I’ve worked in show business for many years, sometimes as an actor, singer or voice-over artist, other times, a screenwriter, floor director or production assistant. Dotted in between all of those jobs was the occasional stint as a personal assistant, publicist and talent manager for Canadian and American celebrities. What does that mean, exactly? Well, I’ve signed non-disclosure agreements which prevent me revealing who most of my clients are/were but, in a nutshell, it means that I served as a very discreet, level-headed and ruthlessly protective pit bull for my clients, always ready with sound business advice during a frantic 3 a.m. phone call, or a sympathetic, non-judgemental ear when discussing personal troubles, such as a drug problem or pending abortion. It means that, at the drop of a hat, I would lend a helping hand when my celebrity friends found themselves overwhelmed with responsibilities, utilizing my various talents and abilities to do things like:
● Shopping and errands, such as returning unwanted retail purchases to the store, getting a watch repaired, dropping kids off at school, bringing a family pet to the vet and booking hair, manicure and spa appointments.
● Vetting and hiring domestic help, such as maids, nannies, chefs, gardeners, chauffeurs and bodyguards. On occasion, I worked as a maid, nanny, cook, gardener or chauffeur when my clients were short-staffed.
● Organizing incoming mail into categories (autograph requests from fans, requests for a donation or public appearance, legal/business correspondence, psycho-stalker death threats to be forwarded to the police etc.)
● Setting up interviews with Entertainment Tonight, E-Talk Daily, Oprah, The Today Show, Breakfast Television, Live with Regis & Kelly etc. and booking travel arrangements for my clients’ publicity tours.
● Updating official websites, blogs, social media accounts, Wikipedia and imdb.com with the latest news on my clients, sometimes writing as though I were the client, so they would appear more approachable and in-touch with their fan base (I realize this is deceptive but some of my clients worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week, and just didn’t have the time to post daily updates).
● Personal protection and crowd control during red carpet premiers, film festivals, award shows and gala fundraisers.
● Crisis management and damage control when dealing with TMZ, Perez Hilton, Gawker, The Smoking Gun and other predatory showbiz gossip websites (I hope you burn in hell, Harvey Levin!).
● Assisting actors with memorizing their lines, rehearsing scenes and delivering notes and packages to co-workers and the production office team, while on-set with them.
● Working as a faithful right-hand to showrunners and executive producers as they dealt with the day-to-day management of their TV shows. This involved everything from fetching them lunch to re-writing scenes (uncredited) that just weren’t working on the day they were supposed to be shot.
As a talent manager, I proudly guided three of my clients to Academy Award wins, cheering enthusiastically from the audience as they went up on stage the give the Oscar or Emmy acceptance speech I wrote for them, a few hours earlier…when I wasn’t taking up the hem on their gown or ironing the wrinkles out of their tuxedo.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Who the fuck is this chick and why have I never heard of her or seen her in pictures with all of these movie stars she claims to know?
That, my dear, is by design. A well-crafted mystique that, simultaneously, keeps me safe from my clients’ psycho-stalkers and reinforces my reputation as a well-respected showbiz professional for hire, independent of my occasional side-gig as a trusted aide and confidante to various Hollywood celebrities. That wasn’t always the case, though. Before everybody and their dog had an internet connection and cell phone with camera/video, I was a little more open and trusting with the general public. But not anymore, and here’s why:
About 15 years ago, I contacted a Los Angeles-based actor I’d never met before, hoping he’d be interested in a supporting role on a TV series I had in development. This actor, let’s call him “PL”, was married, with a successful career in the industry up to that point. Although he was not an A-lister, he had an international fan following and an official website in order to promote his work and make himself available to his fans.
PL liked my pitch and agreed to come onboard, both of us hoping that having his name attached to the project would increase my odds of selling the show to a network. With PL’s permission, I posted a notice on his message board to introduce myself and announce that he was involved with the project. Dozens of fans from all over the world posted their congratulations and well-wishes. I even got an email from “Trista”, one of PL’s most ardent admirers. She was very excited by the news, so I emailed back to tell her how much I appreciated her support. She replied, telling me a little about herself and I responded, telling her a little bit more about myself. Soon, we were corresponding eight to ten times a week, getting very friendly and personal with each other. At no time did I suspect that Trista wasn’t nearly as mentally or emotionally stable as she seemed in her emails. It was only after about seven months of communicating with her, via email, that I discovered some very shocking and disturbing news about her.
While surfing the Internet one afternoon, I stumbled upon a website whose sole purpose was for people to post rude and disgusting jokes, stories, insults, celebrity rumours, porn pics...just the absolute worst things you would never want to see on the Internet. To my absolute horror and dismay, I found several posts from Trista discussing me and my relationship with PL, who had become a dear friend of mine by that point. She copy/pasted excerpts from our numerous email exchanges where I mentioned my unhappy marriage and subsequent divorce, details of my health/weight problems and brush with cancer, my social, religious and political views...just so many very personal and private things. In Trista’s posts (there were about 25 of them), she insulted and scoffed at every aspect of my personal and professional life, my physical appearance, my intelligence and various creative talents. She condemned my relationship with PL and suggested that he and I were having an affair on his wife. Trista encouraged anyone reading her posts to join in the “fun” of insulting and degrading me and, much to my chagrin, many people did.
I emailed Trista to confront her but she just laughed me off saying she had the right to free speech and would go on saying anything she liked about me. It was only now that I realized just how jealous she was of my friendship with PL and, in her delusion, saw me as a threat. Now that she knew I found her disgusting message board posts, she went back to the website and posted my real name (I had a different professional name back then), my email address, home address and cell phone number, urging anyone reading the info to find me and take me out – and I don’t mean to dinner!
The next few weeks were pure hell for me. I got dozens of phone calls in the middle of the night from men whispering “Slut!”, “I’m gonna get you, cunt!”, “You’re dead, you fucking bitch!” I also got anonymous emails from people detailing how they were going to kidnap, rape, torture and kill me. I wanted to go to the police but, after discussing the situation with PL, we realized that if I did, this whole thing – which, so far, was just a bunch of really juvenile assholes having cruel fun – would turn into a media shit-storm that would deeply affect his marriage and his career. So, I changed my phone number, deleted my email account and went totally off the grid for three months while I waited for things to die down. I had my lawyer monitor the offending website and track Trista’s actions, in the real world and online, over the next year or so, to make sure she didn’t cause me or PL anymore trouble.
That was the first serious incident which made me realize that I had to keep my existence private and separate from my high-profile friends. They may have gated homes, security systems and bodyguards to protect themselves from the bat-shit crazies – but I don’t! The last thing I need is somebody Googling my name to find out that I know [insert famous person here] and emailing me scripts or movie/TV show pitches to pass on to them, only to get pissed off and start threatening me when I refuse or don’t reply to their email.
This second incident is far more tragic and has left a dark mark on my soul, which I will take with me to the grave.
A few years ago, I was simultaneously dating one of the veteran stars of a mega-hit sci-fi series, and a younger up-and-comer who was on the cusp of a great acting career that, with the right agent, could’ve taken him to Hollywood in five or six years. This very suave and handsome younger actor, whom I shall call “IM”, had a hard-core fan following of men who thought he was the coolest dude around, and women who absolutely lusted after him. IM was very open and accessible, via the Internet, and in person. He loved to be around people, talking about their mutual passion for computer games, fantasy, horror and sci-fi movies and TV shows, and I really enjoyed that about him.
I lived in Ottawa at the time, and would visit IM, in Toronto, two or three times a month, for business – and a whole lotta pleasure! He had a nice little apartment in a woman’s home, and had been casually dating his landlady for over a year by the time IM and I first met. Unfortunately, by early summer of that fateful year, the landlady/girlfriend was becoming more of a jealous and possessive stalker. Using her key, she would sneak into IM’s apartment while he was at work and mess with his things, go through his drawers, take little keepsakes. IM couldn’t prove it, but he shared his concerns with me, and decided to break things off with her, completely.
Over the summer, my relationship with IM became more serious, although I was still dating the other actor. Knowing that I was “the other woman”, the landlady/ex-girlfriend started sneaking into IM’s apartment and deleting my landline phone messages for him, and messages from his agent telling him that he’d booked an audition. Small gifts and gestures of my affection for IM had also gone missing from his apartment. IM’s suspicion and concern grew but, again, he couldn’t really prove it. Nonetheless, while searching for another apartment to rent, he warned me to watch my back because he feared the woman was becoming dangerously unstable.
In late summer, IM and I decided to make a more formal commitment to each other. I ended my near year-long relationship with the veteran actor, with the expectation that IM and I would be living together, in a few weeks. Sadly, and horrifically, two days before he and I were to start apartment-hunting in Toronto, I learned (on a sci-fi message board) that IM had a vicious confrontation with his psycho-stalker landlady, during which he shot and nearly killed her. Knowing that, despite the circumstances, he was most assuredly facing 10 to 12 years in prison – and the end of his burgeoning acting career – IM committed suicide with a gunshot to the head, a few hours later.
Yeah. So, now you know.
It’s because of these two very hard lessons that I, now, keep my celebrity friendships a secret from the general public. I’ve been in a loving, non-exclusive relationship with a Hollywood mega-star, since 2010, and there are less than ten people on the entire planet who know about it.
And that’s just the way we like it!