Hollywood—According To Those "In The Know"

by

Wayne Lela

(Author's note: This is the original, unedited version of the article, though I continually update it with relevant material.)

Actors and actresses and comedians and comediennes have exerted enormous influence over this society via TV and cinema. Assuming we should know more about the kind of people exerting that influence, the following. As will be shown, drug use, prostitution (i.e., trading sexual favors for movie roles), and mental illness are very common in Hollywood.

Various entertainment writers have drawn attention to the widespread use of illegal drugs in Hollywood. For example:

1) Roger Ebert: "Half the people in Hollywood seem to have gone through recovery from drugs and alcohol by now [1990]."1

2) Jorge Casuso: "During the freewheeling '70s, Hollywood seemed to be riding a coke-induced high. On screen, recreational drugs were the props of the glamorous...[or] they were psychedelic aids in the search for Truth....Off-screen, drugs were part of the Hollywood mystique, seemingly taken as casually as a cocktail. Business deals were cut over vials of cocaine."2

3) Michael Kilian: "Hollywood was notorious [this said in 1984] for its nonchalantly open use of the drug [cocaine] by celebrities."3

4) Clarence Petersen wrote in 1992: Hollywood is "a mean town, run by weird men (mostly) addicted to power, money, deals, drugs, and bimbos."4

5) Walter Scott: "A knowledgeable studio executive tells Parade [magazine in 1996] that drug use is as big---or bigger---than ever in the movie capitol [Hollywood]."5

6) Hilary de Vries, in 1998, noted "Hollywood's renewed use of drugs."6

7) And film critic Michael Wilmington, in 1998, similarly observed that "a sort of heroin/cocaine chic exists in today's Hollywood."7

(Drug use in Hollywood is so "normal" one has to wonder just how corrupt the police force and judicial system have become. And don't Hollywood's drug users care that they are supporting murderous drug kingpins and gangs and armies in Columbia and Mexico and elsewhere?)

Wherever you find rampant drug use you will usually find prostitution. It's no big secret that there are a lot of prostitutes in Hollywood. What you may not know, though, is how many actors/actresses prostitute themselves in order to get acting work.

Actor Woody Harrelson admitted: "Every [acting] business I ever entered into in New York seemed to have a casting couch....I've seen so many people sleep with people they loathe in order to further their ambition."8

Actress Jenny McCarthy similarly acknowledged: "L.A. [Los Angeles] is the worst place in the world to try to feel secure. The girls that moved out there at the same time as me, I watched them fizzle and turn into walking on the streets at night. You see that in the movies and hear about casting couches---which I thought were just big fluffy couches---but you don't know till you experience it how corrupt it is. I was the only girl in my clique who wasn't sleeping with someone to get a job."9

Chris Hanley, producer of over 20 movies ("American Psycho," "The Virgin Suicides," etc.), "told his class reunion at Amherst College in Massachusetts about the Hollywood casting process: 'Almost every leading actress in all of my 24 films has slept with a director or producer or a leading actor to get the part that launched her career.'"10

Entertainment writer Peter Keough describes Hollywood as "a town where everyone is selling body and soul for fame and fortune, and all---especially women---are considered commodities."11

Entertainment writer Jon Anderson: "Insecure, seeking love, terrified of abandonment, needing public acclaim to quell their private demons, [such are] the creatures who rise to rule over the West Coast entertainment industry....[Former show-business writer Paul] Rosenfield offers evidence [in his book The Club Rules] that this is a world of shallow friendships, blocked emotions, [and] upwardly mobile sex."12

Entertainment writer Bill Zwecker: "Hollywood---a town known for rampant infidelity, sleazy affairs, marital woes and serial romances."13

A couple of business writers, Carol S. Pearson and Sharon Sievert, have noted that in an "organization where it has become normal to sacrifice one's personal life and one's ethical standards to career success...people with deep-seated psychological problems or serious addictions often rise to the top because pathology actually is a pre-condition for making the extraordinary personal sacrifices and ethical compromises required for success."14 Hollywood offers much support for that observation.

For example, actress and comedienne Janeane Garofalo admitted: "My self-esteem is always in the toilet....Show business attracts the people with the lowest self-esteem."15

Actor Simon Pegg: "Part of the reason you're an actor is because you're deeply insecure."16

Actor Joe Manganiello was once a "scrawny teen [who] was bullied by his peers, breeding a deep insecurity that stayed with him for years."17

Actress Meryl Streep: "Anybody who picks acting as a profession is bathed in insecurity....I've had those feelings."18

Actress Ali Larter was another bathed in insecurity. "[D]espite her early [acting] success, Larter says she never felt good enough....'[I'd come] home at the end of the day crying because I wasn't good enough.'"19

"Even after winning an Oscar, an Emmy and a Grammy, Kate Winslet [also] has moments of self-doubt. 'When I get to the set on day one, I still feel like I've never made a film before and I'm a complete s--- [sic].'"20

Leonardo DiCaprio, who, like so many Hollywood celebs, came from a broken home, answered thusly a question about why he became an actor: "We're all after love, aren't we? Love is what people are hungry for. That's absolutely why I became an actor."21 (So many celebs are in therapy because they look for love in all the wrong places, as a song put it, going unfulfilled forever. DiCaprio is sadly mistaken when he essentially equates or confuses the shallow adoration of fans with love. Others sadly and misguidedly confuse sex with love.)

Actor Shia LaBeouf: "Actors live dependent on being validated by other people's opinions....The good actors are all screwed up. They're all in pain. It's a profession of bottom feeders and heartbroken people."22

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman "spoke of the tortures of the damned he endured, regularly, when rehearsing or shooting a project....[He was a] demon-haunted star with lifelong addiction struggles."23

Actress and director Katt Shea had "trauma-filled elementary schooldays. 'I don't know why a certain kid is picked as the scapegoat,' she says, recalling 'very, very painful' years as an outcast in grade school....Shea admits she's 'probably socially dysfunctional.'...To combat her fears and to do something with her life, she chose acting."24

Actor Thomas Middleditch was "bullied all through elementary and junior high school."25

Actor Michael J. Fox also felt like somewhat of an outcast when young: "You become an actor because you're a 15-year-old geek. Ten years later you're on magazine covers because you focused your neuroses in a malleable craft."26

Actor Jeff Dorchen likewise admitted to feeling "geeky" when younger. He described his fellow college arts students as "a bunch of people who, like myself, had been geeks and weirdos in high school."27

Actor Dennis Quaid on his high school years: "I wasn't a popular kid. I spent a lot of time by myself."28

Actor Henry Cavill had an "awkward adolescence...[which he mined] to play a [movie] character steeped in lonliness and confusion."29

Actor Paul Rudd: "I always felt a little bit like an outsider [in high school]. My senior year, I got more confident, I didn't feel like a total nerd."30

When actor Charles Durning enrolled in drama school he "was a dreadfully shy person" by his own admission.31

Actress Claire Bloom described those in the theatrical profession thusly: "we were all outsiders of one kind or another."32

U.S. News & World Report on Steven Spielberg: "An awkward outsider in his youth,...Spielberg found in his father's 8-mm camera a means of escape and connection."33

Actor Cory Monteith "grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, feeling like an outsider....'I never fit in, so I started pretending I was other people.'"34

Actress Charlize Theron, who's father was an alcoholic killed by her mother in self-defense: "I always felt like an outsider [when I was young]."35

Actor Daniel Radcliffe, in response to an interviewer's question ("Growing up, did you have the sense of being an outsider?"), answered: "Totally! I remember being 6 years old and knowing that I saw the world differently from the rest of the boys in my class. I have always said to myself there must be a reason for me being this weird."36

Actress Jennifer Morrison: "I was a misunderstood kid. With [the] Cinderella [fairy tale], I [when a child] related to being on the outside and wanting to be understood."37

Outsiders, outcasts, geeks, weirdos, neurotics, people with low self-esteem, prostitutes, and drug users---these are the types of people who are exercising enormous influence over our children via the entertainment industry.

And speaking of kids, child-actors in Hollywood are subjected to their own special pressures. According to actor Christian Slater: "You know, I had this belief system for many years that I had to suffer for my art....I thought if I didn't suffer for my art, I couldn't get really deeply into a character....That's what they teach young kids in this [acting] business."38 All we need are more suffering children.

Actor and comedian John Cleese: "A lot of creative ability does come from neuroses, pain."39

It's not just creative ability that comes from pain and suffering, but, ironically, comedy too.

Comedian Alan King stated this about fellow comedians: "[T]here is some form of deprivation---a large family, an affliction, alcoholic parents---something in early life, that creates this need to attract, to be paid attention to, to be loved. It's been said many times, including by Lenny Bruce: 'If it hurts, wait a minute; it'll become comedy.'"40

Billy Crystal: "I think so much of comedy is based on an anger. We're always looking for approval, looking for somebody to listen to us."41

Comedian Jim "Carrey said his sense of humor 'has always come from desperation.' This desperation for attention led to his performance debut in 3rd grade."42

Rodney Dangerfield: "People think comedians are happy people....It's the reverse. When I was writing jokes when I was 15, it wasn't because I was happy. It was to escape my reality."43

Comedienne Phyllis "Diller thinks there is one universal thing about standup comics. 'They usually are only children, or a child born late in life, or someone who has suffered some sense of abandonment. Check it out. It's true of almost all comics. Comics are searching for love.'"44

Cartoonist/humorist Gahan Wilson: "I think it was S.J. Perelman who said that the requisite for any humorist is an unhappy childhood....For most creative people, there's a great deal of storm and stress associated with it, one way or another. Mine was plenty traumatic."45

Comedy writer Diane English: "The definition of a comedy writer is somebody who did not have a pleasant childhood...and I can definitely put myself in that category."46

Comedian Jim J. Bullock: "Most comedians come from dysfunctional families."47

Comedienne Sarah Silverman on comedic talent: "It's almost like a sickness....I think it comes from some kind of damage or some kind of need or means of survival."48

From TV critic Neal Justin: "Many comedians suffer from depression."49

From film critic Richard Roeper: "Most of the best comics are dark, disturbed, brilliant observers of the human condition."50

Comedian Richard Lewis had a "miserable childhood...[and a later] bout with alcoholism."51

Comedian Sid Caesar experienced "emotional problems...[and had a] tormented inner life."52

"Comedians are notorious for often being miserable human beings off-camera, insecure and misanthropic."53

To return to the subject of child-actors for a moment, in late 2011 film critic Roger Ebert referred to a "recent controversy about Hollywood child sexual abuse and the victims who aren't naming names."54 There is more about this outrage in a Fox News story http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2011/12/05/recent-charges-sexual-abuse-children-in-hollywood-just-tip-iceberg-experts-say/. From that story:

Actor Corey Feldman, 40, himself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by an unnamed Hollywood mogul, "unflinchingly warned of the world of pedophiles who are drawn to the entertainment industry last August. 'I can tell you that the No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia.'"

"Another child star from an earlier era agrees that Hollywood has long had a problem with pedophilia. 'When I watched that interview, a whole series of names and faces from my history went zooming through my head,' [said] Paul Peterson, 66, star of The Donna Reed Show....'Some of these people, who I know very well, are still in the game....The casting couch is a real thing, and sometimes just getting an appointment makes people do desperate things [like prostitute themselves].'"

According to actress Alison Arngrim: "This has been going on for a very long time....It was the gossip back in the ‘80s. People said, ‘Oh yeah, the Coreys [Corey Feldman and actor Corey Haim], everyone’s had them.’ People talked about it like it was not a big deal....I literally heard that they were ‘passed around'....The word was that they were given drugs and being used for sex. It was awful – these were kids, they weren’t 18 yet. There were all sorts of stories about everyone from their, quote, ‘set guardians’ on down that these two had been sexually abused and were totally being corrupted in every possible way."

I think we can safely conclude from all the aforegoing personal testimonials and personal observations by those in a position to know, that many influential actors and comedians are not exactly psychologically "normal" or healthy. Add to them the many drug-using, promiscuous, influential rock 'n' roll stars.

Given all that, is it any wonder sexual exploitation (i.e. promiscuity) is becoming more and more acceptable? And extra-marital cheating a la Bill Clinton? Is it any wonder we have an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases? A high divorce rate? A high teen suicide rate?

Is it any wonder we have a high out-of-wedlock birth rate? So many young girls becoming mothers? So many fatherless homes? "Gang-banging" kids killing other young gang members? It seems like the patients are taking over the asylum.

If we are ever going to durably reverse these trends, if we are ever going to reduce/eliminate the influence of depraved people, we are going to have to do a much better job of learning and imparting moral truths.

But we don't teach morality like we teach math or physics or English. We hardly teach morality at all; and it's such a complex subject it's difficult to expect people to learn it on their own.

As a society, we not only need to learn how to logically defend our values; but once we learn that, we must teach our children those logical defenses. If we don't, we can't expect them to blindly or automatically adopt those values. It's just not realistic.

Footnotes

1. Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, Sept. 12, 1990, "Arts & Show" section, p. 37.

2. Jorge Casuso, "Learning to say no on film," Chicago Tribune, March 5, 1992, section 1, p. 19.

3. Michael Kilian, "For Stacy Keach, Richard III heralds winter of his content," Chicago Tribune, Oct. 7, 1990, section 5, p. 6.

4. Clarence Petersen, "You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again," Chicago Tribune, March 8, 1992, section 14, p. 2.

5. Walter Scott, "Walter Scott's Personality Parade," Parade, March 3, 1996, p. 2.

6. Hilary de Vries, "Happily ever after," Chicago Tribune, Aug. 9, 1998, section 7, p. 15.

7. Michael Wilmington, "'Midnight' only sometimes gutsy account of writer's double life," Chicago Tribune, Sept. 18, 1998, section 7, p. L.

8. Stephanie Mansfield, "Wild & Woody," USA Weekend, July 5-7, 1996, p. 5.

9. Cheryl Lavin, "Dumb like a fox," Chicago Tribune, Aug. 24, 1997, section 10, p. 16.

10. "News from the casting couch," Chicago Sun-Times, June 10, 2005, p. 52.

11. Peter Keough, "Taking it off takes off," Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1995, section 13, p. 3.

12. Jon Anderson, "The lackluster world of Hollywood glitterati," Chicago Tribune, April 16, 1992, section 5, p. 3.

13. Bill Zwecker, "Hollywood 'Bombshell'", Chicago Sun-Times, March 19, 2010, p. 28.

14. Jacqueline Fitzgerald, "Merlin, we beg thee, thy magic, we need some here at the office," Chicago Tribune, Aug. 28, 1995, section 4, p. 3.

15. Nancy Mills, "Real Life," Chicago Tribune, Jan. 7, 1996, section 13, p. 6.

16. Scurrilous (pen name), "The Web truth hurts," Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 3, 2008, p. 32.

17. Rachel Handler, "True Grit," Splash, Dec. 22-28, 2013, p. 13.

18. Jeanne Wolf, "America's Favorite Stars," Parade, Nov. 9, 2008, p. 4.

19. Rachel Handler, "Living Larter," Splash, Oct. 13-19, 2013, pp. 12-3.

20. Cindy Pearlman, "Making eyes, making pies," Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 29, 2014, p. 30.

21. Dotson Rader, "I Want To Stand For Something," Parade, Oct. 5, 2008, p. 5.

22. Dotson Rader, "The Mixed-Up Life of Shia LaBeouf," Parade, June 14, 2009, pp. 4-5.

23. Michael Phillips, "Acting didn't come easy, but it did come true," Chicago Tribune, Feb. 3, 2014, section 4, pp. 1-2.

24. Michael J. Bandler, "Vim & Venom," Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1992, section 6, p. 8.

25. Mike Thomas, "The Last Laugh," Chicago Sun-Times, April 7, 2014, p. 29.

26. Michael Gross, "Celebrity shakeout," Chicago Tribune, May 29, 1991, section 5, p. 3.

27. Anthony Adler, "Alone, together," Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1992, section 13, p. 12.

28. Dotson Rader, "Dennis Quaid," Parade, Sept. 23, 2012, p. 6.

29. Nicole Sperling, "Cavill knows how Clark Kent feels," Chicago Tribune, June 18, 2013, section 4, p. 5.

30. Cindy Pearlman, "Paul Rudd tries his luck with 'Schmucks,'" Chicago Sun-Times, July 25, 2010, "Sunday Show" section, p. 4.

31. Dennis McLellan, "Honored for war stint, role on Broadway," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 26, 2012, section 2, p. 5.

32. Bettina Drew, "Husbands and Lovers," Chicago Tribune, Oct. 20, 1996, section 14, p. 3.

33. Jay Tolson, "Director With a Cause," U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 1/Dec. 8, 2008, p. 54.

34. Shawna Malcom, "Cory Monteith's Turning Point," Parade, June 26, 2011, p. 11.

35. Mark Morrison, "The Amazing Low-Key Life of Charlize Theron," USA Weekend, Dec. 9-11, 2011, p. 7.

36. Dotson Rader, "Life After Harry," Parade, Jan. 8, 2012, p. 12.

37. "A fairy-tale life," USA Weekend, Oct. 4-6, 2013, p. 2.

38. Cindy Pearlman, "Actor Slater gets his life together after stint in jail," Chicago Sun-Times, Sept. 27, 1998, "Showcase" section, p. 3E.

39. Abbie Jones, "Cleese's clinic," Chicago Tribune, April 11, 1993, section 5, p. 3.

40. Hugh Hart, "King of the road," Chicago Tribune, Aug. 8, 1991, section 5, p. 3.

41. Richard Zoglin, "10 questions for Billy Crystal," Time, Oct. 17, 2005, p. 8.

42. Diane Joy Moca, "'Living Color's' Jim Carrey flies solo on cable," Chicago Tribune, Nov. 16, 1991, section 1, p. 26.

43. Lawrence Grobel, "One Banana Peel After Another," Parade, Aug. 3, 1997, p. 8.

44. Mal Vincent, "'A Bug's Life' gives Diller the royal treatment," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 17, 1998, section 5, p. 9C.

45. John Blades, "Dead-on humor," Chicago Tribune, April 26, 1991, section 5, p. 2.

46. Michael J. Bandler, "Creative force," Chicago Tribune, Feb. 16, 1992, section 6, p. 4.

47. Ed Bark, "Jim J., Tammy Faye an intriguing team," Chicago Tribune, Jan. 27, 1996, section 1, p. 24.

48. "10 Questions," Time, May 3, 2010, p. 4.

49. Neal Justin, "Women, anti-heroes took spotlight in 2012," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 26, 2012, section 4, p. 4.

50. Richard Roeper, "Comics: If it's unfunny, don't say it," Chicago Sun-Times, July 30, 2012, p. 35.

51. Howard Reich, "Richard Lewis on the phone," Chicago Tribune, Nov. 10, 2013, section 4, p. 1.

52. Dennis McLellan, "A comedy giant who made small screen large," Chicago Tribune, Feb. 13, 2014, section 4, p. 1.

53. Leah Rozen, "The Most Happy Fella," Parade, Feb. 16, 2014, p. 8.

54. Roger Ebert, "Do we really need to see 'Tintin' in 3-D," Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 30, 2011, "Movies" section, p. 4.