When A- Lister meets Z- Lister
A few months ago I got in touch with Gigi Levangie Grazer. For those of you who don’t know who she is, she is a best selling writer who penned the screenplay to the Julie Roberts/Susan Sarandon vehicle, StepMom and is married to one of the most famous and prominent movie producers in Hollywood, spiky haired dynamo Brian Grazer.
I told Gigi about my interview site and asked if I could meet with her to promote her novel, The Starter Wife. I read her other books and couldn’t wait to discuss The Starter Wife with her. We agreed on a time and place to meet and naturally I was beside myself with anticipation. Gigi is a gorgeous, accomplished woman whose connections to the A-listers runs deep. Surely we would hit it off and become friends and she would give me advice on my career and help steer me in the right direction. Gigi alone could make things happen for me. Surely! We might be best friends forever and our kids would frolic on the beaches of Malibu and we would shop and attend movie premieres together. My imagination got the best of me and soon I was planning spa trips together and skiing vacations in Aspen with our respective families.
I lamented about what to wear, calling my dear friend S. in a panic. “Whatever you do,” she ordered, “don’t wear jeans and don’t wear your hair all fluffy like you usually do. Pull it back. Be understated and elegant.” My hair is kind of big, but it’s the badge of honor I wear from my home state of New Jersey. Okay, okay, so I could wear my hair in a low ponytail but I didn’t want to wear my normal uniform of jeans because that would be too casual. I didn’t want to look like a hoochie, but I didn’t want to come across like a stodgy librarian either. Image is everything!
I nervously pawed through my closet several times, each time hoping a new Marc Jacobs ensemble would pop up. I began trying on different clothes and attempting to come up with something that would say, fashionista! Writer! Cool! Pulled together and charming! It was important that I come across the right way, after all, Gigi and I were going to be embarking on a friendship and this first step was crucial!
I finally decided on a cranberry colored skirt, a lace trimmed top and a knitted, caramel colored shrug with coordinating shoes and a cranberry colored Prada bag. I was armed with a small tape recorder and several witty questions. I almost needed an Ativan I was so excited. Yes of course I’ve met numerous celebs before and was totally cool and collected, but this was a woman who was not only successful in her own profession but was married to a man who practically ran Hollywood. I had much to be nervous about.
On the morning on our meeting, my friend T. and I drove to Los Angeles, fueled by venti non-fat mochas from Starbucks. Not a wise choice because the coffee mixed with my nerves produced an uncomfortable sensation in my colon. I prayed there wouldn’t be traffic on the journey to Beverly Hills.
“Did you read the book?” T. asked as we zoomed by a Barnes and Noble.
“Um..no, but I read all her other books and I did extensive research about her.” I said, fully confident that I didn’t need to read the book to perform the interview. Plus, I reasoned, I read all of her other books. Now, please note that each time I have interviewed anyone before and after Gigi, I’ve read the book, cover to cover. I take notes and am ridiculously prepared. This one misstep was a major faux pas on my part. The first of a few little judgment calls I failed that morning. Let's continue...
Gigi and I were to meet at 11am. I purposely didn’t do my full face makeup because I wanted to appear fresh as a daisy when we met at the ultra hip Urth café. I secretly hoped to run into Jake Gyllenhaal who is an Urth regular. I parked my car on a side street and in my teeny tiny car mirror, did my full face makeup and pulled my hair into a ponytail even though I wanted to hide behind a large coif. Big hair is my security blanket. I felt naked and vulnerable without it. But again, I need to scream Pulled Together Professional, not big haired mall rat from Jersey.
I left T. to shop while I strolled to Urth to wait for Gigi. When you are in Los Angeles, everyone is checking Everyone else out because Anyone can be Someone. A heavyset guy wearing an ear piece and a white track suit kept staring at me and I was watching him wondering if he was from William Morris. Would he notice my potential? Surely if I had the big hair going on, I would be on the E! channel right now. Even Ryan Seacrest started out with oversized and gelled hair.
Now here’s my faux pas no. 2. When I saw Gigi, I was so overcome with the excitement of meeting her (as well as relief that she showed up to meet me) I gave her a hug. A handshake would have been professional. The hug should have been held off until she invited me to accompany her to the spa for duel colonics. A hug is reserved for friends and relatives. As soon as I did it, I knew I committed a social crime. Suicide. Now we would never be best friends!
“Oh my God! You’re so… normal!” she exclaimed, shaking off the embrace. I found out she was expecting a boho chickie wearing Birkenstocks, driving a Mini Cooper and smelling of Patchouli. Not a fashionista with a French pedicure! Oh please!
Gigi and I ordered our food and I was very flattered when she told me I was pretty. Naturally I was looking fabulous: I had put hours into planning my skirt and shrug ensemble and had just completed full cosmetic application less than ten minutes ago!
I was equally impressed with her good looks. Gigi is like most of the woman in town: very thin and fit. Her hair is long and wavy and her skin is flawless. She is simply stunning. For someone so famous, Gigi has no air of pretension about her. Not even a looming bodyguard like the Olsen twins.
We sat down and immediately launched into a conversation that spanned all topics including breast implants, botox, children, husbands, writing, the Red Carpet, the Valentino dress she was going to wear to the Emmys and other things I won’t repeat because it was total girl talk. But Ill tell you this- I don’t know whether it was nerves or what but my mouth was off and running like those bulls at Pamplona. I told Gigi things that I don’t think my friends are aware of. I talked about my horrible high-school years and confided in her as if I had known her for years. She was just so…cool.
Gigi was quick witted and we had a good banter going on but I’m afraid I committed faux pas number 3 when I asked if I could come up to Malibu to visit her. I imagined walks on the beach and our kids building sandcastles while we sipped ice tea with fresh mint. I tend to be overzealous and star-struck at times and I think my smooth demeanor crumbled a bit when I hinted that I’d like to see what Malibu was all about, I’ve never been to the glorious neighborhood which is home to many A-listers.
“Well, did you read my book?” she asked.
Silence. So much for the Prada bag and mini tape recorder.
“I read every other book you wrote.” I stammered. “I was meaning to read it…”
“I describe Malibu in my novel. You should read it.” She sniffed.
We chatted so much, we never got around to actually doing the interview. This took place a few months ago and somehow, I never received that invitation to join Gigi for a night of dinner and drinks or a day at the beach while we would surely run into Jennifer Aniston and Britney Spears who also live in the exclusive community.
I can take the experience and tuck it away and reflect on it and now I know how not to be when coming face to face with a person I’m to interview. Gigi was just…so much fun! I wanted to sit and chat with her for the entire day and shop at Fred Segal and Kitson and hang out. While her life is filled with personal trainers and shopping and big events and all the very best the world has to offer, mine is…not quite the same. I thought perhaps a Grazer family Christmas card would find its way to my humble house but I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t. To be fair she doesn’t have my home address.This is what happens when an A-lister like Gigi meets a Z-lister like myself. Hugs and social ineptitudes combined with ill- timed mentions of invites up to Malibu.
For the record, I’d like to say that The Starter Wife is a hilarious book and you should buy it and read it and school yourself in the Hollywood life. Or study up before you go head to head with a famous wife in Beverly Hills. I’m just thankful I didn’t meet with Jake G. Can you imagine how embarrassing that would have been? On the other hand, maybe he is a hugger?