Authors: Clare Naylor,Mimi Hare
Tags: #Fiction, #Humorous, #Romance, #General
One step u p from
The Second Assistant,
and one step closer to the red carpet
THE FIRST ASSISTANT
clare naylor is the author of five previous novels, including
The Goddess Rules.
mimi hare was the director of development for a Hollywood production company where she worked on feature films such as
As Good As It Gets
The Second Assistant
“Your perfect spring fling . . . more fun than stargazing at Spago.”
“Make sure it is at the very top of your beach bag.”
“This story of a power agent’s lowly second assistant has a lot of heart to go along with its smarts.”
“[A] wicked romp.”
“A high-spirited sprint.”
The New York Times Book Review
The Second Assistant
A PLUME BOOK
Published by Penguin Group
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Published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Previously published in a Viking edition. Copyright © Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare, 2006
All rights reserved
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Original hardcover design by Spring Hoteling
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The First Assistant
I have just stepped out of the limo to my boyfriend’s movie premiere and I’m the happiest girl in Los Angeles. I am an impeccable fifteen minutes late and have arranged to meet him inside the theater. He has been on location in Prague. We haven’t seen each other for a month. I am wearing a black Azzaro cocktail dress. It’s the first time in my life I know what it means to feel like a million dollars. I manage my vehicular exit without a face-plant and when the driver closes the door behind me I see only the dazzling flashbulbs of the paparazzi ahead.
“Hey, Lizzie, over here!” I hear someone cry out. It doesn’t sound like Luke. I look around and within seconds the call has escalated to a chorus of “Lizzie” ’s. It is the first time that the paparazzi, who always huddle by the door on these occasions, have known who I am. I wonder
they know who I am, too. Strangely it never crosses my mind to ask myself that one truly critical question, “Who am I, anyway?” If I had I would have remembered that I am Lizzie Miller, efficient, but not to the point of fame, first assistant to the head of a Hollywood agency. I have never won a talent show on national television. I am not famed for my inimitable way with Balenciaga and I was never the fiancée of Jude Law. There is no other con-ceivable reason why anyone would want to gaze at me in
as they wait for a fat transfer injection in their dermatologist’s office.
Unfortunately when fame beckons my ego picks up the hem of its evening dress and runs headlong to meet it like a long-lost lover way before my brain can pitch in and warn me what a hiding to nothing even minor, piffling celebrity is.
“Give us a smile, Lizzie!” they call out again. So I take a deep breath and saunter up to the sidewalk in front of the metal railings that they use to separate the hunters from their prey. Now let me tell you something, if you’ve never seen an actress stand on the carpet and pose for the paparazzi you haven’t lived. The whole thing is hysterical. The glossy photos we get to see are no happy accident. They are the result of a ludicrous and humiliating process that no sane person would be party to. The first time I ever saw an actress posing for the cameras at a premiere I was morbidly horrified. She was a beautiful, English rose of a starlet one minute and the next she looked as if she’d caught sight of Medusa and been turned to stone. Either that or her Botox had just kicked in. She was petrified into such a ridiculous pout for such an ap-pallingly long time that it looked as if she might not blink again before the movie, or perhaps the millennium, was over. It was the first time in my life that I was glad I didn’t have skin the color of morning milk and a twelve-million-dollar paycheck.
Only now, for the first time ever, it’s my turn. I resolve to just give a couple of discreet smiles, possibly verging on the coquettish if I can bring myself to abandon my inhibitions to such a degree, then be on my way. I pull my dress out of my undies where it has lodged on the car ride and launch myself toward the waiting photographers.
“Come on, baby, give us a smile!” they call out. So I do. I stand on the sidewalk in front of them and begin to pose. And actually I might even trade places with the morning-milk skin chick after all because it is all terribly easy. I just pretend that I’m home in front of the mirror and replicate some
favorite poses: the Happy Hostess on Prozac look; the Bored Ingénue after a big night; the Nymph in Raptures. I am actually quite enjoying myself until I am roused from the haze of my narcissism by one of the photographers yelling, “Hey you!” I open my eyes and see, not a hoard of adoring males, but a pack of irritated wolves who’ve just had their supper snatched away.
“Yes, you! Move out of the way!” I am confused for a fraction of a sec-ond until I hear a woman’s voice behind me.
The First Assistant
“How do you want me, boys?” she coos. I turn around and am confronted by the laudable cleavage of Lindsay Lohan.
“Lindsay, you’re a doll!” yells the same photographer who’d just told me to stop ruining his picture. They hadn’t been calling for Lizzie. They’d been calling for Lindsay.
I quickly scuttle inside the entrance to the theater and out of the way of a pro in action. The flashbulbs explode and Lindsay (who, along with everyone else, is wearing jeans and flip-flops; I appear to be the only person in a crystal-encrusted, floor-length evening gown) does her thing while I skulk in the doorway and contemplate my humiliation. I pause as my blush subsides and reassure myself that the foyer looks blessedly empty so at least the other two thousand people who’ve been invited to the premiere haven’t witnessed my crazed ego getting the better of me.
Or so I delude myself until I walk into the buzzing theater in search of my seat and boyfriend. As I step through the double doors the whole place goes quiet. Heads turn in my direction and, thinking myself sensible in the extreme, I obligingly step out of the way, sure in the knowledge that Ms. Lohan can only be a few paces behind me again and everyone wants to check her out. But this time there’s no Lindsay be-hind me. Then I understand why—on the giant screen ahead, magnified to Olympian proportions, is Lindsay Lohan, still pouting and giggling for the photographers outside. As is traditional at premieres, they film the arrivals on the red carpet and show them on-screen to the waiting audience. It takes me approximately four seconds to understand that every last person in this theater has just witnessed my big “moment” on the red carpet.