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. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jackie Collins, chronicler of lust and power, dies at 77

Jackie Collins, the best-selling British-born author whose dozens of racy, page-turning novels chronicled the glitz — along with the sex, schemes and seductions — of the rich and the rapacious, died Sept. 20 in Los Angeles. She was 77. In a statement on Ms. Collins’s Web site, her three daughters said she died of breast cancer. The family included older sister Joan Collins, the actress known for her work on the TV series “Dynasty.”

Over a career in which more than 500 million copies of her books were sold, Ms. Collins set many of them in the film capital in which she was herself a prominent figure. Among the novels was “Hollywood Wives” (1983), whose characters seemed to be thinly disguised and dismayingly flawed versions of real-life figures. From then on, her work came to symbolize the fictional re-creation of the lives of Hollywood’s handsome and haunted as they navigated an environment of raw ambition and ravenous hunger for success and sexual conquest. Many of her books became feature films and TV movies.

Ms. Collins had made something of a splash long before that, with the appearance in 1968 of her first published novel, “The World is Full of Married Men.” A blend of show business and monkey business, it created the template for much of her later work.
In her lifetime, Ms. Collins experienced the evolution of critical and popular tastes and tolerance. Her first book was said to have been labeled disgusting filth by no less a literary arbiter than famed romance novelist Barbara Cartland. However, in 2013, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Ms. Collins the Order of the British Empire for services to fiction and to charity.

Although she had spent years living in an elegantly appointed Southern California mansion, Ms. Collins did not restrict her novelist’s eye to her immediate surroundings and was known for books about a family she called the Santangelos, with roots in organized crime. Its patriarch, Gino, and his “dangerously beautiful” daughter, Lucky, were the central figures. Her last book, “The Santangelos,” was published this year. It was the ninth in the saga.


The more her books sold, the greater her fame grew, and the greater became her access to the milieus about which she wrote. Few were regarded as having a closer acquaintance with the often-tawdry reality behind the glossy image, with the links between bedrooms and boardrooms, and with the sometimes drug-addled lives that were hidden from the prying eyes of the public. From what she would tell interviewers, it appeared that her characters themselves would at times guide her pen.

“I swim lengths in the pool at the end of each day — thinking about my characters and what they might do next,” she told the Wall Street Journal last year. “I don’t plan my story lines. I like to let my characters take their own direction, and the stories evolve as I swim.”

From that start, she never shied from writing about sex. This lack of inhibition, she implied, enabled her to create scenes and situations that actually proved instructive.

Many people would tell her, she said, that they read her as children by flashlight under the bedclothes, and “ ‘I learned everything I know about sex from you.’ ”For someone whose creative process seemed too fluid and unfettered, Ms. Collins was extremely precise, to the point of being finicky, in how she wrote. It was usually between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., at one of several desks. She wrote in longhand, with a felt tip pen, a ball point being unthinkable. After she completed her work on legal pads, an assistant entered the pages into a computer. She was firm about it. “To me,” she once told the Los Angeles Times, “writing is writing. It’s not typing it on the computer.”  The task of composition was made easier because of what she described as her excellent handwriting.
Connoisseurs of literary merit were cool to her accomplishments, and she was sometimes referred to as the “grande dame of trash.” She professed not to care and suggested that a double standard was at work.

“They don’t say the same things about Sidney Sheldon,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 1990, referring to another novelist known for steamy depictions of sex. “I think some people are bothered by the language. It’s strong, but that’s the kind of language the people I write about use. . . . But there’s no violence in my books. If there is, it happens off-screen. I think we’re too steeped in violence these days. But sex seems to upset people more than violence does.”

Jacqueline Jill Collins was born in London on Oct. 4 1937, to a mother who had been a dancer and a father who was a theatrical agent; she later described him as a philanderer. From childhood, she harbored a desire to write, which showed itself early on when she created bawdy limericks. These were sold to schoolmates for pocket change. Youthful hijinks led to her expulsion from school at 15. “I was thrown out for smoking, being truant and waving at the resident flasher,” she told Los Angeles magazine. That was followed by a visit to her sister, an actress in Hollywood, and an allegedly short affair with actor Marlon Brando.

Back in England after two years, she married at 18 to Wallace Austin, and they had a daughter. She described her husband, who was in his 30s, as a businessman and a gambler who became addicted to prescription drugs. They divorced.Ms. Collins then embarked on a small-time show business career, turning up in British action and ad­ven­ture shows, including “The Avengers.”

She married a much older nightclub owner, Oscar Lerman, in 1966, and he was credited with encouraging her in her early ambition to write. “The World is Full of Married Men” was published, to public outrage. She said the book was inspired by the many propositions she had received from married male friends. As she told it, newspaper editorials called it “the most disgusting book we’ve ever read.”It did comparatively well, however, which she ascribed to her being one of the first women novelists with a female protagonist who was both strong and sexual. Later books included “Stud” (1969) and its sequel “The Bitch” (1979), both of which were turned into movies starring Joan Collins.

Soon afterward, Ms. Collins moved to the United States and published “Chances” (1981), her first book featuring Lucky Santangelo, a character whose determination to steer her own course reflected the author’s personality. Lucky was the focus of such later titles as “Lucky” (1985), “Lady Boss” (1990) and “Dangerous Kiss” (1999).

 After “Hollywood Wives” appeared, provoking hostility in Beverly Hills and harsh reviews elsewhere, Ms. Collins defended herself by saying that she was only telling the truth about some women “right down to their tummy tucks, designer panties” and other accoutrements of decadence. It sold more than 10 million copies and was made into a miniseries, featuring actresses such as Angie Dickinson, Suzanne Somers and Candice Bergen. Sequels included “Hollywood Husbands” and “Hollywood Kids.”

Lerman died of cancer in 1992. Ms. Collins’s fiancé, Los Angeles businessman Frank Calcagnini, died of brain cancer in 1996. Besides her sister, survivors include her children, including two daughters from her marriage to Lerman, and a younger brother. She held American and British citizenship. She told a British interviewer in 2012 that she had been thinking about her legacy: “On my tombstone, I want to have the words: ‘She gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure.’ ” She laughed, “wickedly,” the reporter noted, before adding, “Take that as you will.”