CELEBRITY

A retelling of “A Hollywood Saga, Take One” by Don Martin

Written in 1977 for Mad Magazine

Rewritten by Captain Fun in 2006

First draft written February 2006

 


From the Hollywood Gazette:

RICK REMEMBER FOUND DEAD IN HOTEL ROOM!”

 

From the Nation’s Bugle:

“BODY OF REMEMBER FOUND IN HOTEL ROOM- DEAD!”

 

From the Daily Enquirer:

“REMEMBER BODY DEAD, FOUND IN HOTEL ROOM!”

 

Transcript excerpt from “The Hollywood Saga of Rick Remember”:

Do you remember Rick Remember? The star whose rise to fame only grew bigger from his mysterious death? Tonight, we’ll take a look at the life of the incredible actor as well as look at the mysterious death. Was it aliens? An assassination? Who knows? Who “remembers?” This is “The Hollywood Saga of Rick Remember!”

 

The Truth

(take one)

It started at his desk back at the bank. That boring bank job, where nothing ever happened. He wrote numbers. They meant little to him and he was beginning to wonder if what he was doing was actual work, or just some gibberish pushed in front of him. How he hated it there. He took a sip of Diet Coke. Diet. Another element adding to the dullness of his nonexistent life.

He was thinking about doing something else. Something other than bookkeeping. And that’s when the bus drove by with an ad on the side for a film.

Brilliant idea. Move to Hollywood and become an actor. Oh sure, easier said than done, but at least the work would be more interesting than credit and debit, credit and debit…

So he quit his job, hopped on a plane, and left for Los Angeles, determined to make it in the movies.

He was a little too eager, however, because right when he got off the plane, he excitedly shouted, “I’m gonna be famous! I’m gonna be famous!” This got a few stares, but caught the attention of Hector Bector, a talent scout who saw this excited little man as an opportunity. He eased his way closer to the now-embarrassed person and put his arm around him.

“Welcome to California,” he said. “My name is Hector, I’m a producer looking for an actor to play a part in…”

Omigod!” he shouted.

“So you’ll do it?” said Hector.

“Of course.”

“Great, kid, but first rule of moviemaking, always know what you’re getting into before you sign a deal. I could’ve offered you the role of some guy in a nudie film if I wanted to, but fortunately…”

“I’m going to be in a nudie film!!!”

“No, it’s a war film. But you’ve got spunk, kid, that’s great, now, what’s your name?”

He was stumped. “Good god, I’m so excited I think I’ve forgotten it!”

“Splendid,” said Hector. “You don’t need a name anyway. Titles just get in the way. We’ll call you ‘Rick Remember.’”

“My name is Rick Remember! My name is Rick Remember!” shouted the newly-named Rick Remember. A legend was born.

* * * * *

Transcript excerpt from “The Hollywood Saga of Rick Remember”:

And like that, Hollywood changed overnight. Remember starred in his first feature film, “Bombs Over Baghdad.” From the moment the director yelled “action,” it was clear Rick Remember would be a face America, and quite possibly the world, would remember.

End Excerpt

The truth was, Rick Remember’s film “Bombs Over Baghdad” was grossly over-budgeted and very poorly researched. So poorly, in fact, that he was given a World War II uniform during the film. Nervous about his “role” in the film, he confronted the producer, his friend Hector Bector, about it shortly before shooting.

“I don’t know about this, Hector,” said Remember. “I still haven’t been handed a script and this uniform doesn’t seem right for a modern war film.”

Hector smiled. “Ricky, Ricky… no, just ‘Rick.’ Rick, look around you. There’s the best boy. There’s the chief wrangler. There’s the armpit scratcher. This is Hollywood! We haven’t used scripts since before the Rat Pack and as for your uniform, think of it as an artistic statement! You’re not a soldier in a modern war, you’re a soldier in every war, dammit! And you’re not going to let some madman tell you how to live! Now get out there and play your part!”

Just then, the director yelled, “Action,” and all eyes were on Remember. It was now up to him to come up with something, anything to say.

“What war is this?” he said to the camera. “Does it matter anymore? Are we as a species doomed to keep on fighting the oppression that dictates our lives? What is my part? What are my lines? I’m through with fighting for some institution. Instead, I want to fight for every man, woman, and child who has ever looked up at the night sky and dreamed of one day reaching out to the heavens with the knowledge that what awaits them isn’t some kind of tampered dream but a beautiful vision of hope, a vision to fill their hearts! My god man, can’t you see the day? Can’t you taste it? Or are you so wrapped up in your own politics that your own arrogance has sewn your eyes shut? Seize this opportunity! Fight for the vision! My god man, fight with all your heart!!!”

“Yes! Cut! Print it!” shouted the director.

The stage erupted in applause as Hector walked up to Remember and embraced him. Remember, who now had tears on his face, hugged his friend and smiled.

“You did it, Rick!” said Hector.

“Did what?” said Rick Remember.

“You became a star!”

* * * * *

It was one year later that Rick Remember received The Award for Best Male Acting, the most prestigious award that can be given to a man in motion pictures. After the actress announced his name, applause and cheers erupted in the auditorium. Rick Remember took the stage and began his acceptance speech.

“I would like to thank everyone…” he began, but then his microphone failed, and so there were a few seconds of silence before everyone, who had just apparently been thanked, stood up and cheered once again for the gracious Rick Remember. Hector Bector came from backstage and ushered Rick Remember off.

“I didn’t get to give the rest of my speech,” said Rick Remember.

“Who cares?” said Hector. “You said the important part, and that’s all that matters. Keep in mind, you’re the biggest name in the world now.”

* * * * *

From The Nation’s Bugle:

AWARD-WINNER REMEMBER SEEN WITH CO-STAR ANNIE SMILEY ON HOT DATE!

 

It was shortly before filming began of Rick Remember’s fourth motion picture, a romantic comedy called “Lost for Love,” that he met Annie Smiley. Smiley had been in several films prior, mostly teenage comedies, but had gotten older and was looking for an older audience. The film “Lost for Love,” in which she played Rick Remember’s love interest, seemed like the perfect film for her.

The two had been casted and met at a restaurant shortly after the press release of their new film. Rick Remember wanted to meet her in a casual place, so he chose Mantoni’s Grille on Sunset Strip, which had an outside dining section where all the stars chose to sit and be seen. Remember chose it because he thought it would be more social. The press didn’t seem to care.

Annie sat down across from Rick, who was simply wearing an Underdog t-shirt and short pants. Annie was wearing a nice pink shirt and a skirt. Neither looked like they were on a “hot date.” The press didn’t seem to care.

“I guess we should be formally introduced,” said Rick. “I’m Rick.”

“I’m Annie,” she said. Rick smiled.

“Good,” he said. “Uh, ever been to Mantoni’s?”

“Yeah,” said Annie, “when I needed more press.”

Rick laughed. “Yeah, I, uh, kinda didn’t think of the whole ‘we’re outside in broad daylight’ thing.”

“It’s ok. I’m used to the press. It comes with the job.”

“Yeah. Me too. So, uh, why’d you pick this film?”

“Look, Rick, the press is going to be all over us. I can see about four photographers across the street right now. The rumors are going to be crazy. Let’s just play along, kiss each other, give them what they want, pretend to have a romantic relationship, and after the movie comes out we can part! Actors and actresses do it all the time! It’s called a Hollywood Marriage. It’s just a show. Everyone does it and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Really?” asked Rick.

“Yeah. It’d be good press for both of us.”

“Hold on,” said Rick as he took out his cell phone. “I need to call Hector on this one.”

Hector was all for it, so was Rick, so were the tabloids. It was a match made in Hollywood.

* * * * *

From the Daily Enquirer:

ANNIE SMILEY PREGNANT WITH REMEMBER’S LOVE CHILD

 

“You’re gonna be a daddy!” said Hector. “That’s wonderful news!”

Hector and Rick were outside Rick’s Beverly Hills mansion in the pool area enjoying a few martinis. News of the baby meant a few more martinis.

“I think I need another drink,” said Rick Remember.

“Hey, don’t worry, the kid’ll be fine! And so will Annie, after the pregnancy we’ll have the best plastic surgeons to work on her so she’ll look good as new.”

“The baby isn’t mine,” said Rick.

“Sure it is,” said Hector.

“No it isn’t. It can’t be.”

Hector took a gulp of his martini, then leaned forward to Rick.

“Of course it can’t be. You don’t think I know that? I know more about the real Rick Remember than you do. I even know your real name. And I also know that, aside from the occasional award show or movie premiere, you and Annie Smiley almost never see each other and, on top of that, have never had sex. However, understand this: whoever’s porking her isn’t anyone near the spotlight, so it sells more tabloids if the covers say it’s your baby.”

“Why can’t they just tell the truth?”

“Because the truth is boring. If you saw an article in the Daily Enquirer titled, ‘Joe Shmoe sleeps with Annie Smiley’ would you pick it up? Of course not. Why? Because it’s reality, baby, and you’re a celebrity, making your life a wonderful fiction where you make love to a wonderful woman who gives birth to a beautiful baby.”

“And what if the baby isn’t beautiful?” asked Rick.

“Oh it’s always beautiful,” said Hector. “You know why? Because celebrities almost never keep their own kids. These kids are going to be photographed as they grow up, so if a celebrity gives birth to some dysfunctional little brat, and given the ratio of the amount of celebrities who do drugs, that happens a lot, we send the kid to an adoption agency and have the celebrity adopt another baby of their choosing, usually one that looks much better. This is why you hardly see any celebrities with retards or gimps as kids. This is also why so many celebrities’ children become celebrities… because they look good.”

“Then what will happen to my child?” asked Rick.

“Why do you care? It’s not yours, remember? It’s just an act. You just pretend to be the kid’s father. Cast them in a movie with you or something, I don’t know! Make it look like the two of you are related because as long as you look like a father figure to them, you become a father figure to a whole new generation.”

“Do you realize how sick that is?”

“Hey, it’s the way we’ve been doing it for years. America has become the biggest country in the world because of Hollywood. And the reason is because of the way Hollywood is meticulously controlled and operated. What’s the capital of the United States?”

Washington, D.C.?” asked Rick.

Los Angeles. We just keep Washington around to keep up appearances. That way if we get attacked, Washington goes down but the real capital, on the other side of the country, stays standing. Now ask me who the president is.”

“Who’s the president?” asked Rick. Hector smiled.

“Wouldn’t you like to know. Now, who’s the father of Annie Smiley’s beautiful baby?”

“Me?”

“You got it, kiddo.” Hector took a bite out of his green olive. “Man, I love olives.”

* * * * *

It was two autumns later when Rick and Annie signed the marriage papers and had the largest televised wedding in history. Their son, Always Remember, was also there, although Rick insisted on not being seen with his “son.” It was a choice that both the press and the public failed to notice.

“So I’m married,” said Rick the next day to Hector Bector. “Now what?”

“Now have an affair.”

“What? Now?!”

“It’s never too early. Not in Hollywood. Annie’s getting too old to be in the spotlight and you, well, you’re just coming into your prime.”

“She’s seven years younger than I am!”

“Men age a lot slower in Hollywood. That’s why Roger Moore was James Bond for so long. You think a woman could handle a franchise as lasting as James Bond? She’d lose her sex appeal right around age thirty-two. Then what? Have her daughter play the hero? Hey, that’s not a bad idea…” Hector was lost again. Rick sighed.

“Did you see Always at the wedding?” asked Rick.

“Yeah, he looks great.”

“He doesn’t look a thing like me.”

“I know, but who gives a shit? He’s cute and cuddly. We should make toys modeled after him.”

“You can do that?”

“This is Hollywood, Rick. We put a man on the goddamn moon.”

“I think I need some time off.”

“From what?”

“This,” said Rick. “This ‘Hollywood’ you keep blabbering on about. This marriage I have to pretend to be interested in. These shitty films you put me in. The flash of the paparazzi cameras. Everything.”

“Great. I’ll call the Gazette and tell them you’re headed to Hawaii for a little R&R, eh?”

“No. I’m not going anywhere. I just need to be alone.”

“We are alone.”

“We’re sitting in a parked limo surrounded by photographers and teenage girls pressing their breasts up against the car windows.”

Hector looked around and, by golly, Rick was right. That’s exactly where they were.

“Hey,” shrugged Hector, “welcome to Hollywood!”

“You said that already.”

“I did?”

“Yeah,” said Rick. “A few years ago, when I thought Hollywood was a magical cookie that would bring me happiness and joy in my pathetic little life. And you know what?”

“What?”

“I actually felt welcome. Now I realize I’m just some tool.”

“You got really grim all of a sudden,” said Hector.

“Those pills you gave me that are really just sugar aren’t working anymore.”

“We’ll get you a new prescription.”

“Nah. I’m taking Tai-Bo.”

Just then the limo started to move.

“Good. Progress,” said Rick. Hector said something in reply, but Rick didn’t hear him. He was in a far off place. Somewhere far, far away from Hollywood.

* * * * *

Rick Remember locked himself in his hotel room for three months the following night and did not come out. He watched TV some and did nothing a lot. Little is known of what went through his mind. But one day he called the penthouse security officer and told him to bring in his most trusted friend, Hector Bector.

Hector came immediately. He knocked on the door lightly. The door swung open and Rick, who was fully bearded and clothed in a bathrobe allowed his friend to come in.

The place was a mess. Take-out boxes lay on the floor, vomit stains were everywhere, and there was muck all over the bed sheets.

“You’ve been busy,” said Hector.

“Yeah,” said Rick. “I just never let the cleaning lady in. I figured I needed to spend time with all of myself. Even the bodily fluids.”

“Yeah,” said Hector.

“Have you been watching the TV?” said Rick.

“Yeah,” said Hector as he sat on the bed.

“One news channel says I’m making a religious statement, another says I’m battling cancer…”

“Either way, you look good. The people like you.”

“The thing is, I don’t care about them. I just want to be alone.”

“Perfect! A new ‘loner’ side to Rick Remember! This’ll make you sexiest man alive for sure this year!”

This angered Rick Remember. “I was sexiest man last year! And the year before! Look at me Hector! I’m not sexy! I never was! You just put me in a movie and gave me a hot butt double and now all these hormone-ravaged teenaged girls are following me everywhere, not to mention the goddamn tabloids! All I wanted was a few little parts in some movies, I never wanted fame!”

“Kid, when I first saw you, you were in an airport terminal jumping up and down shouting, ‘I’m gonna be famous! I’m gonna be famous!’ I saw potential in you. Heck, part of me even liked you. So I gave you your wish. I took you under my wing. I made you the biggest star the world has ever seen! And the people, they made you too! They love ya kid. Heck, I love ya! It’s hard not to. But you’ve got to realize that being top dog in the entertainment industry is like signing your eternal soul over to someone. You are day and night for the people. Everyone is watching you, from your grannies in the nursing homes to the kids on the playground. But hey, you’ve got it good, kid. Think of it this way, if you’d had a drug history, people would’ve said you were getting high in here. If you were some weirdo they’d think you were with a prostitute. But they don’t know jack about you except for what we’ve told them! You’re a product, made in Hollywood, the first of its kind. No tormented history, just an average guy who made it big.”

Then Rick Remember fumbled through a bag littered on the messy hotel room floor and came up with a revolver.

“What if I kill someone?” he said.

“Who? Me? C’mon, the trial would last forever and in the end you’d be found innocent. This is Hollywood, there’s no justice here. Heck, the story’d probably turn around and make you a hero. You’d be even more popular than you were before!”

Hector chortled a little, but Rick wasn’t amused. He held the gun to his head.

“Then I’ll kill myself.”

This struck Hector like a blow to the stomach. Hector stopped laughing and looked at his friend.

“You couldn’t.”

“Yeah, I could.”

“Okay, you could,” said Hector, “but we’d still win. Nobody would give a crap that you killed yourself, only that you were dead. You’d become a product.”

“I already am a product.”

“So then kill yourself!” shouted Hector. “If you really don’t want any of this life anymore then kill yourself, but know this: your memory will be so idolized even Jesus would be jealous. You know how Elvis died?”

“Yeah, on the crapper,” said Rick.

“You think that’s how people remember it? No. People think of it as aliens or some kind of switcheroo, we don’t say he died on the john. People die the way we want to remember them dying. You killing yourself won’t even be mentioned, your point won’t even be made. Heck, it’d probably be as if you were always dead and that it was all a part of your existence. Then you wouldn’t be a person. You’d be a phenomenon.”

“Then I need a witness,” said Rick Remember, and he shot himself through the right temple.

For about a minute there was no movement. Then the security guard entered the room.

“Oh my god,” said the guard.

“Yeah,” said Hector.

“Did it himself?”

“Yep,” said Hector, as if he would admit to killing someone.

“You really hate to see them go like this.”

“Yep.”

“How will we say it to the press?”

“Heart failure.”

“Heart failure,” said the guard. “They’ll like that. His heart was just too big for one world.”

Hector nodded. “Something like that.”

* * * * *

From an ad taken out of the Hollywood Gazette:

SEE!!! Rick Remember’s Body!

TOUCH!!! Rick Remember’s Body!

HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN WITH!!! Rick Remember’s Body!

All for the INCREDIBLE low admission price of $59.99! CALL NOW!!!

 

 


About the Author

Nick “Captain Fun” Varnau is the writer of such short stories as “Amazon Jihad,” “E.S.P.,” and the “Suburban Ninjas” series. He also reviews films and has produced several productions, including the short-lived TV series “Cafeteria,” the “Star Wars” fan film “Rise of Romeo” (which he also co-directed), and the upcoming short film “Tis the Season” (directed by Sean Windle). He lives in Carmel. Email him at Stickboyprez@indy.rr.com.

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