Friday, March 19, 2010


Today's entry is going to be somewhat disjointed but as a fun little exercise, I'm going to try and tie it all together somehow. Here we go...

Less than eight days after winning an Oscar, Sandra Bullock's world has been rocked again but in a vile and nasty way.

I have a kind of sixth degree of separation with Sandy (as tout le Hollywood calls her). First, we share German ethnicity. Unlike me (who kept it under wraps) she was always open and proud of her German mother and heritage. Second, I was a production executive at 20th Century Fox TV when she was cast as television's version of Tess McGill in Working Girl. She was a last minute replacement for then BIG star Nancy "Facts of Life" McKeon and this was gonna be her "big break". In what's become known as her signature ethic of hard work, humility and kindness, she charmed and wowed all of us. And btw, she never believed the hype. The show was predictably awful but it did put her on Fox's radar and on the path to movie stardom. That was 1990. After a little movie called "Speed" shot her into the stratosphere, she became one of America's sweethearts and has remained such. When she met Matthew McConaughey on "A Time to Kill", sparks flew but their friendship lasted long after. I later worked with Matthew on "The Wedding Planner" and remained in contact with him and his partner Gus for quite a while. When Sandra began dating Jesse James, her friends (including Matt and Gus) were all very concerned for her. From the outside looking in, concern seemed like a good idea.

Six years later, on Oscar night, it seemed like the sweet, satisfying culmination of both her career and her personal life as she accepted her award with Jesse sitting proudly in the front row. I felt such joy for her then, because it looked like she had beaten the odds. And Jesse had become the poster boy for bad boy turned good man.

When Sandra told Barbara Walters that before Jesse, no one had ever had her back before, I for one knew how valuable that is and it gave me hope. My own little heart was just starting to poke it's head out - like a turtle out of it's shell - finally feeling like it might be ready to trust someone, if that someone came along...then...WHAMMO. The fucking around is bad enough. The fucking around without a condom is heinous. But the broken trust. That's the one that's gonna leave a mark. A collective mark on everyone who looked at the lady and her biker and thought "If they can do it, I can do it."

Fess Parker has died. Honestly, I haven't thought about him in a loooooooooong time. And all the obituaries keep talking about "Davy Crockett" which was a little confusing to me at first. Because I knew him as "Daniel Boone". It was the only show I was allowed to watch as a 10 year old (besides "The Wonderful World of Disney") and even then, it was always a nail biter as to whether my parents would capriciously take that privilege away from me at the last minute.

Once, in an incident that was probably the beginning of my trust issues (aha!), my dad put me out of the house in my underwear. It was summer and we were eating dinner. I can only assume I was in my underwear because it was hot...or - come to think of it, my mother may have made me eat in my underwear so I wouldn't splash spaghetti sauce on my clothes...I swear to you, that just popped into my head. Being fastidiously German, she'd think of something like that. Frankly the summer heat/underwear at the dinner table scenario never made sense to me before...but I remember him grabbing me by the upper arm and forcing me out onto the front porch - slamming the door behind me. As I sat on the stoop, the feelings of fear and humiliation washed over me. I remember praying none of my friends would see me out there. It's hard to play off white underwear and undershirt as anything but what they are...suddenly, this thought popped into my head "Daniel Boone is on!"That spurred me into action. There was no time to waste. I marched myself over to the next door neighbor's house...Now these neighbors and my parents had an uneasy relationship. They were German as well but considered "lower class" by my parents. The man liked his drink and used to cut holes in our hedges. They had two daughters. One who routinely butchered the violin every afternoon and the other, who we called Ilona Balona, famously caught the crotch of her baton twirling outfit on fire trying to straddle a flaming baton (the original fire crotch!), I can only imagine the secret satisfaction the woman felt when she came to the door and saw me standing there in my underwear, lower lip a quiver. She didn't let her feelings - whatever they were - show on her face as she let me in.

I asked if I could watch Daniel Boone with them and to their credit, they were very kind to me. The man pulled up an ottoman for me. The woman offered me a t-shirt. Both daughters came out of their room to join us and for awhile we all sat and silently watched Fess Parker. During a commercial break, the woman asked me what had happened and I told them. Near the end of the episode, the woman must have gone into the other room and called my mother because before long, she showed up to collect me...and she was angry. Angry that I had dared leave the porch, angry that I had embarrassed them by airing our dirty laundry to the neighbors and angry that I had sat there and calmly watched Daniel Boone. But, I wasn't calm inside. I was scared and embarrassed and MAD. And my trust had been broken...I'm just glad that I had Daniel Boone to propel me into action that day. Thanks for that Fess Parker.

A friend recently pointed out that it's no wonder I love TV so much now...because I was never allowed to watch it. Which is probably true. And that love led me to work in the business...which has led me to my current that many of us are sharing. Shrinking business, runaway production, blah, blah blah...which brings me to this non sequitur...there's a potential job, a movie in the's not real yet, they may not get the budget where it needs to be, they may not get all of their financing...but it has potential because it involves someone who knows me and what I can do. We've worked together successfully in the past but had a falling out over a year ago...mostly due to my feelings of betrayal. We've very recently started speaking again and now this potential job is out there and I am wrestling with just being able to trust (tadaa!)...So I'm on my way home last evening - driving against the sun and zoned out -

suddenly the sun flashed brilliantly off the roof of the car in front on me - dragging me back into the present moment. As I blink and refocus my eyes I notice the license plate on that car.

It's from the state where the movie is supposed to shoot...and at that very moment, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" begins to play on my radio.



Jan McGill said...


I love this. Your heart is open. We all feel the disappointment for Sandra B., there is not one voice I have heard which does not support her and wish her well through this nightmare.

I'm going to post a new one tomorrow, it's an edit of the one I deleted last year.

Keep your chin up, sweet girl.It's been a rough year and the low integrity we have seen splashed all over the press in the past months, Tiger, Reille/John E, Jesse James, etc, etc, does nothing but spread the sadness.

The truth is we can only act for ourselves and hope that others respect it.

Thank you for sharing. The underwear story was particularly raw and touching.

xox Jan

DaVida Chanel said...

You are an amazing writer and a SURVIVOR! You inspire me to do all that I desire in this crazy business and in this crazy life.