portait of Hollywood's sterotype and styles. It was very delicious!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2002

    Good reading

    No one can tell a tale quite like Jackie, this one keeps your interest up about the girl in the midwest who is burning her enemies to death. I was really surprised who it turned out to be. Also, I feel that the kept you guess whether or not Jack and Jade where going to make it. I was so sorry that Mike didn't though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2010

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    Posted November 2, 2008

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    Posted March 9, 2009

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