Question Celebrity

By With Hank Stuever
Sunday, July 3, 2005

Finally we're enjoying a golden era of Hollywood women speaking truth to power: Brooke Shields talking back to Tom Cruise (who'd dissed her for taking antidepressants, which he, as a Hubbard-fearin' Scientologist, opposes. She asked why she should listen to someone who cavorts with aliens). Gigi Levangie Grazer (wife of producer Brian) throwing exceedingly observant details (all men in the industry shave their privates?) into her Hollywood novel, The Starter Wife. Lisa Kudrow so brilliantly skewering the sausage factory that is the network sitcom on "The Comeback," her mockudrama on HBO.

It's that same ribald honesty that draws me to worship comedian Kathy Griffin, who champions the state of D-listness as a perfect Hollywood existence. Los Angeles magazine recently named her one of the city's 25 funniest people (No. 6). "A lot of celebrities love it when I trash other celebrities," Griffin told the magazine. "They'll even say to me, 'You have to rip into so-and-so.' " But not all celebrities appreciate that approach. She said she's no longer welcome to appear on Conan O'Brien's show, or David Letterman's or Ellen DeGeneres's. "I'm not worrying about it," said Griffin. "I'm sure that I have gotten some jobs because of [being a bigmouth], but I would never get invited to the Vanity Fair [Oscar] party anyway."

Speaking of truth-tellin' women, one of my fave examples surfaced in February, when Carrie Fisher woke up in her bedroom next to a dead man -- a globetrotting Republican operative and drug addict, a dear friend who, according to a recent New York Times article, had a habit of popping up to beg Oscar tickets from Fisher and stick around for one of those gay-guy/gal-pal sleepovers. The coroner came and got the body, and people took the actress-writer at her word, because why would Princess Leia make up such a thing?

It's easy to believe Fisher because she's been so frank about all that showbiz life has dealt her, from her own drug problems to her devastating bipolar breakdowns. I can think of very few people as famous as she is who could wake up in the morning next to a corpse, still make any afternoon appointments, and be able to talk to reporters about it a couple of months later in a touching, isn't-life-odd way. Honesty is her best asset, and probably a big reason that she was such a miserable failure as an A-list celebrity.

E-mail: celebrity@washpost.com.


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