Lefty gossip site Jezebel, but I repeat myself, is alleging that Robert Downey Jr. is a secret poster on some Hollywood blog Crazy Days and Crazy Nights, spilling the beans on Hollywood’s sordid secrets. Alleging among other tidbits that the Diana Jenkins book and website Room 23 was a secret call-girl site for B-list celebs, such as Amanda Bynes and Hayden Panettiere. [Which by the way is total nonsense. Quite apart from anything else, the ladies in question can command at least $50,000 just for showing up at a party.] Allegedly, the “Himmmm” posting account is used by four people, in the entertainment business, fed up with the sleazy nature of the business. One supposedly is Talley Griffith, a producer related to D.W. Griffith and Andy Griffith, and the other Robert Downey Jr.
That’s not the threat. I have no doubt that most of the stuff on the site is nonsense. The threat is that people actually BELIEVE that well-paid starlets are secret call girls. THAT is a major problem for Hollywood, because all they sell are actors, really. The other threats of course are people migrating to Youtube, for non-professional content that is every bit as compelling as Hollywood’s, and eventually, the mother of all scandals when a former child star or his family sues not only depraved executives BUT also major media companies that knew and condoned depraved conduct, piercing the corporate veil and generating massive pay-outs and major headaches for all the entertainment companies.
I doubt seriously an over-booked actor like Downey Jr. has time to even sleep, much less post on obscure Hollywood blogs. Or would do so, since his own life has had its ups and downs, and he would naturally be protective of those he knows. That “Himmmm” seems to be a Hollywood insider is probable. There are undoubtedly producers and writers frustrated as anyone with what is going on Hollywood on a personal level — the seamy exploitation and icky debasement that is separate but related from the ideological jihad that happens in that hothouse daily. [Both stem from a lack of accountability and ownership.] Downey Jr. probably has 3-4 hours daily of exercise and fitness to keep that action hero physique in his forties (more difficult to do so as one ages), then meetings and script readings, then personal life. He probably gets to bed at around 12 am. And is up at 5 am or 6 am at the latest. Top action-hero actors are like big time CEO’s, their time is booked to the second. Like them, they rely heavily on personal assistants because they have time for nothing else but their business. Their business being of course, the Company of One, their own personal brand of action hero acting. Writers and producers, on the other hand, have time on their hands during lulls between production that busy actors like Downey don’t have. They also see the seamy side of things, and like most decent people don’t like it.
What threatens Hollywood is that people would actually believe the most lurid and disgusting gossip about fairly wholesome actors and actresses. While there are those who are troubled, most of the actors and actresses are too busy to be dysfunctional. That people are eager to believe in a secret call girl ring screams Hollywood is reaping a decades long effort to make itself as seamy as possible, in public.
The Fatty Arbuckle scandal threatened to undo Hollywood, and in desperation to reach approval and retain those audience dollars (which could have switched to free Radio), the movie moguls instituted the Hays Code, and kept their stars under tight studio wraps. Rock Hudson, for example, was not allowed to acknowledge his homosexuality. The owners could do this because it was their dime on the line, and they knew (as newly immigrant Jews) just how good they had it. Mister, we could sure use a guy like Louis B. Mayer again!
The threat to Hollywood this time, is that a scandal if it does break out and mutate, and spread, could turn off audience at a time when they have alternatives: low-cost ebooks, and free Youtube content. That’s particularly appealing when Hollywood routinely insults half the audience at least, by engaging in uber-left, Hate-America stuff, and produces movies and TV shows in the bargain that are not very compelling. Meanwhile guys like “Nutnfancy” from the Nutnfancy Project are creating compelling content on the level of Discovery and the History Channel:
If you haven’t checked out the Nutnfancy Project at Youtube, do so. The guy (a newly retired Air Force person) has all sorts of videos up, from knives to guns to off-road vehicles, with lots of active duty and retired military and police to help him out with gear testing and evaluation. Its a lot of fun, but let me warn you, it is highly addictive.
And there’s lots of guys like him. Creating original, entertaining, and free content on Youtube. No, it won’t have Avatar-level production values. It won’t cost you anything either, and you won’t think the people behind it are slimy, because they get nothing at all or only a bit of money from what they do.
The scandal is the first threat, something icky breaking out. The audience migrating to alternatives, ebooks or Youtube, is the second. And the third? Lawsuits.
Think Corey Haim’s family has cause for a lawsuit? What about Corey Feldman? He’s alleged that powerful producers still active molested both Coreys with the knowledge of the corporate structure. What about Jamie Lynn Spears, pregnant during filming of her Disney-Nickelodeon TV show? If nothing else, there was a failure of care by the Disney Corporation entrusted with a minor. Demi Lovato, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and many other former child stars could have cause for action. If the allegations are true, that exploitation and abuse of minors is rampant and known throughout, eventually someone will sue. As much as we might decry lawyers, here is where they form a useful function — by curbing the worst abuses of private industry through lawsuits that produce financial pain to companies and thus, reform. Reform that can be achieved usually by no other means.
Someone will eventually sue. This is inevitable. Then the fun begins: Discovery! With all sorts of emails, faxes, memos, and other communications, as well as receipts, and payouts sorted through. Sarbanes-Oxley requires massive record keeping, and destruction of data brings SEC enforcement, plus the perception that the firm was indeed guilty, and hiding complicity in whatever exploitation and abuse occurred.
Hollywood has its biggest problem with child actors. No one is going to treat Brad Pitt or George Clooney badly. Character actors like David Paymer are adults, with agents, and a track record. They don’t get pushed around. Women particularly younger women are exploited, but they are adults. Some will take the exploitation and others will not. But as adults they can choose their own path. Children cannot. By definition they lack the ability to choose. They are also vulnerable, and often have parents looking for paydays not to protect their child.
Disney in particular is dependent upon a steady stream of new child actors and singers to replace the ones who age out of their shows. Miley Cyrus at age 19 is too old for Disney. The same holds true for Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato. They are too old. Disney’s target ages for actors/actresses seems to be ages 11-16 or so. Prime ages for abuse. Looking at the Disney Princesses, the process of Disney stardom would not seem to be a happy one. Of all the entertainment conglomerates, then, Disney would seem to be the most vulnerable. The most likely to be sued (simply because it churned out the most child stars, and the most unhappy ex-child stars). And the most likely to have major, major problems in any lawsuit.
Indeed I would not be shocked to find a class action lawsuit with any number of ex child stars banding together. There is no shame anymore, and since many will no longer be working, why not both right old wrongs, and make money at the same time? There might even be a book out of it, and Oprah appearance fees.
Hollywood needs to clean up its act. For child stars it depends on a steady stream of unstable, erratic stage parents who readily accept abuse of their children for a big check. Abuse and mistreatment that makes the child’s life miserable for ages. Abuse that moreover, is actionable. That will sooner or later, generate the mother of all entertainment lawsuits. Lawsuits that will make the ones around the death of Vic Morrow and those two child actors look like a Ladies Book club meeting.
Himmmm is not the problem. The child star exploitation is.