The Breakfast Table

Masticating Monica

Top of the morning, Charles.

So much on which to masticate. (Isn’t it interesting that Monica’s late 20th century “branding” refers to something entirely different than it might have in an earlier time? What a quote.)

Let’s talk about the really important issue first. Hair. I think Monica is making a false move here. The hair is her best asset and if it is true that she didn’t like the way she looked at the deposition and decided to go with the slicked-back look, she’s miscalculating. Alas, I have yet to watch the entire show (I was dutifully attending the industry dinner to pursue your question about the town’s response to Kazan’s honorary Oscar). But the part I did see struck me as remarkable for the facial expressions. Popping eyes that occasionally looked positively loony. The factors that go into the making of a Monica are pretty sad. The Beverly Hills upbringing, the grasping mother constantly harassing her about her weight, the predatory high-school drama teacher–how could this girl possibly have been without antidepressants even before she was treated to Bill, Linda, and Ken?

Meanwhile Monica, I gather, is set to sign autographs at Harrod’s. How perfect that she has been brought into the Fayad orbit. In some sense, she and Princess Di are soul sisters. Binging, purging, lip-gnawing, contemplating suicide, looking for love in all the wrong places. Maybe Monica can get the U.S. to sign the mine-banning treaty. The woman needs a good cause.

So the industry dinner was a lovely four-course affair at the fabulous Beverly Wilshire. One thing about LA, the cuisine is to Washington as Paris has been to London. Our air may not be so great but do we know how to eat! Actually, it was not strictly an industry dinner, because it was also attended by former district attorney Ira Reiner and conservative radio talker Larry Elder. So the guest of honor–the editor of Variety, who has a new book–opened up with a comment that he thought it was ridiculous to complain about giving Kazan the Oscar. Good start! But alas, that subject died like a capitalist dog. People started talking about whether the populace of Peoria cares about box-office grosses and the price of movie tickets. I tried to resurrect Kazan. Thud. An actor said he thought Kazan deserved the award. Someone else said he didn’t. There was, to be fair, a brief discussion about whether the excesses of artists should be overlooked for the sake of the art. I mentioned Gauguin, giving VD to underage Polynesian girls. I tried Polanski, who drugged and raped a 13-year-old and hasn’t been allowed back since. But nobody wanted to tackle this issue. Oh, well. Try them at your next dinner party and let me know how it goes.

Back to Monica. There was an agent at the dinner who says a producer friend of his complains that Monica has been “stalking” him. Hot news! And there was a Monica-viewing party at Planet Hollywood. No one who is anyone goes there. The ABC-affiliate newscast after the interview was all-Monica. They had a body-language analyst who concluded she was insecure because she giggled after making a statement. They had a cosmetician who talked about her new look. They had an ex-boyfriend from Bev Hills who said … well, I have no idea what he said.

Meanwhile, a note of personal outrage on an entirely different subject. I am distressed to see a report today that three years after producer Don Simpson (Top Gun, BeverlyHillsCop, CrimsonTide) drugged himself to death, the authorities here are thinking that maybe they should take the license from one Dr. Nomi Fredrick, who is accused of incompetence, gross negligence, and “a clinical state of obliviousness” while Don swam in a sea of drugs that she happily supplied him while charging diamond jewelry and spa treatments for herself on his credit card. I knew Don well; he was a mess. A drugging, whoring S&M freak; major patron of the infamous Madame Heidi. A true Hollywood study–bring us the grosses and we don’t care what you do. But despite his dreadful habits and his popcorn oeuvre, I promise you that he was brilliant, funny, and an incisive analyst of everything but his own screwed-up life. Now, in March 1999, the medical board has made its first move. Why has it taken three years? Do you realize “Dr.” Fredrick has been allowed to “practice” medicine all this time?

I, too, gnash.