Saturday, February 05, 2005

Where Am I Now?

So, a cable network got in touch with me. They are doing a special called The Hundred Greatest Child Stars, and they would be ever so happy if I were to participate. My first thought was “Sweet crap, there are a hundred of us?”. Then, I realized that they are probably going to use some dead child stars as well, and I calmed down a bit. I don’t think that a society can maintain its integrity with a hundred adults walking around who were in Teen Beat magazine. My second thought was, “Can I bring any question that they ask me around to The HipHugger?”. Because there are only two reasons to be on one of these specials:

Person One - You have something that you want the world to buy, and this is free publicity. The thing that you want them to buy, however, cannot be you, or else you become…

Pathetic Person Two - The highest point of your life was before you hit puberty and your sitcom was cancelled. Public attention is the only thing that makes you feel whole and you will rob a bank just for the sensation of having the security camera trained on you.

In order to make sure that I am never mistaken for #2, as it were, I am now going to explain why I want no part of acting, and then I will finish with a fairly mortifying example.

Actors love Acting, and Acting can take or leave Actors. Acting is a Bad Boyfriend. The kind of boyfriend who trashes your car, knocks up your kid sister, and ruins your credit. Acting takes and takes and takes, to the point where any person with the teensiest bit of self-esteem finally says “To hell with this. I’m moving back to Billings to live near my folks and make a go of strip-mining“. Only then does Acting finally realize that you’re nearly out the door, and briefly pulls it together. You get a job, maybe two, and Acting croons in your ear “Baby, it’s going to be different this time. I’ll stop setting the garage on fire”. So you think, I can make a go of this, my luck has turned. You refund the one-way ticket to Billings, and Acting, knowing that you have given up all power again, promptly sleeps with your ex-boyfriend. Metaphorically, of course.

About two years ago, I was interviewed for another “Where are they now” show (From those of us who love free publicity, I sincerely thank the group of people who keep watching these things). The interview was fun and easy, mostly because I didn’t care about making myself an acting commodity. Because I didn’t care, the network liked me (Networks are the physical embodiment of the Bad Boyfriend, and we all know how Bad Boyfriends feel about indifference), and induced me to sit on a panel for a game show. I could mention The Hiphugger as often I could organically work it into conversation, and it was presented as being fun.

Before I knew it, the Bad Boyfriend was back next to me, pointing out that if the network continued to like me, I could maybe do some humorous segments for their news show, maybe something about parenting. Or silly pieces about Hollywood. Nothing big, nothing that would cut into being able to take care of my daughter, I assured myself. Well, I might need a nanny, if I had to travel, but it would have to be for a really good segment.

This was a lovely little fantasy until I got to the studio. It was a makeover show, done in the style of a court case, with me and two other lost-soul celebrities as jurors. It was “People’s Court”, with Daisy Dukes. The lighting was so bad, when I caught a peek of myself on the playback monitor I started to worry about liver failure. My only consolation was that the show was to air on the network's lesser channel, and I could take this sordid little secret to my grave.

It got reviewed in the Los Angeles Times.

The reviewer didn’t mention me by name; I was merely one of three “Celebrities that no one has ever heard of”. My first thought was: Hey, pal, I’m not an unknown. I’m a has-been; an entirely different form of invasive weed!

In the end, of course, I have no one to blame but myself. I know that The Bad Boyfriend never gets better, and never respects you. If there is some actor right now who is getting everything that he or she wants, it's possible he or she is being set up for the really humiliating fall later. If you have a well-known celebrity that really irratitates you for some reason, you might find that thought soothing.


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