We're Just Friends!
I was attending the premiere of the much anticipated long awaited 3rd installment of an action adventure franchise. The premiere was held in two theatres to accomodate the huge number of attendees. The male lead, Brad White, rose to fame starring in a tv series, opposite a former model cum film star cum actress, Caryn Sherrard. Their on screen chemistry sizzled, but off screen they were as cold as two icebergs in the Arctic Circle. Let's say professional rivalery was an understatement. He had come from nowhere, and was starring in A list films, she barely had a career.
One's importance on the pecking order in Hollywood determined which of the theatres you'd be seated in. Theatre A was allocated to the films actors, the director, Producers, their friends, handlers, the press, and the latest A list celebs as well various others at the higher echelons of the pecking order. The second theatre, aptly called "the overflow theatre" seated ALL those on the lower rungs of power in tinseltowns hierarchy, including B -list actors, their handlers, and assorted "Hollywood Asses"(my term for anyone who worked as an assistant to whomever)
I was seated in Theatre A, and attended with John Dorrman, a publicist whose dad had been considered a " player" at one time. After seeing me "in action" in the theatre before the lights went down,he made a note of telling my boss that he had NEVER met anyone who could schmooze and work a room like I did. Truthfully, he wasn't kidding or being nice....even today, there aren't that many people who can network like I do.
After the movie ended, we were hanging outside, in front of the theatre, chatting to people we knew as they would walk by: this director, that actress, this writer, that producer. We opted not to attend the usual celeb filled "after party" (I swear my job description was Go To Movies, Go To Parties, Hang On Sets, Eat at great restaurants, Read 1000 scripts a yr, and go to major film festivals. Sleep was NEVER an option!) since neither of us was in the mood and I had an early breakfast meeting at The Four Seasons, the power spot for breakfast,and was then expected to attend the Casting Association Awards Lunch ( I swear this is the MOST selfcongratulatory business.....I attended a freaking award lunch, or dinner, every other week)
As we were chatting outside, along came another publicist, a close friend of John's, Steve Prescott, who had attended with his client, Manning Parker. Manning,whose successful series, would later turn him and his co stars into millionaires, hailed from the same hometown as me, a point that John made sure to mention when he introduced us. The crowd was loud, most people were still milling outside the theatre, and Manning, in an effort to facilitate conversation without need to shout at me, moved closer, as we engaged in conversation about our hometowns, people we knew in common, yada yada yada. At one point, I leaned back on my 4 inch stilletos and lost my balance. In a chivalarous manner, Manning reached out and wrapped his arm around my waist to prevent me for landing on my ass! As I laughed and thanked him, , I leaned closer into him to hear what snide yet charmingly funny remark he was making.
Unbeknown to either of us....it was at THAT very moment that a photographer snapped our pic.
Me leaning into Manning, smiling girlishly, as he mouthed his appropriately funny comment into my ear.
Later on , I would find out that the photographer had asked Manning's PR guy, Steve, who I was, and Steve, not thinking anything about a rather innocent question, offered up my name and occupation.
The next morning, I rushed out to my power breakfast, then dropped off a script at a clients home, , and then headed out to the CSA luncheon. The luncheon, like most events in Tinseltown, starts off with a" booze and schmooze":Wine, small appetisers, and much schmoozing before sitting down to a five course meal, offered up while accolades are being handed out for Excellence in Casting.
At the booze and schmooze, Manning came over to say Hi, we gave each the "Hollywood Hello" a hug and a small kiss on the cheeck. Withness by many, it was truly nothing out of the ordinary... or so I thought! Little did I know that this would add fuel to a fire I hadn't even known had been started!
Because I had raved the previous nite about how much I loved his show, he took this chance encounter as an opportunity to invite me to come for a set visit the next nite, meet the cast and watch the show being shot.
I accepted especially since the studio was about five minutes walking distance from me.We set a time I'd arrive, and he pulled out his cell, and called in a "walk on" pass for me, right then!(To get onto any studio lot, whether youre driving or walking on, you need to have your name left at a gate...and you need to specify which gate it will be at!)
Manning was at this event to present one of the casting directors with her award, so he headed to the back door that would give him access to the dias, and I went to find my table, where my coworkers were already seated.
At this point I had yet to open any of "the Trades"- magazines that are filled with insider info - or any of the weeklies that I would read as part of my job.
As my I sat down, my associates kept smirking at me....and when Manning walked onto the dias...the smirking got stranger. They stared at me, at him, back at me, back at him, with those cheshire cat grins.! Finally I said" WTF is wrong with you all?"
"Oh come on, Hunt", says one of my co workers, with a bit of 'tude I might add, ...."when were you going to tell us. Did we HAVE to find out this way?"
I looked at him like he was insane! "WTF, are you talking about, find out about what?"
Slowly, and with the one eyebrow lifted upwards, he , hands me a magazine...open to the page with a pic of me leaning into Manning, smiling girlishly, as he mouthed his appropriately funny comment into my ear. And the caption said "Manning Parker and his new girlfriend, Hunt, Hollywood Insider"
Now you have to understand, rumours had been spreading that Manning's latest girlfriend wasn't an actress, but was in the biz, but no one seemed to know WHO she was. UNTIL THAT MOMENT!. EXCEPT SHE WASN'T ME...OR I WASN'T HER...OR.... WELL...YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!!!! It was me with Manning, but I wasn't his girlfriend. At least I didnt think I was. But then again..if its in the news....it MUST be true!
The look on my face as my jaw hit the ground, and I almost passed out! WHAT THE FUCK?
I was stunned. I got up, walked into the foyer, called Mannings PR guy from my cell, and left an urgent message. Several minutes later, he returned my call, from the set of another clients film.
He assured me that Manning's latest girlfriend would be okay....that he'd call her, let her know that this was a press fuck up, and sufficiently calmed me down, to the point where I stopped hyperventilling! A few hours later, once back in my office, Manning called me, and asked" Hey now that I found out Im your boyfriend, I need to know....have I been good to you...have I treated you nicely???" "Im still waiting for the silver charm bracelet from Tiffany's you promised after we had that horrible fight", I whimpered into the phone. To which he responded " And Im still waiting for make up sex!"
Manning milked this for all it was worth, the next day while on the set, he introduced me to everyone as his girlfriend, and presented me with a silver bracelet he had the art designers made from thin wire they spray painted silver and saudered together.
*btw - all the names have been changed*