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Pat O’Brien, a guest columnist in the September 3 print edition of the Hollywood Reporter, wrote this column about Lindsay Lohan, whose movie “Machete” opened the same day. O’Brien recently joined Fox Sports Radio’s “Loose Cannons” as co-host alongside Steve Hartman and Vic “The Brick” Jacobs. He is working on an autobiography due out next year.
Do us all a favor and take a snapshot of your life on this Friday, Sept. 3, 2010. By all accounts, you are reasonably healthy right now.
You are out of jail.
You’ve completed another rehab. Right now, people are buying tickets to your movie, “Machete,” with a formidable Hollywood cast. And you grace the cover of the new Vanity Fair magazine, looking ever the movie star with all the accompanying door prizes and presents: beauty, happiness, confidence, youth and that “have it all” look that the woman you are channeling, Grace Kelly, possessed. This is all good.
But hopefully, you’ll also take a look at the negative of that photo you just snapped … and ponder what life has been and what life can be. Indeed, it was Grace Kelly who said of Hollywood: “It’s a town without pity. I know of no other place in the world where so many people suffer from nervous breakdowns, where there are so many alcoholics, neurotics and so much unhappiness.”
From where we all sit, this is also a big part of your snapshot … and despite all the crazy and mostly embellished media coverage of your life’s journey, there remain a great number of people who are worried about you. I am one of them. I am also one of those alcoholics that Grace Kelly spoke of.
I’ve been through it, Lindsay. For me, there has been no jail, no courtroom antics, no ankle bracelet and, thankfully, I don’t have the paparazzi snapping my every move. But I, too, have the same demons you have, and it’s no fun. But there is good news and bad news about these demons. The bad news is that they never go away: We’re wired differently. The good news is that with a certain amount of willingness, structure and personal inventory, those demons can be arrested. And the ones who survive, like myself so far, are the ones who accept that these are the cards that were handed us and we don’t have to always gamble our lives away.
The important thing to remember is that this is your life and nobody else’s. And there’s no blame; it’s not the media’s fault or the paparazzo’s fault or even your father’s fault. He’s got enough problems of his own. It has nothing to do with growing up too fast or being too young or even the jungle Grace Kelly hated called Hollywood. It’s a seemingly simple, yet incredibly complicated disorder that millions of Americans share. It’s a brain disease that brings terrible and embarrassing consequences. There’s no cure, but with the right focus it can be tamed. [It’s] not my place to tell you how to do this because, by now, you know where to seek help.
The great late talk-show host Tom Snyder once asked me on his show, “What killed Elvis?” My answer was, “Not what, but who?” I went on to explain that nobody ever said no to the King of Rock and Roll and eventually that killed him. Nobody said much to Marilyn Monroe, either. The brilliant and talented Dennis Hopper had his demons and conquered them and died with years of sobriety, yet the 10th, 11th and 12th words in his obituary were “drugs and alcohol.”
It really isn’t any of our business, but we are all spectators in what has become a sad three-ring circus. We buy Vanity Fair. We buy movie tickets. We give up precious moments of our busy lives to watch some of those television shows looking for a rating by ambushing you. (Yeah, “The Insider” really wanted to do a story on your closet!) So we are invested in the Lindsay Lohan business, and I have to be honest that most of us are rooting for you.
On this Friday, your press is great. Your castmates are loving and holding out their hands in a snapshot you should frame. Take a deep breath and look at yourself right now and think how it would be if every day was like this: full of smiles and promises. I hope you’ve learned that this is possible. Many have discovered a new journey, and it’s a much more satisfying road with a better destination. You have to realize that the consequences of denial start to get much more serious than Perez Hilton making fun of you. Sadly, it’s well-documented that the consequence waiting for you could be death. To me, it seems an easy choice.
In the meantime, good luck with the movie, hand out the new Vanity Fair to your real friends and take life one day at a time.
Hopefully, I’ll see you soon. I suggest the nearest Starbucks.
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