An LA Times Bestseller
One of People Magazine's “Summer’s Best Books”
“Summer’s hottest new beach read, a juicy tome inspired by real-life Hollywood stories and scandals.” —E! Online
“A dishy summer read about Hollywood’s underbelly, featuring twists on real celebrity scandals that weren’t fit for print in their original state.” —ET Online
"This book is as outrageous as any true life tabloid scandal—a must read!"
—Jenny McCarthy, talk show host, actress and New York Times-bestselling author of Belly Laughs
No one knows her name, but now everyone wants to.
As an assistant publicist in Hollywood, Nicola spends her days (and nights) sweeping up the scandals of singers, movie stars, and TV actors. Fresh from Ohio, she’s rapidly discovering the real Hollywood is rotten under its glittering skin. Everyone is a hustler with a hard bottom line and a soap opera sob story.
When she breaks her own rules and starts dating a movie star, the Los Angeles scene starts to spill into her own life. As the paparazzi begin the hunt for sexy star Seamus O’Riordan’s new mystery girl, Nicola’s best friend Billy has her back while he prowls parties for the latest scoop to sell to the tabloids. Her roommate Kara keeps tabs on things too—in between befriending a former child star and transforming herself from stylist to reality TV sensation.
As the scandals pile up behind them, their pasts will be exposed… And every secret can be sold.
Written by two Hollywood insiders, Kevin Dickson and Jack Ketsoyan, Blind Item's jaw-dropping scandals are real, but the names are not. And they’ll never tell.
An Imprint Book
“[A] racy, rollicking novel by two industry insiders.” —In Touch Weekly
“A dishy new book.” —Page Six
“Sprinkled throughout this rags-to-riches wish-fulfillment story are real scandals that busy publicists and managers managed to hush up and hide.” —Publishers Weekly
“This novel doesn’t just push the envelope but shreds it.” —School and Library Journal
"What a sexy, fun read! It pulls back the curtain, for an inside look at the Hollywood that's behind the glitz and glamour. Blind Item leaves you wanting more."
—Kristin Cavallari, television star, designer and author of Balancing in Heels
About the Author
Kevin Dickson has been an entertainment journalist for twenty-five years. Between 2002 and 2013, he worked as an editor at the tabloids In Touch and Life&Style where his friendships with celebrities took him behind the scenes in Hollywood in away that very few journalists ever get to experience.
Jack Ketsoyan is a veteran publicist in Hollywood who's spent most of his time on the other side of the velvet rope. He has worked for big agencies such as PMK, representing stars like JenniferLopez. He now runs his own boutique agency, EMC Bowery. Jack has occasionally specialized in crisis PR, helping stars deal with sudden scandals.
Blind Item is their debut novel.
Kevin Dickson has been an entertainment journalist for 25 years. For many years he worked as an editor at tabloids In Touch and Life&Style where his friendships with celebrities took him behind the scenes in Hollywood in a way that very few journalists ever get to experience.
Blind Item, co-written with Jack Ketsoyan, is his debut novel.
Jack Ketsoyan is a veteran publicist in Hollywood, who's spent most of his time on the other side of the velvet rope. He has worked for the big agencies such as PMK, representing stars like Jennifer Lopez. He now runs his own boutique agency, EMC Bowery. Jack has occasionally specialized in crisis PR, helping stars deal with sudden scandals.
Blind Item, co-written with Kevin Dickson, is his debut novel.
Read an Excerpt
Blind Item: Chapter Sampler
By Kevin Dickson, Jack Ketsoyan
ImprintCopyright © 2017 Kevin Dickson and Jack Ketsoyan
All rights reserved.
NICOLA MADE A FAST RIGHT off Sunset Boulevard up into the Hollywood Hills. Her trusty GPS device on the dash said her destination wasn't too far ahead. She looked in the mirror and ran a finger lightly through her light brown curls. She blinked her smoky eyelids and pursed her lips.
"Good enough," she said out loud, knowing that she'd be wading through a sea of cookie-cutter Hollywood hopefuls at the party. Rounding a blind corner, she nearly rear-ended a matte black Lamborghini that stopped suddenly in front of her.
"Shit!" She exhaled as her car jerked to a halt just a few feet from the sports car. That would have been expensive. The Lamborghini was the last car in the line for valet parking in front of an ivy-covered wall that must be the party address.
Ahead of her were blacked-out SUVs, luxury sports cars, and a tanklike pink Bentley. Knowing what her turquoise 1995 Toyota Tercel must look like at the tail end of such a row of car porn, Nicola was gripped by an urge to just keep driving.
Her plans to escape were foiled when a black Range Rover pulled up behind her, blocking her in. Her eyes widened as she saw Seamus O'Riordan at the wheel, the film star she'd swooned over on her last movie date with her mom, before she left Dayton almost a year ago.
As she watched in her rearview mirror, she saw him leaning back in his seat. He was talking on the phone, loose black ringlets hanging down almost to his left eye. Her mom was going to totally flip out when she got this week's star-spotting report.
Nicola was surprised when his eyes made contact with hers in the mirror and he gave her a half smile. She jolted in shock, but then his hand moved toward the steering wheel and he blasted the horn. Looking ahead, she realized the line had moved. Crap, she had just kept a movie star waiting.
She pulled up to the ivy-covered wall, feeling flush with embarrassment already, and a valet walked up to her window, a look of consternation on his face.
"Hey, sure you should be here?" he asked brusquely, eyeballing her old car.
Nicola glanced into the rearview mirror. The movie star was still staring at her. She panicked.
"Uh, yeah, I am, but I'm just gonna go, I'm gonna leave," she sputtered, shifting the Tercel into drive and pressing down on the gas as hard as she could. It didn't do too much, and the Tercel slowly veered away from the valet area to begin creeping up the hill.
I'm just going home, she thought. Straight home. That was ridiculous, and mortifying. Her car had just been rejected by the valet.
She crept higher into the Hollywood Hills, the engine of her car keening at the steep incline and occasionally throwing in a loud knocking noise just for good measure. She couldn't find anywhere to turn around on the narrow street lined with cars parked all along the road. Valets ran past her downhill in the gathering LA dusk.
She slowed down. A parking space was coming up on the right. Her boss, Gaynor, had made it clear that Nicola had to tackle this party on her own. Hollywood parties were the bread and butter of Huerta Hernandez, the PR agency where she worked. And like bread and butter, in a very short time, Nicola had come to find them bland, greasy, and very white. Gaynor had done her friend Billy a solid by offering Nicola a job when she moved to LA. She didn't feel like she could blow it off.
Nicola sighed and slipped into the parking spot. Getting out of the car, she inhaled LA's signature sunset scent: smog and jasmine. She tugged at the embellished hem of her black silk, borrowed-from-a-stylist Alaïa dress. It was surprisingly unwrinkled. Running her fingers along the sheer pleats, she glanced cautiously down the treacherous hill she had just driven up. At home she wouldn't have thought twice about running down the middle of this road. But she didn't wear borrowed two-thousand-dollar Louboutins to parties back home. Nicola checked the red duct tape she had carefully affixed to the bottom of the soles so they could be returned to the stylist undamaged, and whispered "Let's go to work" to her reflection in the Tercel. She began a precarious walk down the hill toward the rolling bass and laughter that were floating up the canyon, sounding like any other night at the office.
The valet who'd rejected her car saw Nicola walking up and ran over.
"Where did you go?" he asked innocently.
"You rejected my car," Nicola said breathlessly. "I went and parked it myself."
"I didn't reject your car, lady," laughed the valet. "I just don't understand why Seamus didn't drive you in his own car."
"What?" said Nicola, stopping dead.
The valet smirked. "He was pretty pissed you took off the way you did. Anyway, head on in and enjoy yourself."
Mystified, she passed the gate and approached the door.
Guest lists always terrified Nicola, even though she'd been making them almost daily since she started at Huerta Hernandez. Gloria had theatrically instructed her that making the perfect guest list was a lost art, much like dating, taking quaaludes, and mixing the perfect Negroni.
The science of a good celebrity party went beyond normal physics, with an equation so complex that it was like E = mc2 with celebrity and notoriety replacing energy and mass. You needed an exact mix of celebrities, designers, bloggers, and attractive flotsam, while making sure that all the right agencies were feted. Reality stars were a last resort, and you had to reinforce your list against the worst party foul — the desperate past-their-prime crasher.
Being on the list meant you were supposed to be there — that you were essential to the mix. Nicola always dreaded the moment where she gave her own name, and she was still surprised when it was there. This time was no different. When the standard-issue disgruntled intern actually found her name on her first attempt — a rarity — she grunted and handed Nicola a pink elastic wristband without making eye contact. Nicola let out a short, relieved sigh.
Ushered through a huge wooden door bedecked with gaudy brass medieval doorknobs, Nicola stepped through a living room and out into the backyard of a house she'd seen many times on TV and in magazines.
She was immediately submerged in a sea of fairy lights, lasers, and clouds of pink smoke that smelled like perfume and weed. En masse, the crowd around her turned to see if she was a celebrity, and turned away as soon as it realized she wasn't.
Seamus was nowhere to be seen. The celebrities around her were just a slew of lower-tier teen TV actors. Nicola wondered why A-list Seamus was there at all. If she had confirmed him for a party, Gaynor would have redlined all these CW waiters-who-got-lucky immediately.
Drink. Now, her mind commanded.
A bar made entirely of mirrors and ice, all wet and sharp, was nestled against the ivy-covered wall. Lasers refracted through ice vodka shooters, and a girl who looked fourteen at most, in torn jeans and a bra top, was resting her chin at the bottom while the bartender poured an endless shot down the ice, into the girl's mouth.
Nicola accepted a whiskey soda from a bartender who in any other city would have been a local news anchor and pushed back through the crowd into the house. The music was an endless remix of the latest hit track sung by tonight's birthday girl, former child star Amber Bank.
She paused at a long table beside the living room door. It was covered in gaudy gift-wrapped boxes of all sizes. Tiffany boxes were thrown atop larger boxes that clearly contained shoes. Every agent in town must have raided their gift closet, repurposing things they'd been sent by other agencies over the past few months. There were also lots of small, exquisitely wrapped boxes scattered among the haul.
"Looks like Amber's getting a lot of jewelry," said Nicola, mostly to herself. But she heard a low chuckle behind her. She spun around to find herself face-to-face with Seamus O' Riordan.
"Why'd you say that, m'dear?" asked Seamus in a Scottish burr, with his eyebrow cocked quizzically. He thinks I'm an idiot, thought Nicola.
"All these small boxes? They've got to be jewelry or makeup."
Seamus burst out laughing. He put one hand on his leg as he doubled over in hysterics. As soon as he could breathe again, he grabbed one of the small gifts on the table, a small box wrapped in silver-and-pink paper with an ornate bright pink bow. He held it up to Nicola's face. He shook it.
He held it closer to her nose. "Smell it," he commanded, still smiling.
"Wait — this is pot?" Nicola exclaimed as she inhaled a wave of pungent reefer.
"Yeah, the pot dispensaries here in California make Amber one of the easiest people to buy for."
Nicola suddenly understood why Gaynor had asked, at her job interview, if she had a pot card.
"You wanna know a secret?" He smirked. "Probably twenty people here actually know Amber. The rest were sent here by her agent to make her feel popular. She's not even here yet. She'll take one look at this crowd and have a fit and go upstairs and get high. After she checks out the gift table, of course."
"Oh, SHIT," said Nicola, wincing. "I was supposed to bring a gift?"
"Well, madam prefers it. She likes getting spoiled. Hey — do you have a pen in your purse?"
Nicola fished out a pen. Seamus started lifting up presents, feeling them like a kid at Christmas, trying to guess what was inside. After inspecting a bunch of them, he selected one that was wrapped in a solid pale-pink brocade paper. He ripped the card off the ribbon and, using Nicola's pen, scrawled across the entire top of the gift Dearest Amber! Happy birthday! Sorry we forgot your card in the car. Lots of love, Seamus and — He looked over at her. "Nicola," she told him. He finished writing her name, looked around quickly, and put the gift back on the table, and then moved some larger presents on top of it.
"Quick, let's go," he said with a cheeky grin. He put his hand out for Nicola's and she put her hand in his.
But their getaway was short-lived, because they turned around and ran right into the birthday girl herself.
"Baby doll," Amber cooed at the Scot. "Did you get me a gift? That is so thoughtful. I love it."
"Sure," said Seamus. "You don't even know what it is yet."
"That's not important," Amber moaned in a messed-up cartoony sex voice. She was wearing a hot-pink chiffon baby doll dress and strappy baby-blue heeled sandals. She was not wearing a bra, and as she leaned forward, Nicola saw the former child star's nipples. Again. They were a regular feature in tabloid OOPS fashion stories, and for some reason, they reliably upset her.
"What's important is the thought. I can't wait to open it."
"Well, you're welcome," said Seamus. "Good seeing you; I'll let you get on with your party."
"What do you mean?" snapped Amber, grabbing his arm. "You're coming with me." She started dragging him, but he resisted and took her arm off his.
"Amber, this is my friend Nicola," he said. Amber stared Nicola down, and raised her chin slightly. Her top lip curled into a sneer.
"Hi, bitch," she drawled.
"Hey, Amber, nice to meet you." Nicola extended her hand. Amber didn't take it but she plowed on. "I work with Gaynor Huerta at Huerta Hernandez; she sends her love and says sorry she couldn't make it. And I believe you know my best friend, Billy Kaye, he ..."
"Please stop talking at me," Amber slurred, grabbing Seamus by the wrist and attempting to drag him away again, like a spoiled child who wanted to show her daddy something.
"Hey, wait," he protested. "I'm here with Nic, I can't just leave her."
Amber turned and grabbed a mousy woman with a huge cold sore on her lip and a plaster cast on her right arm, and pushed her at Nicola.
"Hey, Courtney, this is my friend whatshername, you guys should totally hang out."
Amber turned back to Seamus. "Look! She's not alone. They're totally hanging out. I just need to talk to you for five minutes."
Seamus leaned in and gave Nicola a light peck on the lips. His lips were warm and dry, and his stubble felt electric against her soft skin. "I'll just be five minutes, I promise. Don't leave, please — we still need to properly chat."
And then he was gone.
Nicola felt like she had stuck her finger in a light socket. Seamus O'Riordan just kissed me on the lips! Her face burned. Her pulse was racing.
She tried to focus on the crumpled mess in front of her named Courtney. Stringy brown hair, skinny jeans that swam on her, and yellow off-the-shoulder sweater that hung too far off her shoulders so that Nicola could see the ribs between her boobs. When Courtney clumsily pushed some of the hair out of her face, Nicola's stomach dropped in recognition. This was Courtney Hauser, former teen star who was currently more legendary for her drug intake than her work.
"You carrying?" Courtney asked in a voice that almost sounded like a cough.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean," lied Nicola, wrinkling her nose again at a sudden bad smell.
"I'm sorry, how rude of me. We just met. Let's start over." Courtney extended her hand, clad in a filthy cast. As the hand drew nearer, Nicola realized the cast smelled worse than it looked, and she pulled back.
"So you carrying or not?" growled Courtney, with her stinking broken arm still outstretched.
Nicola wished she knew anybody else at the party so she could pretend to go talk to them.CHAPTER 2
KARA HISSED AS HER ACRYLIC nail poked a hole in the tip of her black latex-free glove. Again. She sat back and felt her shoulders bunched up around her neck. She forced them down to their natural position and took a deep breath. She blinked hard to refocus her eyes and looked around the living room, decorated in busted Target dorm-room furniture. She was alone.
The laminate table in front of her was splashed with bright green fluid. On top of it sat rows of tiny white bottles that Kara had filled with water and a touch of said green fluid, which came from quart bottles marked ALL-WEATHER ANTIFREEZE. This Saturday, after being watered down with LA's finest tap water, they would be sold to pie-eyed ravers at the Palms Up festival outside Vegas as the best liquid ecstasy that their money could buy.
"Ryk?" she called out over the burbling sound of faceless EDM that had been her soundtrack for the last eight hours. "RYK?"
Ryk's egg-shaped head popped around the corner, his thick glasses magnifying his already-wide pale blue eyes. "What is it, gorgeous?"
Oh great, he's high, Kara realized, immediately toning down her voice.
"Hey, baby," she purred. "How many of these do you need to have filled?"
"How much do you have left?"
Kara lugged a full quart up from the floor and set it on the table. She glanced at the pile of empty quart bottles on the floor and counted.
"I have one full one left, and I've emptied nine."
"How long does it take you to empty a bottle?" Ryk ambled into the room, barefoot, in skinny jeans and a tattered Electric Daisy T-shirt.
"How the hell do I know," Kara snapped, noticing a tiny spot of antifreeze on her white suede boot. Shit. She'd been so careful.
"Figure it out, princess." Ryk waved his hand at her dismissively. "Because that's how much longer you're working today."
Kara glanced at the neatly packed boxes, each one containing fifty small plastic bottles, now filled with the neon-green fluid. At fifty cents for every bottle she filled, she counted and figured out she had earned $500 so far since starting at ten a.m.
"I've filled one thousand bottles, and I need to get out of here soon."
"You asked for this job, gorgeous," Ryk said, opening his laptop and changing the playlist. "I need as much as possible. We get twenty dollars for every one of those bottles, so if you are too tired to make the last two hundred bottles, you're cheating me out of four thousand bucks. So how about you hustle?"
Kara inhaled and exhaled deeply. She bent and picked up a bag from Party City and tipped a pile of small bottles made to contain children's bubble solution onto the table. She counted out fifty into a pile and began to methodically unscrew the caps. She lined the bottles up in five rows of ten, and put the caps into a small box to her left. She popped the foil seal on the antifreeze and filled a large glass beaker.
As she was about to begin pouring the liquid into the little bottles, Ryk came around behind her and put his hands on her bare shoulders. Her skin shuddered with revulsion as he began to give her a limp, useless shoulder rub.
"Man, you're so tense," he murmured in her ear.
"You're gonna make me spill this shit."
"You could make me spill something else," Ryk said, lifting the shoulder strap of her black tank and sliding it off her shoulder.
Excerpted from Blind Item: Chapter Sampler by Kevin Dickson, Jack Ketsoyan. Copyright © 2017 Kevin Dickson and Jack Ketsoyan. Excerpted by permission of Imprint.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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