Adalian Column: Doesn’t Hollywood Realize We’re in a Recession?

Feb 13, 2009  •  Post A Comment

If America’s headed for another Great Depression, somebody better tell Hollywood’s celebrity class.
While millions suffer through unemployment—and the rest of us wonder if we’ll be next—more than a few residents of Hollywoodland apparently have decided that now would be a perfect time to act like complete and utter fools. Among the more notable recent examples of showbiz stupidity:
Late Show With David Letterman
—A gum-smacking Joaquin Phoenix mumbled his way through an appearance on “Late Show With David Letterman,” virtually daring Mr. Letterman to slug him. It all seemed a very calculated attempt to either generate publicity or produce footage for a mockumentary he’s working on with Casey Affleck.
Whatever the rationale, Mr. Phoenix’s “performance” was insulting, to both Mr. Letterman and the audience. In troubled times, Americans need entertainers to distract us from hardship, not engage in self-indulgent performance art.
—“Grey’s Anatomy” star James Pickens Jr. told US Magazine his co-stars Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight would be leaving the show, as has long been rumored. Perhaps Mr. Pickens didn’t realize he was talking to a reporter. But even if he was tricked, why in the world would Mr. Pickens think it was his job to blab about his colleagues’ contract status, particularly given the endless drama that’s already taken place behind the scenes at “Grey’s” over the years.
—Ms. Heigl and Mr. Knight, meanwhile, didn’t have great weeks themselves. While they’re not responsible for Mr. Pickens’ big mouth, their previous utterances (or lack thereof in response to rumors) set the stage for the latest installment of “Grey’s” wackiness.
The fact is, it’s stunning—and yet not at all surprising—that either actor still appears ready to walk away from a top-five series. Have they never heard of McLean Stevenson? David Caruso? Julianna Margulies? Craig Kilborn?
Ms. Heigl probably prefers to focus on the fact that leaving a medical drama after 100 or so episodes worked out quite nicely for George Clooney. While that’s true, Mr. Clooney also took the classy route for his exit: He fulfilled the full length of his contract, never whined about anything and even came back to help send off Ms. Margulies’ character.
Grey's Anatomy
I have a feeling that, no matter how successful she might become, Ms. Heigl’s tenure on “Grey’s” will never be compared to Mr. Clooney’s “ER” run. She’s bashed her co-stars and producers in the press, complained about the lack of Emmy-worthy material she’s given and generally comes off as a spoiled brat.
In fairness, Ms. Heigl has to contend with an increasingly vicious media world in which the lines between tabloid and traditional press get blurrier by the minute. The pressure to land scoops that spike Web traffic has become intense, leading otherwise responsible journalists to write stories they probably shouldn’t.
Still, Ms. Heigl and her handlers have consistently demonstrated complete tone-deafness by allowing her on-set issues to turn into media fodder.
—Finally, another week went by without a settlement of the Screen Actors Guild contract standoff. The union is set to meet with producers on Feb. 16 and 17—barring another internal meltdown—but it’s hard to believe some members of SAG still harbor the notion that fighting with studios makes any sense whatsoever in the current economic climate.
Actually, given the behavior of folks like Mr. Phoenix and Ms. Heigl, I don’t know why I’m surprised at all.

Not everyone in Hollywood took leave of their senses last week.
At one point in the week I talked to reality producer Mike Fleiss about the stunning revival of his long-running series “The Bachelor.” During our conversation, I asked him why the show had gotten off-track for a couple of years.
“I’m the one to blame,” he told me. “The show was being phoned in there for a couple of seasons. We were a little complacent. I was off making my movies (“Hostel,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) and we all took our eye off the ball.”
Mr. Fleiss easily could have blamed bad casting choices, or taken a shot at ABC for not promoting the series enough. He could have whined about the 5 million “Bachelor” ripoffs that have flooded the market since his show succeeded.
Instead, Mr. Fleiss did something few in Hollywood ever seem willing to do: He actually took responsibility for his actions.
Imagine that.


  1. Heigl has never ever bashed her co-stars. She spoke up when one of them was a victim of a homophobic slur. Is that bashing in your book? She didnt complain about lack of emmy worthy material she simply didnt enter her name for consideration. When she was asked why not – she told the truth..and said that she didnt think she had good enough material to warrant it. She was right. Her storylines were awful. She doesn’t have on set issues at all – and she is the complete opposite of a spoiled brat – acting with dignity and honesty in whatever she does. She has never once said she wishes to leave the show. Also remember she is on $6 million a movie (more than she makes in a year of Grey’s). She is already the fifth highest paid female movie star in Hollywood. She has 4 movies already waiting on her..you can understand she is keen to move on particularly when she has been getting ridiculous storylines that the critics hate. If it was your job you would do the same. This press bashing of Heigl is ridiculous and very unfair.

  2. “Whatever the rationale, Mr. Phoenix’s “performance” was insulting, to both Mr. Letterman and the audience. In troubled times, Americans need entertainers to distract us from hardship, not engage in self-indulgent performance art.”
    Wow, so the future of the country is dependent on our celebrities’ behavior. A dubious notion at best, and at worst it elevates the self-importance of our idol classes to even greater levels, further encouraging their indulgences. Besides, the lemons Phoenix tossed were expertly turned into comic lemonade by Letterman’s quick wit, and the result was a segment that provided more laughs for the audience than most of his boring, normal celebrity interviews.

  3. To me Heigl is a spoiled brat. I don’t have a problem with her sticking up for George when Issiah went on his rant but she just doesn’t let it end there. We constantly hear of her fighting with other members of Greys (many of whom are 10x the actors and actresses she is). She doesn’t deserve Emmy material. She alone brings the show down 5 notches with her brooding and crying. Go away Heigl and take George, an equally worthless actor, with you.

  4. I can’t help but think there are more vital concerns toward which we should be directing our interest and ultizing our assets. Just how many newspaper pages are abused with full-color snapshots of various famous people, and how much bandwith is exhausted everyday by incessant ramblings of hollywood groupies?

  5. Lindsay Lohan is just not going to any place that’ll hold her from acting, so once again, I call Bull crap for this extreme intense inpatient rehab tripe. There is no way the girl or her mummy will overlook this chance to make bucks. And needlessly to say she will never loathe that scram bracelet enough to give up the jack and coke and give up stuffing sh*t up her ugly nose.

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