As you might have gleaned by now, when there’s a story to tell about Hollywood, I’m inclined to change the names and mix it up a bit to protect the innocent. What follows is mostly true, except what’s not.
Ben had been raised in a show-biz bubble, tutored on set, coached by pros, managed by his parents – he had a vague idea that about fifty percent of his income went to “handlers”; publicists, lawyers, the church, and he took it as a matter of course. When Adam suggested, after their amazing premier season, that Ben buy a million-five starter home next door to his own in the streets above the Sunset Strip Ben’s parents called the network and the head of their church.
In a meeting in a high rise in Century City, just a network exec and young Ben, the executive was exceedingly blunt. He said, “Unlike your parents and your religious friends I don’t give a damn where you put your dick, but I do care, deeply, about my franchise. While you work for me you will date women. You will be photographed with women. There will be blogs and articles and news items speculating about your clearly hetero love life. There will be no hints to the contrary. Pre-pubescent girls will pine for you. Do… you… understand… what… I’m… telling… you?”
Ben was made to understand, in the gentlest way, the implied threat to his (and several others’) livelihood. And, after several sessions of personal counseling administered by the head of the church, he complied. He bought the house next door to Adam and then he asked a friend of his from the Disney years, Penny Scott to be his beard. He and Penny had bonded over a shared love of cats, chocolate chip cookies, and screaming pitch-black rides on Space Mountain on the company dime. There was a period in their lives when they would dial each other on their cell phones and leave them on while they would go about their business – just to be connected – later, as it became a trend, they texted without cease.
Penny was affable, she even joined Ben’s church, and after they became a regular item in the tabloids her career began to pick up. Into their third season Ben’s show was going strong and his salary was bumped to two hundred thousand an episode. His machine made sure he was perceived of by the press as a young man with the qualities of integrity, responsibility, and steady devotion. Eventually he and Penny came to share the house on Thrasher Way, but he slept, every night he could, next door at Adam’s.
© Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (text) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.