Adventures of Hollywood Jim Ch. 59byhollywoodjim©
"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING DOWN THERE!!?" Chuck yelled
"Hey, how was I supposed to know I'd be part of some DC scandal?" I yelled back
"I've got all the major networks snooping about, Sofia Vergara's agent just ripped me a new one and the boys at the New York office probably will too!" he roared "Jesus Christ!" he yelled as he slammed his fist on the big conference table "It seems like you've been nothing but trouble for me and this company!" he continued "since you came here we've been sued and then when I think THAT'S all behind us..."
Immediately I stopped him, I knew he might blame the courthouse shooting on me next.
"HEY! HEY! DON'T GO THERE, CHUCK! It was YOUR ex-partner that nearly killed me! I didn't ask for that and you know it!" I was livid that he'd even imply that the lawsuit and what followed was somehow my fault.
I was getting the full tantrum from Chuck Tyler in the wake of the scandal that had broke involving some Washington big shots who happened to be at Villa del Sol the same time that I and some others from Artists Unlimited were there for New Years Eve. Though we didn't know many of the details, it seems like what went on there was NOT in the best interests of their constituency. And when word got back to Chuck, and NBC broke the story, he immediately called me into his office.
Jeff Murphy, Chuck's second in command wisely tried to cool things down between us. While he was in the midst of his tantrum, I saw our lawyer, Michael Baldwin idly reading some documents, oblivious to the fireworks going off around him.
"OK, counselor" he said angrily as he turned to Michael "what's your opinion?"
Michael looked up at everyone over the glasses that sat low on his nose.
"Well..." he said in a bored tone "it's not a complete disaster...I've seen worse."
"But perception is everything, Baldwin!" Chuck yelled back "Sofia's agent tore my ass apart on the phone this morning. What if the Pepsi guys call next and cancel everything?"
"Start drinking Coke." Michael replied in the same tone without looking up from his papers, then quickly added "Look, from what I've seen it's just a lot of security tape footage and we can probably account for where everyone was that night, am I correct?" he said looking around at everyone in the room
"He's right, Chuck" Jeff Murphy, his second in command said "Jim was the only one in any kind of compromising position, and even that's debatable."
"No footage of his face is seen, either." Michael added before turning to me "Jim, did you actually attend this little, shall we say, soiree'?"
"No, I saw people going into a room there but I didn't know what was going on. And I never asked."
"What about the women, did you know any of them?" Jeff asked
Now I was trapped, I knew Laura was there with her friend Judy. I had a good idea what they were doing there, but no idea of how involved they were. She never told me when I asked. And even if she was asked, I knew she was no dummy, she'd probably take the fifth or something.
"No, I didn't know any of them" I finally said
"Then unless someone can clearly implicate him...why worry?" Michael replied
Chuck looked at me, and knew he was getting himself worked up over nothing.
"Aw, get outta here!" he yelled in his best Archie Bunker voice
Luckily I had someplace to be that day. The album Tigress had been recording in Jersey was out, fittingly titled "Back to Basics". And to promote it they would do an appearance at The Grove that would be featured on the "Extra" TV show. And their appearance would need photos, so I grabbed my photo bag and left to meet them and their manager Amy Adamson. The Grove had become a hot destination ever since it opened, and being featured every night on the show wasn't too bad either.
I found Amy and "the girls" soon after I arrived. We were all escorted to a small stage where Mario Lopez would interview them. I could see Mario going over things with a producer. He always seemed like "Mr. Buffed" whenever I saw him on TV. I swear the guy looked like a walking monument to the fitness culture even with his shirt on. Now that I'd seen him in person I either wanted to hit the Gym hard or drown my sorrows in a double bacon cheeseburger with curly fries and a jumbo chocolate shake.
Tigress bounded up on the stage and gave a typically glossy interview segment before going to a nearby stage to perform and close the show for the day. I snapped photos as usual and then noticed Mario's partner Maria Menounos off to the side. Once their performance ended, I made a beeline for Amy and suggested a photo with Mario and Maria.
"Great idea!" she said and called the girls over
I snapped a few shots then boldly turned the tables
"Uh, could I get a photo of me with Maria?" I asked
Mario immediately offered to take the photo
"I've had enough practice taking photos of my kids to do this." he joked
I hesitantly got next to Maria
"I know you're from Boston, I'm from down the road in Connecticut." I said to her
"No kidding? I once auditioned for a TV job down there." She said
"I hope you don't mind, I'm a big Giants fan too."
"Oh, now I know why you wanted the photo, so you can gloat over the Super Bowl, huh?"
"Well, the thought did occur to me."
We both laughed as Mario snapped the photo. I remembered how she lost a bet on the game and had to wear a bright blue bikini on the show.
"Thank you, Maria. It was, uh, great meeting you."
"Same here, maybe we'll see you down here again."
I could only give a hesitant "sure" in response as she went off with the show staff.
She was kinda cute, I'll admit.
"Somebody's got a crush on Maria." Amy said
"Oh, get real!" I said to her dismissively "If she doesn't like the same football team as me, why would I bother?"
"Sure, why bother?" Amy said with a naughty smile before giggling "OK, look, we've got to head out. The Grove gave us these passes for any of the restaurants here, have lunch on me."
"Thanks, Amy." I said as she and the girls got into their limo
After wandering around awhile, I found one that didn't have a mob scene of people waiting to get in, plus it had an elegant area for "al fresco" dining. I quickly got a table and took in the scene. People watching at a place like this was to be expected, as I looked around it seemed like a mix of power players and tourists, all on their phones or texting. A few tables over from me sat a pretty brunette in black flared pants and a shiny green top, chatting on her phone and making notes as she went. She looked familiar and when she spotted me, her face lit up and she waved.
It was Laura Austin, apparently in her daytime attire.
Laura quickly gathered her things up and made her way to my table, telling the waitress she'd be joining me.
"Well, hey there sweetie!" she said with a kiss on my cheek as she sat down "what're you doing here?"
"Tigress was filming a spot on Extra and I had to do the photos."
"Nice! I didn't expect to see you up and about so soon. How's the leg?" she asked
"Feels great, you barely see any scarring"
"Aw, I'm so happy for you. We sure had fun that day didn't we?"
"Any time spent with you is always, uh, memorable."
Laura held her hand to her mouth as she giggled and our lunch orders arrived. Memorable was certainly the word for the "threesome therapy" she and her friend Rita gave me.
"Now the question I have is what're you doing here? I thought with the news and all you and your pals would lay low for awhile."
"Why should I?"
"Well, aren't you concerned about the scandal and all that stuff at Villa del Sol? I just saw that Senator on TV last night and it didn't seem like he was kidding around."
"Which Senator was it?"
"The one from Nevada."
"Geary?" she said before nearly spitting out her drink from laughter
"You're laughing, that must mean something."
"Oh, my, my, my" she chuckled "How little you know Mr. Hollywood."
"How little I know?"
Laura now leaned in, apparently looking to make a point with me.
"Look, between what I know about this guy, and what Vickie's DONE with this guy..." she said while looking at me with slightly raised eyebrows.
I suddenly realized what she was implying and there was that moment of recognition as we said "Oh!" in unison
"Then I take it that if, shall we say, certain info came out..." I started as I picked up a kosher dill pickle spear "...he might find himself in a real pickle?"
Laura deftly took the pickle from my hand and gave it a little seductive lick
"Yes, he would." She said as she bit into it "there's hope for you yet."
She was no dummy, that's for sure!
"OK, I'd ask what you know, but I know I'd get that 'a good escort' speech I've heard before."
"Oh, I'll tell you what I know."
"Really?" I replied, stunned
"Uh-huh" she said as she took a sip from her iced tea "when my book comes out, you'll be the first to know."
The look on her face told me that once again, she'd trapped me.
"I just walked right into that one, didn't I?" I finally said
We both chuckled at her little flirtation.
"You might not admit it, but you're a keeper of secrets too." She said
"What do you mean?"
"I saw how you and Sofia were all cozy together, there's bound to be a few secrets about that night you'll be keeping locked up."
"Oh, sure...I'm like Peter Lawford with the Kennedy's." I said as I took a sip of my drink
"Right, you're the man who keeps the secrets. Just like that book about him."
"You know that book? You know about him?" I said, surprised that she'd get the reference I'd made, as obscure as it was.
"You never met him, did you?"
"No, I never had the chance. I heard he was a nice guy, but as he got older, he got weirder."
"Well, don't we all?" I replied
I had to admit she was right. I certainly was keeping a lot of secrets about people I met. Even more so, was the fact that more than a few of their secrets were hidden on my laptop and, more recently, my camera.
Note to self; make sure all secret photos are securely hidden.
"Let me ask you this, then. Was he the guy Vickie was meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel? You know, the night we first met?"
"No, that was a different guy," She said as she took another sip from her drink
"He hasn't been around as long as Geary but he's already learned not to tempt fate, trust me." She added
Just then a cellphone buzzed.
"Mine or yours?" I said as I reached for mine
"Mine" she said as she reached for her phone. It looked like a top of the line Apple IPhone in a bright orange case with what looked the University of Texas logo on it.
"Hello, this is Laura..." she said in a cool, businesslike, but still effortlessly seductive voice "Uh-huh, okay, that'll be good"
"Business or pleasure?" I asked as she hung up
"Neither, that was my car dealer. My car's getting serviced."
"No, I've got a Cadillac I use for everyday stuff, the 'Vette's just for fun. Anyway, they were calling to tell me their concierge service is running a little late."
"Well, geez, I'll drive you over there." I offered
Laura gave me one of her classic smiles
"Let's roll, darlin'." She said
And we were off.
"Man, you've got an awesome car!" she said as we headed down the avenue in my SLK "it's so perfect for you"
I had to admit, she looked great in her dark sunglasses, the breeze going through her black hair, the California sun out in full force.
"Yeah, I kinda like it too. Still have to pinch myself sometimes that it's really mine."
"You'll have to drive my Vette sometime."
"You'd let me drive that?" I asked, surprised at how trustworthy she was
"Sure, why not?" she answered "You're a good guy. You've gotta admit, that's some REAL machinery!"
"I'm sure it is." I said, trying to hide my enthusiasm for a dream machine of my youth. I could only hope she didn't have a Ferrari tucked away somewhere too.
"Um, what's your schedule like the rest of the day?" she asked
"Pretty empty, why do you ask?"
"Just a thought" she said as we approached the dealership
"Where should I pull in?"
"Oh, right there by the service entrance"
"Want me to wait for you?"
Laura looked at me and her face seemed to imply she had something in mind
"Yes, good idea, I'll be right back" she said with a smile
Laura hopped out of my car and went inside but stayed only a minute or two before quickly coming back out while on her phone.
"OK, uh-huh, right" she said in that same business tone before hanging up and giving me a look of disappointment. I had a feeling what she'd say next as he came over to my side of the car.
"Business or pleasure?" I asked
"Business, I have to meet someone. But I can't thank you enough for giving me a lift."
"Anytime, you know you can always call me" I said casually as I started up the SLK again.
Laura leaned in and her hand softly turned my head and she kissed me on the lips with the kind of long, lingering kiss that you always remember.
"...and you can always call me, too" she said in that effortlessly sexy voice of hers
I was speechless, as you'd expect, especially since I had a great view of her gorgeous tits.
"Until we meet again" she said with a smile as she went back inside
I had to take a small breath, just to make sure I knew what just happened, before I slowly pulled away from the dealership. I knew she loved giving these unexpected touches to everything she did with me. She obviously liked throwing me off-balance, that's for sure!
"Well, back to reality." I said to myself as I headed home.
Just then, the phone in the car rang, I never wanted to be one of those guys who chats on the phone while driving, so opting for a hands-free system was always welcome.
"Hey, hot shot!" a bouncy voice said "guess who this is?"
Only one person I knew called me "hot shot"
"Ah, just as smart as I remember, yes it's me!"
It was Jennifer Aniston.
It had been quite awhile since I'd seen her. The last time was in London during the shooting of her film "The Days of Rage". We'd first met before in New York during the Triple Threat Tour, but the time spent in the London flat we shared with a production assistant/friend of hers during filming was fun too.
"Listen, I'm gonna be in town for like a day or two and wanted to know if we can meet for a drink, I've got a little proposition for you" she said
"Where are you now?"
"At LAX, then I'm going home for a bit."
"Uh, how 'bout I meet you at your place?"
"Good idea!" she said "OK, I'll send the address to your phone, see you at like, 7?"
"I'll be there."
"Great! See you later hot shot!"
And just like that, I had the address to a much desired lady's home. Not to brag, but I'd become enough of a techno geek that at a stoplight I was able to enter her address into the car's GPS system and the directions popped up instantly. Never keep a lady waiting, I always say.
Jennifer Aniston's home seemed to blend into the hills and green brush around it. The gate was barely visible from the road, but the GPS system found it with no trouble at all. It silently opened and down a curving driveway revealed her home. It looked like a ranch house from the 50's with subtle touches around it that reflected its owner. The sunlight gave it a subtle glow as I got out of my car and looked around. I could see a silver Bentley in the garage and red Mini Cooper convertible next to it. There was an overwhelming calm to the place. The walkway to her front door was decorated with large stones surrounded by tiny white pebbles and I could hear a puppy barking excitedly.
"Hello?" I said looking inside
"Hey baby!" I heard from inside "come on in!"
Jennifer came up to me and gave me a generous hug and kiss as I walked in
"So good to see you!" she said as her dog scurried about "that's Sophie...come on, girl! Calm down!"
She crouched down to hold the puppy's head "Sophie...this is Jim, he's a good friend of mine...say 'hi Jim"
"Hi, hot shot" she said waving Sophie's paw at me
"Now that's a dog." I said with a smile
Her black and white pit bull puppy trotted over to me and was excitedly hopping about
"She probably smells my cat, that's why she's all excited" I said as I knelt down to pet her, she eagerly licked my hand and bounced around me
"Wow, she likes you already."
"Yeah, I guess I have that ability with dogs."
Jennifer laughed too before giving me a loving hug
"Man, it's been too long, how've you been?" she said
"Doin' good, how 'bout you?"
"Aw, the same old, you know" she said as she took a sip of wine "So, whatcha drinking hot shot?"
"Oh, whatever you've got there"
"Allllrighty, then" she said as she poured me a glass of wine
The inside of her home was beautiful. There were exposed beams and wide open spaces throughout, simple furniture, even a baby grand piano in a corner. On a bookshelf were several large art books and at the end of one, was her Emmy Award for "Friends". I could hear Sting playing, probably from an IPod hooked up somewhere, the speakers cleverly hidden in the walls or ceiling. Jennifer was busying herself in the bar area, there was a large, glass enclosed room off to the side that was lined with wine bottles, she had on a simple cotton tank top and blue denim cutoffs.
"So, you're back in town and going right back out?" I said as she gave me my drink
"Uh-huh, I'm going to New York at the end of the week, start rehearsals on a play"
"New play or revival?"
Jennifer looked at me with some surprise
"Since when did you become literate in Broadway? I thought you were only literate in stuff out here."
"Oh, I don't know. I guess that's something I've always wanted to get into, or at least know a little bit about"
"Well, it's a revival of Barefoot in the Park, I know that play's been done everywhere but nobody's done it on Broadway in a long time for some reason."
"Not bad, and you're playing the Robert Redford part, right?"
Jennifer stared at me as I tried not to snicker.
"Oh, you're such a comedian." She said with a sarcastic tone
"Hey, I'll take any compliments I can get." I snickered "Seriously though, I think you'll be really good."
"Thanks, I've wanted to find a good play to do there, it's where I started before I came out here."
"I guess it's always a challenge for actors, you know to go back to their roots as it were."
"Man, you always surprise me in some way."
"Yeah, you just have a great way of looking at things."
"OK, uh, then I'm a great looker."
Jennifer smiled at me
"I always knew THAT darlin'." she said as she leaned in and we kissed
Her kiss felt so nice
"Oh, I probably taste like wine, don't I?" she said quickly
"Maybe, but it's a good vintage." I replied making us both laugh
Sophie was barking excitedly around us
"I think she's jealous of us, my dog used to do that." I said as she stood up
"Nah, it's just her way of telling me she has to go outside. Bring my glass, we can sit out here, it's so nice tonight."
Jennifer got up to let the dog out in her large yard. I followed her out an immense doorway onto a modest patio and down a small series of steps that led into the yard and also revealed a beautiful swimming pool. Nearby the doorway was a large pool table that had seen some use. She had an incredible view of the LA skyline as you'd expect.
"So, what's this proposition you had for me?" I asked as she joined me on a large sofa that encircled a small brick lined patio.
"Ah, yes" she said as she took a sip from her glass "OK, have you heard of a development called Metro West?"
"A little, it's some kind of high-end apartments, right?"
"Right, Courtney is one of the investors." she said as she sat down next to me