Saturday, October 3, 2015

Top five Jackie Collins novels!!

As a teenager, I knew that other people were reading Jackie Collins. After all, her books screamed “No 1 bestseller” on the front. But I didn’t shout about my choices, perhaps because in my early teens I was hiding my raunchy reading material from my parents, and in my late teens the books were a guilty pleasure for someone who was meant to be getting to grips with The Merchant’s Tale for her A-levels.
Well, I should have done: “sex-filled, escapist, utterly unpretentious”, as the New York Times puts it, Collins’ novels are an over-the-top, steamy delight. Clearly she had as much fun writing them as we do reading them. Looking back through her writing to compile the list below, I can’t help imagining the wicked grin spreading across her face as she whipped up her patented mix of sex, scandal and glamour. Here are my five favourites – though I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise.

Hollywood Wives (1983)This was my first Jackie Collins, and it contains a scene I will never forget: the film director who has a heart attack while having sex with a film star, after getting his privates stuck inside her. I was astonished, slightly traumatised and very thankful that these kinds of activities were a long way off for me. I was also hooked by Collins’ glitzy, glamorous, steamy world of beauties and sculpted bodies and sex and murder.
The World Is Full of Married Men (1968)Jackie Collins’ first novel was given the ultimate tagline by Barbara Cartland: “nasty, filthy and disgusting”. (Cartland added: “Miss Collins, you are responsible for all the perverts in England.” Hurrah for Jackie. ) David’s wife, Linda, leaves him after he has an affair with Claudia: “She had long, shiny ash-blond hair, which fell thickly around her face, and deep bangs down to her eyebrows, which accentuated her enormous, slanty green eyes. The face was perfect, with a small straight nose and luscious full lips. She wore no makeup and no clothes, and was covered by only a thin silk sheet.”) Things don’t turn out well for David.
The Stud (1969)Married Fontaine Khaled is “very haughty upper-class English. Beautiful of course, with chiselled bones (whether by nature or cosmetic surgery no one knows”. She hires a man to run her night club and also keep her happy sexually. “I suppose you’re wondering how this all came about, how a guy like me, Tony Schwartzburg from somewhere near the Elephant and Castle, turned into Tony Blake, man about town, friend of the stars, host at the most ‘in’ discotheque, Hobo.” Collins’ sister Joan starred in the film adaptation.
The Bitch (1979)The story of Fontaine, now the ex-wife of billionire businessman Benjamin Khaled, continues in this novel as she enjoys an expensive party lifestyle and meets ladies’ man Nico Constantine. It was also adapted as a film, with Joan Collins reprising her role as Fontaine. Collins self-published an updated, rewritten version of the novel in the US in 2012.
Lucky (1985)It’s tricky to choose one favourite Santangelo novel, but I think Lucky is my pick (or is it Lady Boss?). Beautiful, wild, tough and street-smart, Lucky Santangelo is the daughter of gangster Gino (family motto: “Never fuck with a Santangelo”), who here is running a casino in Las Vegas. In weighing in on the novel, the NY Daily News said: “So hot it will have to be printed on asbestos.” The ninth Lucky story, The Santangelos, was published earlier this month.
And, HOLLYWOOD WIVES is always my top favorite Jackie Collins book!

The world needs more great broads like Jackie Collins

We are losing our great broads – the Liz Taylors, the Joan Riverses, even the Cilla Blacks. Now Jackie Collins has passed on. God knows, we need a few more to replace them.
The world of entertainment was once rich with broads – those smart-mouthed, high-gloss women who eye the world with an amused smile and take no crap from anyone. Collins was a broad until she died: just days ago she was giving television interviews about sex and partying, her face as made up as if she was bound for New York’s Studio 54, her manner giving no clue to what she must have known was her impending death.
She was funny, sexy and glamorous. She was still lunching journalists, one of whom commented that she looked a little older, “but still much younger than her 77 years”. She chose to retain control of that image until after her death, at which point People Magazine ran a prearranged interview in which she explained the facts of an illness she had fought privately for six years. And in doing so, she protected her family from the kind of faux-concerned scrutiny that a public cancer diagnosis would involve. She put on her makeup and completed her book tour, and was as sharp and funny and glamorous as she had ever been. She did it, she said, “my way”.
When Cilla Black died recently I felt the same sense of despond; you didn’t have to love primetime television to admire the fact that here was a woman who didn’t have to sport a plunging decolletage, or feign a girlish admiration of some older male presenter. She didn’t care if she was liked – she just demanded respect. And this is the fundamental characteristic of the broad – she might crack a dirty joke, tell a story against herself, acknowledge the game with a sly wink. But it’s her game.
There are so few broads left – Madonna and Lady Gaga, perhaps (though the message gets a bit confused under all the underwear and raw bacon). So many high-profile women display that undercurrent of self-loathing that seems to come as standard. It’s as if we are too afraid to be seen to have it all – I’m going to make a joke about myself before you do! Yes, I make millions, and I’m at the top of my game, but I’m going to share my weaknesses so that you will still love me!
To be a woman in public these days is to be judged so hard, so instantly, is it any wonder we roll over? I’m guilty – I want to kick myself every time I hear myself downplaying my work as, “oh, you know, women’s fiction”. But in a world of social media the kick is faster, and the comments are harder to hide from, as from a purse-mouthed digital aunt who mutters: “Who do you think you are?”
Jackie Collins in The Saint on TV in 1963.
I know that sharing can be helpful. I know that understanding you are not alone with your anxiety/unfaithful husband/unsightly nostril hair can be a huge psychological prop. But sometimes I wish for more like Jackie: a role model with a steady gaze who barks a laugh at the vicissitudes of life, simply pours a stiff drink and reapplies her lipgloss instead.
It’s why so many women retain a soft spot for Kate Moss. She shares the balls-out “never complain, never explain” attitude that marks out a true broad. Jennifer Lawrence also has the sharp wit, glamour, and sense of a life lived on her own terms. And there are others: Amy Poehler gets it, while Miley Cyrus is showing potential (we’ll draw a youth-related veil over that Robin Thicke episode). They are hardworking, successful, smart. Like all broads, they do not alienate men – they adore them – but it’s other women who really love their company.
One suspects that if faced with an unwanted advance, Jackie Collins would not have gone the Charlotte Proudman route. At 15, confronted by a local flasher, she simply responded: “Cold day today, isn’t it?” She greeted the po-faced failure of guests to consume anything but water at her first LA cocktail party by drinking her way through the entire tray of Martinis.
Jackie Collins, pictured in 1989.

A broad understands that life is basically ridiculous. And the only human response to it is to put on a pair of heels, do your hair, and meet it with a smart comment. As she put it: “Barbara Cartland said, ‘Oh, Miss Collins, your books are filthy and disgusting and you are responsible for all the perverts in England.’ I paused for a few moments and said, ‘Thank you.’” Godspeed, Jackie. We need more like you.
Jackie Collins, left, with sister Joan in 2013 after being awarded an OBE.

Jackie Collins's final British interview: 'I'm still here, I love what I do'

Jackie Collins, left, with sister Joan in 2013 after being awarded an OBE.

Less than two weeks ago, as she contemplated her looming 78th birthday, Jackie Collins was in a firmly optimistic mood. “I couldn’t care less about my age,” she said. “I’m still here, I love what I do, and I have a passion for it … it’s better than the alternative.”

They did not seem like the words of a woman facing a terminal illness. And yet in Los Angeles on Saturday, the British-born author whose 32 books on glamour, sex and affairs in Hollywood were international best-sellers, died of breast cancer after being first diagnosed more than six years ago. She had kept the illness secret from all but her closest family and friends.

Even her sister, Joan, had only been informed in the last fortnight. After the news broke on Sunday, Joan posted a picture of herself and Jackie, writing: “Farewell to my beautiful brave baby sister. I will love you and miss you forever. Rest in peace.”

Sitting in a London hotel suite to discuss her latest book, The Santangelos, with the Observer, Jackie had been equally effusive about their bond. “Joan and I are the best of friends,” she said. “We had tea a few days ago and she sent me beautiful flowers when I arrived in London. We’re very close. People are always trying to pitch us against each other … Because we’re both successful. But we’re very different. Joan is incredibly social and flamboyant and she loves to dress up. I’m much more low key and much less likely to go out for lunches and dinners. She loves being out and about, and I love being home, writing.”
 Jackie and Joan in 2009.
Though Collins always gave journalists superb quotes, she nonetheless remained an enigma, giving away little about her private life. But this time she was in a surprisingly reflective and candid mood. And in retrospect, it’s easy to wonder if she was looking back on her life from a new perspective.
She was, she said, working on her autobiography, Reform School or Hollywood. “Yes, I am a private person,” she said. “But I have so much in my memoir I can talk about.” She was ready, she said, to talk for the first time about the death of her beloved second husband, Oscar Lerman, who died from prostate cancer in 1992, and about her fiancé, Frank Calcagnini, who she lost to a brain tumour six years later – and of what it means to care for a sickly loved one. “I want to talk about losing my husband and nursing two men through terminal illness because I think it will help people. And I want to help people. In the past all I’ve said about Oscar and Frank’s deaths is that I wanted to celebrate their lives, not mourn their deaths.
“But I wanted to write about the experience of caring. Caregivers who look after someone have a lot on their plate, and I know there’s people out there who would appreciate hearing how I coped with it. It’s very stressful and you are worried about them all the time and have to make sure they take their meds.
“My fiancé, Frank, was amazing. He was this handsome Italian who looked like a hero from one of my books. I remember taking him to the doctor because he didn’t feel well and had flu and so they took a chest X-ray. I’ll never forget that day. Frank came out of the doctor’s office to where I was sitting in the ante room and just said: ‘I’m fucked, I’ve got three months to live.’ Three months later he was gone. When he lost his black, thick curly hair, he didn’t want to go on. I lost my mum to cancer, too.”
But the memoir, Collins said, would also include plenty of the kind of salacious detail used to such riotous effect in the “bonkbuster” genre with which she is so indelibly associated.
“I might get to the end of my memoir and decide I don’t want to publish it but I don’t think I will,” she said. “I think I want it out there.” Smiling mischievously as she spoke, she explained: “I’ll talk about a couple of secret affairs I’ve had – one with a very famous man – which I think will shock people. We were destined to be together but when he was free I was attached and vice versa.” Still, she said, “I’m not going to write anything to wholly embarrass my children … But there’ll be some interesting things in there.”
Those secret affairs may now remain secret. For their part, her daughters expressed nothing but the deepest affection for their mother when they announced her death. In a statement they said: “She lived a wonderfully full life and was adored by her family, friends and the millions of readers who she has been entertaining over four decades. She was a true inspiration, a trail-blazer for women in fiction and a creative force. She will live on through her characters but we already miss her beyond words.”
Perhaps that affection was part of what made Collins able to take a philosophical view of her mortality. “As you get older you get wiser,” she said. “I can do whatever I want – I don’t give a shit about anything any more. As long as I have my family and my friends I’m happy.”

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Jackie Collins' Hollywood Wives the Miniseries

In this behind the scenes look at life among Hollywood’s movie makers, power-wielders and ‘beautiful people’, a major motion picture is being cast and every actor in Hollywood is vying for a part.

Thus the stage is set for Jackie Collins glittering and tempestuous exposé of a world most of us will only ever dream about.
Enter Neil Gray, the film’s proposed director who, although married to a beautiful and talented wife embarks upon an affair with screen sex siren Gina Germaine whose only motive is to secure a part in the film.
Meet Elaine Conti, notorious entertainer and wife of aging matinee idol Ross Conti whose greatest ambition is to relaunch her husband’s career.
Gradually a dazzling array of characters come into the limelight, all in some way involved with the forthcoming major motion picture Final Reunion, and all desperate to further their own careers.
Jackie Collins and Producer Aaron Spelling have conspired to produce the most exciting, sexy, steamy and compulsive soap opera of all time.

Jackie Collins' Hollywood Wives is a 1985 television miniseries based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Jackie Collins.

Hollywood Wives tells the stories of several women in Hollywood, from powerful talent agents and screenwriters to vivacious screen vixens and young, innocent newcomers. The mini-series generally follows the same plot as the novel, though it does omit certain subplots and characters.

Airing on ABC in February 1985, Hollywood Wives was one of the most watched miniseries of the 1980s. The 3-part, four-and-a-half-hour production was produced by Aaron Spelling, whose hit show Dynasty was no. 1 in the ratings at the time. Like Dynasty, costume design was by Nolan Miller.

Jackie Collins herself was credited as "Creative Consultant" for the miniseries, though she later made it clear that she was not actually consulted at all during production and was less than enthusiastic about some of the casting choices.

Hollywood Wives was nominated for an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Film Editing in a Limited Series or a Special" in 1985.
Elaine Conti - Candice Bergen.
Elaine is a Detroit girl turned Hollywood hostess, desperate to stay at the top while her marriage to former screen sex symbol Ross Conti crumbles beneath her. She is driven to improve her husband's career and her own standing within Tinseltown, but struggles to keep the secret that she is also a compulsive shoplifter.

Marilee Gray - Joanna Cassidy.
Marilee is Elaine's close friend. A wealthy Hollywood socialite, she is the daughter of a powerful studio boss and the former wife of film director Neil Gray.

Karen Lancaster - Mary Crosby.
Karen is the daughter of superstar actor George Lancaster, whom she does not get on with. Although friends with Elaine, Karen begins making a play for Elaine's husband.
Sadie LaSalle - Angie Dickinson.
Sadie is a Hollywood agent and star-maker who was responsible for Ross Conti's stardom in the 1950s, and is now one of the most powerful women in Hollywood.

Ross Conti - Steve Forrest.Ross is a fading Hollywood star, now in his fifties without a viable career.
Neil Gray - Anthony Hopkins.
Neil is a British film director. He is a recovering alcoholic, and although he is married to talented screenwriter Montana Gray, he is also caught in a seductive web with actress Gina Germaine.

Jason Swankle - Roddy McDowall.
Jason is a top interior designer who also runs a male escort agency which caters to lonely rich women.

Montana Gray - Stefanie Powers.
Montana is Neil Gray's second wife. A talented screenwriter whose new screenplay "Final Reunion" is one of the most talked about scripts in town, she is determined to break the glass ceiling of the Hollywood studio system.

Gina Germaine - Suzanne Somers.
Gina is a successful movie star but is tired of her role as a Hollywood sex symbol and now wants to be taken seriously as an actress. She is willing to do anything to advance her career, including blackmailing movie director Neil Gray.

George Lancaster - Robert Stack.
George is a beloved Hollywood superstar, a contemporary of Ross Conti's but still successful and in-demand, however he has a strained relationship with his daughter Karen.

Oliver Easterne - Rod Steiger.
Oliver is a Hollywood studio boss. Arrogant and abrasive, he cares only about getting box office results rather than artistic integrity.
Buddy Hudson - Andrew Stevens.
Buddy is a young aspiring actor and former male prostitute with ambitions of stardom. Now married to Angel, he struggles to hide his past life as he attempts to make a career as an actor.
Angel Hudson - Catherine Mary Stewart.
Angel is Buddy's new bride, trying to find her own way in a new town. Her beauty and innocence often makes her an easy target of the more unscrupulous residents of Hollywood.

Jackie Collins' Hollywood Wives

Hollywood Wives is a 1983 novel by the British author Jackie Collins. It was her ninth novel, and her most successful, selling over 15 million copies....

Hollywood Wives tells the stories of several women in Hollywood, ranging all the way from long-time talent agents and screenwriters to vivacious screen vixens and young, innocent newcomers.

After the novel's international success, it was adapted as a television miniseries by producer Aaron Spelling that aired on ABC in February 1985. It was a ratings hit, and one of the most successful mini-series of the 1980s.

Collins went on to pen several more "Hollywood" titled books, including Hollywood Husbands (1986), Hollywood Kids (1994), Hollywood Wives: The New Generation (2001), and Hollywood Divorces (2003). Although these further novels tend to be separate works rather than direct sequels, characters from the original Hollywood Wives have made brief appearances in them.
Main characters

  • Elaine Conti - a Brooklyn girl turned Hollywood hostess who is desperate to stay at the top while her marriage to former screen sex symbol Ross Conti crumbles beneath her. She is a compulsive shoplifter who lives in Beverly Hills. Elaine is a woman ruthlessly driven to improve her husband's career and her own standing within Tinseltown.

  • Marilee Gray - Elaine's close friend and the former wife of director Neil Gray. She lives a life of leisure, paid for by her ex-husband's alimony.

  • Karen Lancaster - the daughter of super celebrity George Lancaster. Also one of Elaine's friends, but that does not stop her from making a play for Elaine's husband.

  • Sadie LaSalle - a Hollywood casting agent and star-maker who was responsible for Ross Conti's stardom. Now one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, Sadie eventually discovers Buddy Hudson.

  • Ross Conti - a one time screen legend, but now a faded Hollywood star. Ross is about to turn 50 without a viable career.

  • Neil Gray - a top British film director and recovering alcoholic.

  • Jason Swankle - a top interior designer who also runs a male escort agency which caters to lonely rich women.

  • Bibi Sutton - another Hollywood society hostess and gossip.

  • Montana Gray - a talented screenwriter who is determined to break the glass ceiling of Hollywood studios. She is Neil Gray's second (and current) wife.

  • Gina Germaine - already a successful movie star, she is willing to do anything to advance her career and be taken seriously as an actress, including blackmail.

  • George Lancaster - a beloved Hollywood superstar and a contemporary of Ross Conti's but still successful.

  • Oliver Easterne - an arrogant, abrasive Hollywood studio boss.

  • Buddy Hudson - a young, aspiring actor and former hustler with ambitions of stardom regardless of his past life, and his new bride.

  • Angel Hudson - Buddy's new wife. Her youth, beauty and innocence make her a target for some of Hollywood's more unscrupulous characters.

  • Pamela Lancaster - the second wife of Hollywood star George Lancaster and the stepmother of Karen Lancaster.

  • Deke Andrews - a mentally deranged young man from Philadelphia, who makes his way to Hollywood to find his birth parents, leaving a trail of death and destruction in his wake.

  • Det. Leon Rosemont - a Philadelphia cop who pursues Deke across the U.S.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pratt and Phelps Lead Y&R to Biggest Ratings Since 2009-10!!

Chuck Pratt and Jill Farren Phelps Lead Y&R to Biggest Ratings Since 2009-10 TV Season!!

Since I've been writing for this blog, I can't think of two soap opera industry professionals I've been harder on than Jill Farren Phelps and Chuck Pratt. Okay, maybe Dena Higley. And Ellen Wheeler. And Chris Goutman. And Brian Frons... Okay, okay, I've been hard on a lot of these mofos! 
Sue me. I love this frigging genre and its self-destruction made me a bit, shall we say, cross for the better part of a decade.
At any rate, I can admit when I was wrong (my business partner Luke Kerr just burst into hysterical laughter). I thought the combination of the dude who gutted All My Children like a flopping cod at the bottom of a dinghy and the woman I nicknamed Jill Farren F*** Up would tank The Young and the Restless faster than you could say "CGI Tornado Babies".  I've never been happier to say my crystal ball needs a new battery pack.
According to the Nielsen report for the 2014-15 TV season, The Young and the Restless just had its best year since 2009-10. The CBS Daytime sudser averaged 5.21 million for the year and was up one percent over the previous season.
Pratt's patented brand of high octane insane storytelling (Roof cave-ins! Dueling doppelgangers! Accidental and on-purpose lady punching! Vapid teen-killing serial killers!) had me screaming and tweeting bloody murder, "This is NOT BILL BELL's THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS!!!!!!!!"

And it wasn't — not in the classical, psycho-sexual, slow-moving way Y&R told stories for decades. The reality is, Y&R hasn't been that type of show in a long, long time.  
I'm a bit of hypocrite. There, I said it. Ron Carlivati's version of General Hospital certainly wasn't what the Hursleys had in mind when they created their sleepy little medical drama back in '63.
Even masterfully over-the-top 80's era rebooter Gloria Monty might have been like, "Masks, Ron?"  While I didn't watch Monty's version and wasn't alive when the Hursleys were there, RC's GH being vastly different from previous eras I loved, like the Wendy Riche/Claire Labine tenure, didn't stop me from getting one helluva kick out of his zany jaunts.  
I lived my life for James E. Reilly's bat poop crazy arcs on Days of Our Lives and Hogan Sheffer's bizarre, nutso tales on As The World Turns. He sent three hookers to a rapid-aging spa, y'all!
Pratt really isn't much different. He likes the larger-than-life, incredulous aspects of daytime drama. So do I, as long as there's balance.
As for Phelps, the former showrunner of Santa Barbara, Guiding Light, Another World, One Life to Live, General Hospital and Hollywood Heights has managed to resist her prior penchant for killing off beloved veteran characters and seems to be infusing truth and reality into Pratt's macabre, ramped up version of life in Genoa City, Wisconsin whenever she can.  She also lured top talent Justin Hartley to the show as Adam Newman.
 Speaking of Hartley and Adam, the storyline featuring the black sheep with the pretty new face secretly working with pervy cult leader Ian Ward (Ray Wise) to exact vengeance on Victor (a top of his game Eric Braeden) has reignited the boardroom and bedroom rivalries of the iconic Newman and Abbott clans. I've been begging for this to happen for years!
Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson) finally has a purpose as CEO of Jabot and her daughter Abby (Melissa Ordway), Newman's COO, has a brain. I think she stole Aunt Phyllis's (Gina Tognoni), but I digress.  Jack (Peter Bergman) is settling nicely into the patriarch slot and Kyle (Lachlan Buchanan), well, he's nice to look at.  
Ashley and Billy's younger brother Billy (Burgess Jenkins) is once again in a tortured, against-all-odds romance with tragic Newman princess Victoria (Amelia Heinle). While the coupling lacks the heat it had when Billy Miller was playing Billy, there's promise.
I'm loving sexy, Latin newcomers Luca Santori (Miles Gaston Villanueva) and Marisa Sierras (Sofia Pernas). Dim-witted hottie Noah Newman (Robert Adamson) looks great sandwiched between those two!

Of course, Y&R still has its issues. When Sharon Newman (Sharon Case) looks at lover Dylan McAvoy (Steve Burton), I can't tell if that's adoration I spy in her eyes, or if she's desperately trying to curtail the desire to eat his spleen. Can we please make Sharon sane once and for all?
Also, when is daytime's No. 1 soap finally gonna tell a gay storyline? Kevin Fisher (Greg Rikaart) is in desperate need of a good same-sex 69. No offense to Mariah (Camryn Grimes). I'm sure her skills at mutual pleasure exercises are Grade-A.
Okay, okay, this is supposed to be an article praising Y&R. Congrats to Pratt, JFP and the CBS Daytimers. Things look very promising along Wisconsin's skyline. I know this because Y&R's 32 establishing shots per episode show me so! I kid. I kid.