Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Release Day: Finding Mr. Right!

Helen here and before I get into my actual post I have to tell everyone that today is the official release day for my fourth book, Finding Mr. Right. It’s more of a romantic suspense than an adventure romance, but it’s a lot like Treasure my RITA winner in tone and pacing. Plus the book received a 4 ½ star Top Pick from Romantic Times, so do me a favor and go out and buy it! Now before it’s gone. You know those series romances, on the shelf today, gone tomorrow. And once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.

And to celebrate the release, I’m giving away a copy of Mr. Right today!

Now that I got that out of the way …

As I was walking through the family room the other night, my dh was surfing through the channels and stopped on the movie Boys Don’t Cry, the one where Hilary Swank won best actress for playing a transgender character.

I’d already seen the movie way back when and thought it was amazing from a critical standpoint. But I sure as heck did NOT need to see it again and anyone who’s seen the movie is very likely with me on this. In any case, like a train wreck, I stopped, sat down, and watched for a few moments, and all of it came back in a rush.

Except for the part (spoiler here) where I had previously blocked out Peter Sarsgaard playing the homophobic, violent creep who rapes and murders Hilary Swank’s very likeable, if not sad and confused, character.

See I happen to like Peter Sarsgaard. So the first time I saw the movie, my mind had very likely rejected the notion that he could play such a yucky character.

Don’t ask me why I like him. He often plays not very likeable sometimes entirely forgettable characters. There’s just something about the way he talks, or the tone of his voice, or his heavy lidded eyes that gets me all weak kneed whenever I see him on the screen. So there I am, remembering the character he played in this movie my dh is watching and I’m going “Ewww!” How could he do that part?

So there’s my point. What is it about celebrity that makes us all go “Oooh” and “Aaah?” So why do we give these people both heroic and villainous characteristics, depending upon whether or not we like them as people? Why do we impart the characteristics of the parts actors and actresses play in movies or TV to them as real people? As if we could ever know them as people. They are, after all, just men and women, like us who happen to act for a living. Some of them are very, very good at what they do, but that doesn’t make them any more wonderful or evil as people.

It's not like actors set out to try and make a difference in their chose profession, like politicians have supposedly done, so why are we so disappointed when they do really stupid things, like think Alec Baldwin screaming over the phone and calling his daughter a pig.

So sorry if I’m bursting bubbles here, but my heavens. Look at Mel Gibson. He’s played some of the most heroic characters I can think of in movies like Braveheart and the Patriot. And yet I was flabbergasted and hugely disappointed when he was pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence and goes on all anti-Semitic.

Robert Downey Jr is another one. I love, love, loved him in Iron Man, not to mention almost every other movie he's been in, and I really hope he’s gotten things figured out and this new health kick he’s on isn’t just about having this wonderful wife making him clean up his act. But this guy’s personal life is really a screenplay in and of itself, and yet I see him through all these wonderful roles he’s played through the years.

And it’s not that I just give all these heroic personal characteristics to actors that I love. Oh, no. It goes both ways.

Take Tom Cruise for example. I can’t stand the guy and that colors all of his movies for me, despite the fact that he’s a great actor.

Why do we make actors and actresses so much larger than life? Can you think of an actor or actress whose real life persona impacted your enjoyment of a movie? A situation where an actor or actress did something that disappointed you? And most importantly why is Mel smiling in that picture?

For the heck of it , here are a few more reality check pictures. Don't say I didn't warn you!



Anonymous said...

I'd love a copy of Finding Mr. Right! It's on my "to get" list. I really enjoyed Treasure, too. Debbie A.

Kylie said...

Congrats on the book release, Helen! It sounds fabulous!

And I loved your post :) It's like when we were talking about Paul Newman the other day. And how his ultra-heart throbbiness (how's that for a made up word?) intensified because he was such a wonderful human being.

Celebrities are no better or worse than anyone else, but their flaws are magnified because they show up on the nightly news, LOL!

Like you, Tom Cruise holds a huge ICK factor for me. Some people the more you know, the less you find to like. And Mel, oh Mel, I was so sad when you got arrested. Sigh. Another hero with feet of clay.

I still think Boys Don't Cry is a powerful movie, and that Hilary Swank is one of the best actresses of our time. But it was one of those movies that I watched and thought, 'That was great. I don't ever want to see it again!'

Keri Ford said...

Congrats on teh release! And thanks for the spoiler. I haven't seen boys don't cry, but the romantic in me hates movies with endings like that...I mean, I've just spent about 2hours with you and you died! How's that for disappointment.

I try to remember that those people in the movies are just characters, but when stars tend to lend themselves to the same characters all the time, it's hard to NOT put those characteristics with the actors.

Helen Brenna said...

Yeah, Debbie A - thanks for posting!

Kylie, thanks for bringing up the other side to this post - I'd forgotten about Kathy's post on Paul Newman, but you're so right. And yeah I suppose I could be a little more charitable. We do tend to put celebrities under a microscope. Lord knows, I wouldn't survive that scrutiny.

Keri - so sorry. It's really an amazing movie, so it might still be worth you seeing it.

Anonymous said...

Why are actors and actresses so much larger than life? Because we make them that way and the let the hype build up.

We make them larger by wishing that we were them or that we had their life. We, as people, need to stop doing that. I mean look at how much trouble it gets them-and us--in!

Playground Monitor said...

Geez. I haven't eaten yet and might not after seeing that photo of Nick Nolte. LOL!

These people ARE larger than life when viewed on a movie screen, and like Lou said, the viewing public builds them up. And then when they fall, we're usually the first to jump on the criticism bandwagon that's rolling over them. I'm guilty of falling off the fan wagon for certain actors, Tom Cruise being the major one. I refuse to watch another of his movies because I don't want to put money in his pocket. Didn't his studio drop him because of the negative controversy surrounding him?

For those who get into trouble with drugs and alcohol -- I have to hope they'll get help and recover. I'm sure the stresses of Hollywood are their excuse for their addictions, but look at the huge number of actors who don't have substance abuse problems. And then there's the sad tale of Judy Garland whose own studio gave her drugs. Such a tragic tale and a tremendously talented life cut short.


Christie Ridgway said...

Helen: Eeek! Those photos! Before mug shots are taken they should let people comb their hair.

I won't go see movies with certain actors in them, and I still wince when I see Brad Pitt in tabloid photos at the grocery store because I just cannot like Angelina. It's silly, I suppose, but must be human nature.

Betina Krahn said...

I believe it's called "projection." The psychological principle of bestowing on other people our own motivations, problems, quirks, fixations, and desires. In the case of movie stars, we're bestowing/projecting all of our fondest dreams and desires. . . or in the case of villains, our fears and dreads. We live through them when they're on the big screen, so when they let us down in real life, we feel betrayed.

Enough psy-stuff. Even when I remind myself "they're just bleepin' actors" I still can't help building them into something I need or want them to be. that's the magic of the medium.

That said, I've been wholly disappointed by Mel Gibson, formerly one of my faves. I now avoid his movies like the plague. Not thrilled about Tom Cruise, either-- mostly avoid his flicks. nnot real thrilled abouto Russell Crowe's off screen antics, either, but I still go to see him in movies. Also sad about David Duchovny-- still rooting for him to do well.

Interestingly, a guy like Jeremy Irons, who plays both heroes and villains-- I can remain more sane about. Maybe I don't project as much on him because I see him different ways.

Also-- with all the hype about Brad Pitt-- anybody recall seeing amovie where his ACTING blew you away? "Troy" was decent, but not awe-inspiring. "Legends of the Fall" was where he got his image, but a lot of his roles since have been strange and some even a little off-putting. "12 Monkeys", "Fight Club", "The Assassination of Jesse James. . .", "Burn After Reading." "Oceans" 11, 12, and 13 were little more than cameos.

I'm just trying to account for his status as a minor deity in our society. Anybody think of a film of his that really blew you away?
Share. Please.

Betina Krahn said...

I almost forgot-- congratulations, Helen, on baby number four! "Finding Mr. Right" looks splendid! I'm headed for the book store this evening!

Also-- remember the scandal when Hugh Grant got caught with a hooker? He was at the height of his movie fame. So many women were disillusioned.

Liza said...

Congrats on the release Helen.

I loved Tom Cruise until he started acting like a crazy person(jumping up and down on Oprah's sofa was the first sign), now I won't even watch his movies.

I do however still love Robert Downey Jr after everything he has done. He at least has tried to get help and re-invent himself.

Michele Hauf said...

Oh Nick Nolte, you dog, you! Poor guy. I used to have a thing for that guy....eons ago. Can't remember some of his better roles in his heydays, though.

Hey, Betina, you listed all the Brad Pitt movies I DO like. :-) I don't find the guy particularly attractive, but I do like him in movies where he plays whacko. Fight Club! And BUrn he was the one bright point in the movie. I'm looking forward to Benjamin Button.

It's interesting, after seeing The Duchess, to realize that we are not unique as a 21st century society. People have been glamourizing and worshipping celebrities for ages, and scandalizing them in gossip pamphlets...perhaps even on wax tablets. It's just something we do, and obviously it must play a part in our world. Not sure what part. Don't care. I have my fav celebs, and it's fun to follow their movies.

Debra Dixon said...

Yay for the new release, Helen!

Regarding celebrities, I think we have such strong reactions because they are asking us to spend time with them. Whether it's through a movie or through news, we are taking them into our lives. Each of us has different standards, different tolerances for behavior and different triggers for suspicion and dislike.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Helen, number 4 already? You've been going great guns since #1, which seems like only yesterday. Congratulations!

Helen Brenna said...

Lou - you're right, but what Betina pointed out is interesting. How do we immerse ourselves in the characters in movies without projecting?

Marilyn - Yeah, that one of Nick Nolte is something isn't it? Saved the best for last.

Christie - let me comb their hair ... LOL You're are so adorable! I feel the same way about Brad and Angelina. Can't seem to like her despite all her humanitarian efforts. I think I'm secretly jealous.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Last week we talked about Paul Newman being a hero on and off screen, his long marriage to Joanne Woodward so amazing and wonderful. But Helen's post reminds me that back when I was a kid discovering Paul, my mother mentioned that he'd left his wife for Joanne and "almost ruined his career." And hers, although she was less well-known.

Helen Brenna said...

Betina - I had to google David Ducovny to find out what you were talking about. Entering treatment for sex addiction. Sad, and I too hope he comes through it okay.

You brought up Jeremy Irons - that's so interesting. He is someone I can totally take professionally. He's private too, so maybe that's a big part of it.

Brad Pitt - I thought his acting in 12 monkeys was amazing. And taken collectively, I can't ignore his talent, not that I want to!

That pic of Hugh Grant is from when he was busted for that hooker deal. Look at that face. There's a guy who knows the earth just fell out from under him.

Helen Brenna said...

Liza - I never did see that Tom Cruise Oprah thing. His whole thing about anti-depressants is what killed it for me. Who the h--- does he think he is?

Oh, and don't get me wrong about Robert Jr. I love the guy despite it all!

Helen Brenna said...

Michele - I used to have a big thing for Nick Nolte too. The first time I remember seeing him was on the made for TV movie Rich Man Poor Man. That started it for me. Cannery Row was a good movie. He started out with a couple good ones and then bombed with a couple.

Helen Brenna said...

Good point, Deb! Makes sense. We give them something of ourselves and they disregard by disappointing us back.

Kathy - I think we all just glazed over that bit about Paul Newman leaving his wife for Joanne Woodward because he's been such a great guy since then and stayed with her for 50 years.

I guess we're more lenient with people we like.

Kathleen Eagle said...

People haven't changed much over the centuries, but the widespread availability of info about EVERYBODY is pretty new. There's almost no such thing as privacy for these people. Not that mug shots should be private, but the media aims so much stuff at our baser nature and so little at our intelligence or our nobler instincts or even the healthy side of our curiosity. And we're buying it.

I do worry about the demise of privacy. Maybe it'll turn out to be the great leveler. If everyone lives in a glass house maybe nobody throws stones.

Have we stumbled on the answer for world peace?

Kathleen Eagle said...

I meant have we stumbled *onto* the answer for world peace?

Helen, maybe if Brangelina stay married for 50 years they'll be redeemed.

Divorce was kind of scandalous in mainstream America back then, even though Hollywood did it a lot. Sad story for Spencer Tracy and Kathrine Hepburn. But they were able to have a somewhat private life in the face of it all.

D Twomey said...

Congratulations Helen!

Picked up your book last night.....

I guess my disappointment regarding celebrities usually centers around their relationships. I get very disappointed when someone I admire (usually because they seem to have beaten the odds and proven you can have a normal happy and long marriage/relationship even in Hollywood) splits with their spouse/significant other. Harrison Ford and Kevin Costner come to mind... I felt very let down when they got divorces. Just thought they had it all figured out I guess. As to some of the others?

Tom Cruise-yes, he moved down on my list with the couch jumping thing, but had already fallen quite far when divorcing Nicole Kidman because of my perception of how he treated her at the time.

Brad Pitt-he moved WAY down on my list with the Angelina thing... I like Jennifer Aniston and felt really badly for her.

Angelina Jolie-i don't suggest that she's not a great humanitarian and actress..... but come on, she did cheat with Brad on Jennifer, right?

Mel Gibson-disappointed in the arrest for under the influence, really really disappointed in the anti-Semitic stuff.

Paul Newman-I didn't know he left his first wife for Joanne Woodward... hmmmmmmm......

I've got to stop being so judgmental. As was said earlier, they are just like all of the rest of us. Lord knows I'm not perfect!

lois greiman said...

Helen, huge congrats!! You make us proud.

Betina, I looooooooved Brad Pitt in Joe Black. Yikes.

But you know, everyone disappoints us at one time or another don't they? Whether they're mortals like the rest of us or demi-gods like the Hollywood types.

Helen Brenna said...

Kathy, some celebrities manage to keep some privacy. But when you sell pics of your babies to the highest bidder - even though the money goes to charity - aren't you kind of asking for it?

Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn - I always felt kinda bad for Spencer's wife. Wonder what life was like for her?

Diane - yeah, I'm with you. Harrison Ford and Costner were disappointments. And then do the cliched thing and go for the younger women. Bummer.

Okay, Lois, there you go shedding some reality and compassion on my day.

Maureen said...

Congratulations on the new book! I completely agree with you on Tom Cruise. I used to really enjoy his movies but since he became so bizarre I just can't stand to watch him.

Claire Winston said...

Tom Cruise lost me when he attacked Brooke Shields about her use of antidepressants for post partum depression. Where did Cruise get his medical degree? His interview with Matt Lauer was just bizarre. Not that I really thought he was such a great actor, but now I won't watch him.

I can handle celebs having opinions, but when they jump from having an opinion to slamming those whose opinion is different, that's when I draw the line.

Elizabeth Hasselbeck is another who's getting tiresome. She's entitled to her right-wing views, but she makes herself such a big target and then whines about it so much. Don't complain if you're going to set yourself up like that.


Cindy Gerard said...

Helen - sweetie - congratulations on book #4! Woo Woo!!! I'm so excited for you. You're not a newbie any more.

I can't add much to what everyone else has said but I want to THANK you for that photo of Heath L - she's always just too perfect :o) But I've gotta ask - who is the other woman? I don't recognize her. Am I that out of touch or does she look that different then her pub shots?

Jane said...

Hi Helen,
Congrats on the new release. I'm a big fan of Russell Crowe and was shocked when I heard he assaulted a hotel worker with a phone. He seemed to be genuinely sorry for what he did and apologized.

Betina Krahn said...

Oooooh, "Meet Joe Black" good flick, Lois-- I forgot about that one.

But what is it that makes Brad Pitt the ultimate media god he is today? I mean he's nice looking, but Hollywood is filled with great lookin' guys. And he's a good actor-- sometimes bordering on great-- but there are lots of great actors who don't get that mobbed with that kind of attention. Is it the fact that Jennifer Aniston (America's sweetheart) was married to him and he got wiled away by Angelina? (Same thing happened to Debbie Reynolds--Eddie Fisher-- Liz Taylor back in the day) (then with Richard Burton and wife and Liz Taylor) (Apparently Liz just couldn't keep her hands to herself.)

Because I think Brad's waaaaay oversold in the celebrity department. He almost never plays a romantic lead or even a heroic role anymore. And certainly not in anything big box office. Was "The Asassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" even in the theaters near you?

Is his private life keeping his career afloat these days?

Hey, all you avid Brad fans, I'm just askin'.

Estella said...

I don't like Brad Pitt, so never see his movies. Can't help it, he disgusts me.

flchen1 said...

Congrats, Helen! Treasure was fabulous--I'm looking forward to Finding Mr. Right (maybe at the bookstore ;))

I have to say that some of those photos are truly bubble bursting! I guess that it's easy to forget that part of the celebrity persona we see is completely airbrushed and spin-doctored, and that there's a real person behind there who sometimes is fabulous and sometimes makes boneheaded decisions that completely horrify us.

I do find it hard to enjoy watching actors or actresses whose personal lives mortify me--I'm willing to cut them some slack for stuff that I probably shouldn't even know about, but for instance, Tom Cruise's way-out-there moralizing is something I can't overlook.

Thanks for the fun post!

Helen Brenna said...

Hi Maureen!

Claire, that's what I'm talking about!

Cindy, sorry, no Heath Ledger up today. That last one is Nick Nolte and the two women are Heather Locklear, first and Mischa Barton, second. And, yes, that means you're, I won't say out of touch. Working too hard? LOL

Hey, Jane. Russell one of those I seem to be very forgiving toward. Can't imagine why.

Brad's just got that sexy thang going, Betina, besides being an amazing actor. And he works a lot, or did, so he's out there alot.

Hey Estella! Tell us how you really feel. LOL Love it.

Hey flchen- rack up another ex-Tom fan!

catslady said...

I agree with all the disappointments already mentioned but have to add two . I'm a big proponent against assault weapons the the scare tactics the NRA has used to scare everyone into thinking hunting guns etc. will be taken away - anyway Charleton Heston and Tom Selleck were each a head of this organization and of course very vocal on the subject. I haven't watched a movie with either of them since - extreme maybe - but I can't separate them anymore.

Helen Brenna said...

That's an interesting point, catslady. The politics of actors and actresses has definitely affected my view of them. Some are very vocal. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins come immediately to mind.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Well, it's Wed morning, but this topic still interests me...

I loved Debbie Reynolds and remember being one very angry little girl when that mean ol' Liz stole Debbie's hubby. But I still loved "Black Beauty." Liz sure has had her share of hubbies--plus a few other people's share--but she's done so much to raise AIDS awareness (from back in the day when it wasn't so popular to do so) and cash for the cause. And she's suffered a lot in her personal life.

I wonder what it's like to walk in some of these people's shoes... Don't get me wrong...there's a part of me who's perfectly willing to tar and feather the other woman. Or man. Pillory that sucker. Put 'em in the stocks. Really, there are times when I think we oughta bring back the stocks. And I'm not talking bailout here. People need to behave themselves!

But pedestals are for works of art, not human beings.