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The Hollywood Bad Boy

For the first time in over a century, I live in a house with Cable Television. Mind you, I don't have premium channels (no HBO, Showtime, etc) or million channel satellite madness. I just have the basic cable with channels devoted to everything from cooking and home improvement to golf to car racing to news to sports to MTV (don't they ever show videos?) to comedy to gossip. There's so much. . . .there's too much. . .it doesn't stop. . . ahhhh. As a result, I try to keep the TV off or pop in a video when I need veg out entertainment (yes, I'm still in the 20th century---I don't own a DVD player although I own DVDs).

However, there are a few brilliant shows that have danced out of the chorus line of TV garbage and even made me smile. First is THE OFFICE on BBC America. The more I watch it, the funnier it gets. If you've ever worked in an office, these characters will be very familiar. Check out the Motivational Seminar episode from series 1. Free love on the free love freeway. The love is free and the freeway's long. Wait a sec, I just need a minute. That's funny stuff, man. Unfortunately, I no longer get BBC America, so I haven't seen Series 2, but I anxiously await the DVDs. Might just buy a DVD player for that one.

I also like to watch THE DAILY SHOW with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. It's a fake newscast which utilizes real clips from current events. Such a simple concept. Such an abundance of material. I especially liked the MSNBC clip in which a female newscaster crawls through a recreation of the Sadamn bunny (I mean spider) hole in a pants suit and heels----it's a living, I guess. The show's writers also realize that their viewers are pretty smart, so sometimes they just play a clip of George W saying something surreal and cut to a jaw dropped reaction by Jon Stewart. Although I worry that the Big W's speech writers might appeal to the WGA for writing credit, I think it does take a certain kind of brilliance to find the absurdity in politics and news. Then there's the whole Janet Jackson debacle. Wait, I need a sec. HAHAHAHAHAH. Okay, I'm fine now.

Another show that's fun to watch is TRADING SPACES on TLC. Two couples get two days, a thousand dollars, and a designer (who basically runs the show). They switch houses and redo a room in each other's house. So in every episode, we get to watch a metamorphosis of space. How Ovid! My favorite moment is always when the designer shows the couple what the paint color will be by lifting the lid off a paint can. Uuuuu. Ahhhh. It's beige. TRADING SPACES is the American knock-off the British CHANGING ROOMS, but I prefer the Americans because the culture clash is a hoot sometimes. The homeowners (who trade spaces) tend to be housing development suburban types while the designers are artsy/I have an idea!/it will work! types. Some of the couples have their worlds seriously rocked. I especially like the designer named Hilde. She painted an entire dining room black. I gotta tell ya, she has a vision.

By far, my favorite guilty pleasure on cable is Bravo's INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO hosted by James Lipton. In an hour-long episode, Lipton interviews a movie star actor type in front of an audience of acting students at the New School. Because Lipton tries not project too much of his personality into the interview, the interview can get really boring if the guest is really boring (Kevvvvinnnn Cosssssnerrrrrr). If the guest is funny, intelligent or has made a lot of great films, it's fun to watch. Meryl Streep, wacky funny. I also noticed that the actors become so relaxed that they don't overanalyze and occasionally admit that ‘hey I don't know, you know, the camera was rolling, and I just did it'. They can even smoke em if they got it em---Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe, Sean Penn.

James Lipton looks like the archetypal theatre academic---beard, glasses, tweedy. He has a deep voice with perfect diction, and his voice goes up a bit higher when he brings up a new idea or topic. According to his bio on the Bravo website, Lipton has had a career in both theatre and television as both a writer and a producer. He has written book and lyrics for Broadway musicals. He has also written a published book called THE EXALTATION OF LARKS. Well, he certainly gets some larks exalting every week. He researches every nook and cranny of his guest's career, then asks a question which leads to another question, and soon we are getting a magical story of acting success. There's usually one film that's the break through film, and Lipton always introduces it with ‘And now we come to (insert film here) ‘ and the audience claps, and usually the actor smiles and takes a drink of water.

In the last part of every episode, before turning the guest over to a small audience of students (who ask intelligent questions in a dignified manner), Lipton does the Bernard Pivot Questionnaire. These are ten questions from the French Series BOUILLON DE CULTURE, and they're fun to pull out at parties or when you're trying to make small talk.

The Bernard Pivot Questionnaire is:

1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
4. What turns you off?
5. What is your favorite curse word?
6. What sound or noise do you love?
7. What sound or noise do you hate
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

In a recent episode, Russell Crowe said his least favorite word was a three word phrase, HOLLYWOOD BAD BOY (ahah! Jen finally gets to her title). I was intrigued---not just because it was Russell Crowe saying it (okay, I think he's cute), but it is also a phrase that does get thrown around a lot. What exactly is a Hollywood Bad Boy and why does Russell Crowe abhor that three word phrase more than any other word or phrase in English or any other language?

My search for the Hollywood Bad Boy began in my physical world. I have worked in Hollywood proper (I can stand on the roof of my office building and see the Hollywood sign) for several months, and no one has introduced himself to me as a Hollywood Bad Boy. Does the Hollywood Bad Boy even exist? Maybe, he is a mystical creature who only comes out at night, but I've been out at night in Hollywood. No Hollywood Bad Boy. Maybe the Hollywood Bad Boy is a Gargoyle who lives in Runyon Canyon and eats all the little dogs that go missing there. Maybe the Hollywood Bad Boy walks around in disguise and we're not supposed to recognize him instantly.

I thought about all the men/boys I've met in Hollywood and consulted my field notes: several movie geeks (scientific name: Filmus Dorkus) who might secretly want to be Bad Boys but spend too much time watching big budget Hollywood movies and liking them; a few crazies (but there could be crazies anywhere); a few broken down dreamers who've turned into cynics (scientific name: Spoiltus Illusionus); and one really great bartender (he makes a sublime martini, it's all good and beautiful, no badness there). No Hollywood Bad Boys.

Having exhausted my reality, I googled. Hollywood Bad Boy brings up pages and pages of material. Here are the first five websites

The first hit is an article in Hello Magazine about Colin Farrell. According to the article, he is a Hollywood Bad Boy because he (1) speaks his mind, (2) has an eye for the ladies, and (3) enjoys the occasional brew. Doesn't sound so bad to me. The article goes on to quote Mr. Farrell as saying: ‘I come to the States and have two beers at lunch and all of a sudden, ohhhh! I'm edgy.' Uhmmmm. Well, I have two martinis at lunch. I guess that makes me edgy plus????

The second article is from about retired motorcycle enthusiasts shedding their Hollywood Bad Boy image. So if you ride a motorcycle, you're a Hollywood Bad Boy? Okayyyyy. Again, I fail to see the negativity in riding a motorcycle especially since every motorcycle rider I've ever met is very aware of safety and has a great sense of balance. And Happy Birthday Campbell!

The third article has the title, ‘Hollywood Bad Boy Crowe turns to Sailing'. There he is! There's Russell Crowe---number three on the google, right after retired bikers. So Hollywood Bad Boys turn to sailing---to do what?---cure their Hollywood Bad Boyness? Or maybe he just likes to sail? I like sailing. It requires respect for the ocean and the wind instead of just hurtling across the water in some sooped up gas guzzler. It should also be noted that the Hollywood section of Los Angeles is not next to the Pacific Ocean. From Hollywood, you have to drive in (gasp) traffic through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica to get there.

The forth website listed is which lists all of the books with Hollywood Bad Boy in the title. Gosh there are a lot of them. I hadn't realized that there was a whole literary movement. It's kind of like a Beat thing only without the poetry and the prose.

The fifth website is (that's hard to type without hitting the space bar) with a web page dedicated to the Hollywood Bad Boy, Robert Mitchum. Now, we're moving into classic cinema. Apparently, Robert Mitchum came from Lone Pine, and they are real proud of him because they have him in their museum there. He was also quite brilliant in the original CAPE FEAR. But honestly, if he truly was a bad boy, would he be in a museum? Van Gogh (who apparently was a little wild) is in tonnnns of museums.

So to summarize the Google search, if you are a Hollywood Bad Boy, you speak your mind, have an eye for the ladies, enjoy the occasional brew, ride motorcycles, go sailing, spearhead a literary movement, and end up in museums. Sorry Mr. Crowe, this doesn't sound too bad to me. In fact, probably every man I've ever respected has been a Hollywood Bad Boy to some extent.

Perhaps, Mr. Crowe objects to its over-use especially in reference to himself as well as the absurdity of its negative connotations. Personally, I think it's all just silly, and there are a lot more awful words in the world than Hollywood Bad Boy.

Finally, in conclusion to this very lonnng journal entry, I will indulge myself with my answers to the Bernard Pivot Questionnaire:

1. What is your favorite word?
---it's a four word phrase: On the house, Jen

2. What is your least favorite word?
---In baseball, intentional walk (come on guys, play!)

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
---when someone tells me a good story---if it's set to music, all the better

4. What turns you off?
---Bad drinkers

5. What is your favorite curse word?
---go with the basic: Fuck

6. What sound or noise do you love?
---the ocean (awwww)

7. What sound or noise do you hate
---Toddlers crying in grocery stores

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
---Rock and Roll Goddess

9. What profession would you not like to do?
---Librarian (I did it once)

10. If Heaven exists, what would you hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
---Madam, your table is ready.

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