Jackie Collins begins 'Girl' whirl

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Many folks say they could write a book about life in Hollywood's fast lane, but Jackie Collins actually sits down and does it.

Her latest novel, "Poor Little Bitch Girl," arrives Feb. 9 from St. Martin's Press. An advance read leaves little doubt that "Girl," like many of her earlier works, will reach the big or small screen.

Collins' books have already sold 400 million copies in 40 countries, generating 26 New York Times bestsellers. Book promo pro that she is, she'll be talking up "Girl" on "Today" Feb. 9, the next day on "The View" and then on the syndicated talk show trail.

"Girl" has a triple power setting in New York, Washington and L.A. plus a quick detour to Vegas. Its story is driven by the murder of a Hollywood actress whose movie star husband's the prime suspect. Their estranged daughter operates a call girl ring in New York with her cocaine-loving boyfriend.

Throw in a philandering Senator, whose pregnant girlfriend wants to upgrade from mistress to Mrs., and a beautiful sex-starved young lawyer who went to Beverly Hills High with both of those girls and you've got a classic Collins novel.

"It's changed considerably," Collins replied when asked if Hollywood's different from when she started writing about it.

"When I wrote 'Hollywood Wives,' the book that really put me out there, that was in the '80s and the wives of the talk show hosts and the moguls and the producers ran Hollywood."

It was a very social town back then, she explained, with deals made at the tennis matches, dinner parties, home screenings and nights out that those Hollywood wives orchestrated.
"I don't think that happens today at all," she told me. "I think the whole industry today is run by business suits."

And that's the problem: "People who don't really know anything about the creative process are running Hollywood now. They have these bad boys who run around thinking, 'Ah, this is what everybody wants to see -- a 16-year-old boy getting laid.'"

However, she adds, when adult appeal hits like "It's Complicated" and "Sex and the City" come along, "Everybody says, 'Oh, they actually do want to see movies about women over 30.' "

Still, Collins is optimistic about the industry's future: "I don't think Hollywood's going to go away any time soon. It's still the golden ticket and everybody wants it."

Moreover, some really good films still get made. Name one? "Up in the Air," she says, was "fabulous."

There are still good filmmakers out there. "It's just more difficult for them to get a movie made because you can either make a movie for $2 million or it's got to be $80 million. Her passion for movies and movie stars goes back to her London childhood when she plastered her bedroom walls with movie stars' pictures.

"I was obsessed with Hollywood. I first came here when I was 15 and just fell in love with the city. I thought it was the most incredible place and I've loved it ever since."

Has the glamour gone missing? "What I think is kind of sad is when you see these awards shows and these actresses gloriously decked out and they look fantastic and then you see them in the magazines the next week and they look like hags. It's like the stylists are running Hollywood."
And less would be more when it comes to awards: "There's far too many awards ceremonies so they're not that special any more. I think the People's Choice Awards, the Golden Globes and the Oscars would be enough for anyone."

Being an outsider as well as an insider, she observes, is helpful.

"Sometimes I feel like an anthropologist crawling through the jungles of Hollywood and watching what goes on. If I were brought up here and went to Beverly Hills High, I don't think I would have the same perspective as I do now."

But Collins is more than just an observer on safari through the movie jungles. She's also a Hollywood player since many of her books -- particularly those starring her most famous character, Lucky Santangelo -- have become films or mini-series and she's written some of their screenplays.

"I wrote 10 hours of primetime for NBC," she said, referring to the hit miniseries "Lucky Chances" and "Lady Boss" that aired in the early '90s. "I love writing screenplays."

What she doesn't love is development hell: "You write a screenplay and then 10 people have their opinions. As a book writer, I write it and what you see is what you get."

She's producing but didn't write her latest film, "Paris Connections," a romantic thriller that starts shooting in Paris in early February with Harley Cokliss directing.

It's the first picture from Amber Entertainment, the L.A. and London-based company launched by ex-New Line execs Mark Ordesky (who produced the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy), Ileen Maisel and Jane Fleming and TV producer Lawrence Elman. Amber's films are being bankrolled by British retailer Tesco and will be released as DVDs sold exclusively in Tesco supermarkets.

See Martin Grove's Zamm Cam movie previews on www.ZAMM.com.
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