August 2000

Those Hollywood moments

By Dori Carter
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To tourists who gamely trek down Hollywood Boulevard, avoiding panhandlers as they gaze at legendary names inscribed on bronze stars embedded in the sidewalk, Hollywood is an actual destination. But to those who work in the movie industry or aspire to do so Hollywood is an enigmatic state of mind, one that authors love to explore and expose. So what makes Hollywood run? In her debut novel, the terrifically titled Beautiful WASPs Having Sex, Dori Carter offers up her philosophy.

Written from an insider's perspective—Carter is a screenwriter, as well as the wife of "X-Files creato"r and executive producer Chris Carter—Beautiful WASPs is about an industry in which the players themselves are facades. For instance, struggling screenwriter Frankie Jordan wants to forget that she was ever Francine Fingerman. As Frankie wryly notes, "Francine Fingerman was born to be the president of Hadassah. Francine Fingerman wasn't a Hollywood writer." It may have been Jews who built Hollywood, but it was also Jews who perpetuated the myths enshrined in the movies including the myth of the gorgeous, seemingly carefree WASP. It is so enticing an image that even the industry's Jewish players want to be taken for Gentiles. Focusing on the struggle to survive, in a business known for failure, Beautiful WASPs is largely a series of Hollywood moments. There's the scene in which a writer and her agent "do" lunch; the writer's meeting with producers who "just love!" her script (but nonetheless offer a string of suggestions); the eventual destruction of what was once a thoughtful script; and the incessant efforts to climb, climb, climb.

Of course, what goes up will eventually come down or at the very least, fade away. As Frankie muses, while cleaning out her Rolodex, "Only in Hollywood can you redo your phone list, throw out your friends, and never miss them." But then, as Beautiful WASPs reminds us, there really is no business as telling as show business.

Pat H. Broeske is a veteran Hollywood journalist.

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