For the first time, the stars have aligned and Jessica, Celeste, and Lydia are all working on the same project, a big-budget action movie called Seven Minutes Past Midnight. The movie is going to be goodblockbuster goodif they can ever get it wrapped. But between complicated personal lives, mind games and backstabbing, and a movie studio head with an unfortunate resemblance to an evil leprechaun, there has been more than the usual amount of chaos during filming. It will take all their collective clout to get this movie into theaters. Together with Mary Anne, a naive writer from Minnesota whom they plucked from obscurity to polish Lydia’s script, the girls fight, Hollywood style, to make this film a box-office hit.
Shifting from one woman’s perspective to another’s, this addictive page-turner takes you inside L.A. to reveal the inner workings of Hollywood and howstrong-willed women navigate the shifting landscape of influence and control. No more tales from the assistant’s office, Hollywood Girls Club is the story of the players themselves, with their sometimes ugly motivations, humanizing frailties, grandiose scandals, and the lasting friendships you can find, even in the Hollywood jungle.
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Hollywood Girls Club A Novel
By Maggie Marr Crown Copyright © 2007 Maggie Marr
All right reserved.
Celeste Solange and Her
CELESTE SOLANGE NEEDED SHOES. NOT JUST ANY KIND OF SHOES, BUT Manolos, Choos, Versaces. Any kind whose price contained a minimum of three zeros. Shoes that made salesclerks salivate and Beverly Hills trophy wives green with envy. Damien would pay. She'd make sure of it. He'd blanch at the sight of his credit-card bill. Celeste glanced into the rearview mirror of her midnight blue Porsche Boxster convertible. Although she wore oversized Gucci sunglasses, she knew that behind the shades her turquoise eyes_were red-rimmed and swollen (the same gold-flecked catlike eyes_for which she was famous). Her signature blond hair, usually expertly coiffed and styled, whipped in the California wind. A cross between Michelle Pfeiffer and Marilyn Monroe, Celeste was the sexpot screen siren of the century (or at least the last five years).
Who did Damien Bruckner think he was? Celeste wondered. She pressed her perfectly pedicured toes onto the accelerator, feeling it sink to the floorboard as she took the tight turn on Mulholland Drive. When Celeste met Damien five years before, he was, perhaps, the most prolific film producer in Hollywood, and Celeste the hottest star. But five years (in an industry where the power brokers changedevery ten years) was a lifetime.
Celeste crested a hill and looked at Los Angeles lying at her feet. She could almost see the Pacific if it weren't for the haze. L.A. had been beautiful in the forties. As a child, she'd seen pictures in her grandmother's old movie magazines--orange groves, mountains, beaches and waves all visible from the top of Mulholland and the Hollywood Hills. The very beauty those pictures promised had captivated a young Celeste, drawing her from a trailer court in Tennessee to the land of movie stars. Now, with the exhaust and pollution, the view was tarnished. It was dirty and gray. Just like Damien Bruckner.
Damien believed he'd satisfy Celeste by giving her a five-carat diamond and his last name. But after what Celeste had found, neither the diamond nor the name was enough. None of it was. The fucker.
For five years, Celeste fucked him and blew him. Even fucked a_few of his friends, and why? Why? Good question. Celeste thought she'd known the answer. For the fulfillment of a promise. That once Amanda Bruckner, Damien's first wife, was gone, she--Celeste Solange, superstar--would be Mrs. Damien Bruckner. And finally, in the perfect Malibu wedding just six months ago, Celeste had gotten her wish. Or what she thought was her wish. Fulfilling Celeste's desire to be one half of "the" power couple in the movie business. It had been a grandiose event. Everyone was there. Tom, Kate, Will, Bruce, even the ever-reclusive Robert. The press was phenomenal. Helicopters whirling overhead, paparazzi sneaking through the bushes. (Damien and Celeste had been smart enough to get tents.) The picture of her dress, Celeste heard, had sold for more than a hundred grand.
And then, almost immediately after the wedding, the rumors began. The rumors and the questions. What about Celeste's career? Was it over? She hadn't worked in close to two years--was she leaving film to become a domestic diva? Perhaps a little Bruckner was soon to follow the Malibu wedding ceremony. Or perhaps, as the most popular tabloid rumors implied, Celeste was already pregnant with what was sure to be the perfect Hollywood child. None of it was true. Celeste's sabbatical from film was at Damien's behest, causing, he believed, the public's hunger for her next picture to swell. Because Celeste's first film in two years was scheduled to be the next film Damien produced, an action adventure entitled Borderland Blue.
Celeste pulled hard on the steering wheel of her Porsche. Amanda Bruckner was brilliant. Barely forty-five and set for life. She sat in a stunning $15 million home in Nice overlooking the ocean, and Damien threw gazillions of dollars at her just to keep her quiet and to stay the fuck away from Los Angeles. Amanda kept his name and a huge chunk of his money (in addition to the $50,000 a month in alimony Damien paid). Amanda would have laughed at this scenario. Thrown back her head and cackled with glee. How could she not? The irony was absolute.
Black lace panties. It seemed Damien liked them on all his women. Because the black lace panties that Mathilde (Celeste and Damien's housekeeper) had found in Damien's suitcase this morning weren't all that different from all the pairs of little black lace panties Celeste wore when Damien was sleeping with Celeste and still married to Amanda.
"Senora, es tu?" Mathilde had asked, holding up the crotchless undies as she unpacked the suitcase Damien had brought home from New Zealand late last night.
Emerging from the bathroom sauna, Celeste froze at the sight of Mathilde waving the panties over the couple's king-size bed._Her heart pounded. Those are not mine. Even from a distance she could tell. The offensive black polyester lingerie that Mathilde held was cheap and shoddily made. It had been a decade since Celeste had felt anything but Agent Provocateur against her skin.
Celeste put on her Hollywood game face (she was a Golden Globe-winning actress, after all) and smiled at Mathilde. "Si. Un presente for Senor Bruckner. To remember me by, while he was away on set."
No need to have the help talking, Celeste thought. If Mathilde found out that Damien was having an affair, everyone in town would know. All the hired help rode the same bus--how do you think everyone in Hollywood found out that Steven Brockman was gay?
Celeste flinched at the memory, swerving around her rapper neighbor's Escalade attempting to turn onto Mulholland in front of her. It wasn't the fucking around that pissed her off. (She could be jealous, but why? She'd had special friends on the side.) They were a liberal sort of Hollywood couple. Celeste had been aware of Damien's fling with this little cocktease of an actress Brianna Ellison for months. But the trip to New Zealand, to a film Damien wasn't even producing (executive producing only; he might as well be a grip), combined with this little tramp getting the lead in Borderland Blue, that was enough to make Celeste burn.
Damien didn't even have the integrity to tell Celeste that she'd been bumped from the lead role (and the sneaky bastard hadn't left the trades lying around this morning--he'd taken Variety and Hollywood Reporter). But Damien wasn't clever enough. Much like finding crotchless panties in the hands of their housekeeper, Celeste learned of her public disgrace via another employee--this time her publicist, Kiki Dee. There in the fax machine, just like every morning, lay copies of all the articles (Us, People, Star, the Enquirer, Variety . . .) that mentioned Celeste. But this morning there'd been a hissing cobra on the second page of Kiki's twenty-page fax. BRUCKNER BLUE FOR BRIANNA screamed the headline in Variety.
The humiliation was horrifying. Celeste had spent the last two years prancing around town talking about nothing but her next big part in Damien's next big film. For two years, through script rewrites, changes in director, and changes in locale, Celeste had held off doing any other film, waiting for Damien and Borderland Blue. She'd been offered other roles. Roles for which other actresses were nominated and even won awards, fulfilling what was Celeste's dream--to have an Oscar to sit next to her Golden Globe. But no, Celeste waited. She waited for Damien's film, because he'd promised.
And now Brie Ellison was getting the lead. Brie was an eighteen-year-old wannabe who hadn't even starred in a film. Sure, her breasts were perky and she had great hair, but so did Celeste. Celeste had paid twenty-five grand just three months ago to have her breasts re-perked (a little maintenance in preparation for the bikini scenes). It wasn't pleasant having stitches around your nipples.
How had this happened? Where the fuck was Jessica and why hadn't she told Celeste? It was Jessica's job, as Celeste's agent, to protect her business interests and to never let Celeste get blindsided in the trades like this. She obviously couldn't trust her husband to look out for her best interests (at least whenever his cock was involved). But her agent, one of her closest friends? What was going on? Jessica had to have known about this deal; she was the president of CTA, the most powerful agency in town. Agents knew everything, every bit of business, gossip, and intrigue that went down, usually before all the players. And Jessica was the best.
Celeste flipped open her cell phone.
"Jessica Caulfield's office," answered Kim, Jessica's number one assistant.
"It's me," Celeste said, trying to contain the bitchiness in her voice.
"One moment, Celeste. I'll get her."
They'd better recognize her voice. She'd paid enough in commission to CTA over the last seven years to buy a Third World country. Ten percent of her $20 million quote combined with ten percent of first-dollar gross was big bucks.
"What the fuck is going on, Jessica?" Celeste screamed, the bitchiness roaring over the phone line. Fuck it. She knew she sounded shrill and high maintenance, but she didn't care. This was her life, her career!
"Cici, the deal closed late last night, one A.M. I didn't find out until two."
"You could have called."
"Someone leaked it to the trades; it wasn't supposed to run today. I'm sorry, Cici. I swear we just didn't get in front of it fast enough."
"It looks like I was bumped for someone younger and by my own fucking husband!"
"Cici, there are at least a dozen producers who want you in their films. I have three full-quote offers right now--pick one. We'll run it tomorrow; it'll look like it was your decision, not Damien's. That you stepped off of Borderland Blue for a better film."
"I don't like them. I've read them," Celeste whined, her anger deflating. She wanted sympathy from her agent. And coddling. And a fucking good script.
"What do you like? What do you want to do?"
I like Borderland Blue, Celeste thought, and I want my husband not to be such a backstabbing bastard.
"What about Lydia's film?" Celeste asked. Lydia Albright was a close friend of both hers and Jessica's and a mega-producer. One way to get back at a bastard was to do the film of his biggest competitor.
"She can't make your deal," Jessica said.
"What about a trick deal?" Celeste asked. "SAG minimum and more gross points?"
Celeste thought she heard Jessica swallow hard. It was a big gamble. Celeste, who hadn't worked in two years, forgoing her $20 million fee on the possibility of Lydia's film, Seven Minutes Past Midnight, becoming a success. The risk was obvious; did the public still love Celeste enough that she could open a blockbuster action film and earn her fee on the back end?
"If that's what you want, I'll call right now," Jessica said.
Good girl! Celeste thought. Jessica has balls of steel. "I'll call Lydia. You call the attorneys and start drafting the deal."
"Anything else?" Jessica asked.
"I want a producer's credit, too," Celeste said, the wind whipping though her hair.
"Not a problem. Call me after you talk to Lydia."
"Got it," Celeste said, and clicked her phone closed.
Celeste smiled. There was one more call to make before she dialed Lydia. Another call to make Damien pay. Celeste knew that aside from taking the role in Seven Minutes Past Midnight, there was one other thing that would force Damien to experience the same anger and pain that now made Celeste burn.
For the second time, Celeste clicked open her cell phone. This number, like Jessica's, was on voice recognition.
"Lover," Celeste purred.
"Oh, my Cici! I wondered if I might hear from you today," Frederick said, with a hint of a question.
"It is a very big day." The anticipation warmed Celeste's skin.
"Black Card big," Celeste answered, referring to the limitless credit card that Damien kept locked in his safe. A card, Damien mistakenly believed, of which Celeste knew nothing.
"Oooh!" Frederick moaned into the phone. It sounded as if he'd come all over himself. "We just got some fabulous Christian Louboutins this morning."
"Perfect. I'll take twenty pairs."
"He must be in very big trouble, your Damien," Frederick cackled. "Back from New Zealand?"
"You know, my boyfriend's ex-lover is doing makeup on that set. For the actress, Brianna Ellison. You know her."
Celeste felt the rage run through her body. Of course Frederick knew. Everyone knew. The film industry was a small town in a huge city. Everyone's boyfriend's ex-lover did makeup, set design, acted, wrote scripts, produced, gappered, gripped, agented, or directed. It was six degrees of separation minus five degrees.
"She's lovely," Celeste hissed. "I hear she likes girls."
"Interesting," Frederick cooed. "I hear she likes cock."
If Frederick were a woman, she'd rip his eyes out for that. But being a member of the catty-effeminate set, Frederick could say whatever he wanted, and both he and Celeste knew it. It was fair. Frederick would pay Celeste back with a juicy tidbit of Brie gossip once Celeste finished dropping fifteen grand in his store. And if Frederick really wanted to help, he'd start spreading some wonderfully salacious lie about little Miss Brie Ellison--perhaps something in the gonorrhea or methamphetamine family?
Celeste clutched her phone tighter.
"I should be there in twenty minutes."
"Darling, for you I'd wait forty. Ciao."
Celeste tossed her phone into the passenger seat and then balanced the steering wheel with her knee. The vial had to be in her Chanel bag somewhere. She just needed a teensy weensy sniff to keep her alive. There wasn't a Starbucks on the way, and with so much shopping to do and so little sleep (silly her, she'd cried into her Egyptian cotton towels for three hours), she just needed a jolt. She dug into the powder with her pinky nail. Sniff. Sniff. Celeste wiped under her nose and glanced in the rearview mirror. Still perfect.
Lydia Albright and Her
Alexandra Neel Pumps
LYDIA ALBRIGHT'S MOVIE WAS FALLING APART. HER STAR, BRADFORD Madison, was incarcerated; her director, Zymar, was in Bali stoned on Thai sticks; and the studio, Worldwide Pictures, was pulling the plug, stopping the money--shutting her down. Lydia was the biggest producer in Hollywood, with more than a billion dollars in box-office ticket sales and an overall deal at Worldwide. But the box office hadn't been kind to Lydia's last film, Until the End. The movie had cost the studio more than $175 million to make, and the ticket sales grossed only $125 million worldwide. The studio would make another $100 million in DVD sales, but still, these were not the numbers that Worldwide considered a success.
Excerpted from Hollywood Girls Club by Maggie Marr Copyright © 2007 by Maggie Marr. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I completed reading Hollywood Girls Club over the weekend, loved it. The story explores the friendship of three close girlfriends in their process of making it to the top of the Hollywood film industry. Celeste is a mega-star actress who was recently dumped by her cheating ex for a much younger wannabe actress who would do anything and everyone to make it to the top. Celeste's friend Jessica is an agent who realizes she still has feelings for her ex, yet she's engaged to someone who is possibly playing for the other team and seems a bit distant. Lydia is a hotshot studio producer who is going through hell and back trying to get her film debut all the while dealing with a newly appointed studio head who is purposely making it hard for her film to hit the big screen, it's personal. There's also newcomer Mary Anne Meyers who is new to the industry and suddenly thrust into the world of screenwriting and luckily has these three girls as mentors of some sort to guide her through this crazy world. This book is full of drama, drama, and more drama, while at the same time encouraging one to follow their dreams and to never give up.
However, Hollywood Girls Club certainly shows you the ins and outs of the film business from the eyes of a power player, which seems like a pretty catty place, at least in this book. It seems like a world where some actresses will do anything for fame, egos are center stage, backstabbing is normal, and ultimately a place where you truly have to know who your true friends are.
I enjoyed the energy and excitement of watching the three girls bond and help each other to get Lydia's film made as well as guide Marry Anne, it's quite the adventure. They stick together through thick and thin and show what true friendship is all about. What's even cooler is that each chapter of the book is named after a brand name heel: Jessica and Her Louis Vuitton Marble Leather Pumps, Lydia Albright and Her Bottega Veneta Woven Leather Platform Pumps, Celeste Solange and Her Givenchy Spikes...fun and after reading, I suddenly wanted to go shopping for shoes...and so I did!LOL!
A fantastic read. I truly loved this book and couldn't put it down. It gave an insider's look into the intriguing and cut-throat world of movie-making -- female style! Much like Sex and the City did for me on TV, this book shows that smart, talented women, when partnered with similar female comrades (and some Christian Louboutin stilettos)can make anything happen. I anxiously await the sequel...and the movie...and the series. A fantastic read.
Me, Barefoot, Poolside The uber-agent, the uber-producer, the superstar actress, and the newbie screenwriter - four stories that interweave together deliciously, all tied in to the success - or failure - or the upcoming motion picture Seven Minutes Past Midnight. Along with restaurants, spas, romantic affairs, and SHOES. If you like chick lit, name/place-dropping, and women who can learn to play the Hollywood game without losing their femininity in a town that is built around "good ol' boys' club" rules, you'll love this book. I particularly liked being drawn in to scenes where we are clued in to where someone broke the unwritten Hollywood rules, like "the Leprechaun" trying to sabotage Lydia's big action shoot out of spite. We meet some stereotypes: the aging producer who loses his heads (both of them) over a VERY young starlet, the director who has to be fetched from his Fiji baboon-poo splattered retreat, some male stars just out of rehab who can't be trusted without a babysitter, and more... It's am entertaining summer beach read, and full of humor and fashion, if not particularly earth-shattering.
A very well written book. Loved the inside scoop on the Hollywood scene. Have recommended the book to all of my friends.
Hollywood Girls Club is the best book I've read in years! It kept me thoroughly entertained and always wanting more. I couldn't put it down. It gives brilliant insight to what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood. An excellent book!! I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!