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04 December 2023

Author who is really a businesswoman

Jackie Collins's books have sold 400 million copies, generating 26 New York Times bestsellers. (GETTY IMAGES)

By Martin A Grove

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 new novel, Poor Little Bitch Girl, arrives on February 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's 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 talk shows across the United States.

Girl has a triple power setting in New York, Washington and Los Angeles – 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 boyfriend. Throw in a philandering senator, whose pregnant girlfriend wants to upgrade from mistress to Mrs, and a beautiful young lawyer who went to Beverly Hills High with both of those girls and you've got a classic Collins novel.

Collins, 72, said Hollywood has changed considerably since she first started writing about it.

"When I wrote Hollywood Wives, the book that really put me out there, that was in the eighties 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 said, 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 said. "I think the whole industry 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 physical with a girl'."

However, she adds, when adult-appeal hits such as 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".

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 1990s. "I love writing screenplays."

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 LA and London-based company launched by former New Line execs Mark Ordesky (one of the producers of 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. (Reuters)


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