INT. NIKKI’S HOUSE. (CONT’D).
“Thank you for your business and gracious hospitality,” Clint said, smiling at her affably as he rose to his feet.
Nikki rolled her eyes. “You expect hospitality after breaking in my house and extorting me for two hundred dollars.”
“I didn’t break in anywhere. I used the key in your purse to get you home. Now I could have made you stay the night at my apartment but I thought that might upset you a bit when you woke up the next day. And it wasn’t extortion.”
“Sure, whatever. Can you just go now?”
Clint sat back down, causing Nikki to groan inwardly. “Do you know what your problem is?” he asked.
“Yes. I have a splitting hangover.”
“No that just another symptom of your problem. Your problem is that no one every taught you how to grow up.”
Nikki buried her forehead in her hands. “I can’t believe I’m getting a lecture from a paparazzi about my problems.”
“Since the moment you released that first single ‘What Daddy Doesn’t Know’ at fourteen, you haven’t been told no once.”
Nikki looked up and glared. “I was fifteen and you know nothing about my life.”
“Sure I do. You’ve lived it in front all of Hollywood and America. I took pictures at your first Grammy Awards and was there last year at the Blue Bird Club when you threw the glass at the performer…wow, throwing things really is a theme for you isn’t it?”
“I had a little too much to drink and that stand up was making some very rude jokes about me.”
“And you sure showed him didn’t you?” Clint commented dryly. “See that’s my point. When a kid gets made fun of what does he do? Run away, cry, yell, throw a tantrum? An adult knows you can’t deal with it in those ways. You’re what? Twenty-three? Twenty-four? You should be past the tantrum stage by now.”
“Right, well next time you’ve got a stand-up comedian making fun of your life in front of an entire club, let me know how well you handle it.”
Clint laughed. “I don’t need to be made fun off. My entire profession is loathed by just about everyone. The stars hate us. The public that devour the tabloids do so as they talk about how we should leave you all alone and your private life is private. And besides you are the one that’s made yourself a running gag. DUI’s, drunken partying, cancelled concerts and one page grabbing relationship after another that invariably implodes into a giant media mess that always leaves you looking worse then you did before.”
“None of that is my fault!” snapped Nikki.
Clint looked at her disbelievingly and responded matter-of-factly, “Sure it is.”
“Alright,” she conceded, “Maybe the DUI’s, but the LAPD love to catch the famous people. They target us. And I can’t help what the media says about me.”
“Sure you can. I’ve been around this town over ten years now. I’ve seen super stars, one hit wonders, attention seekers, indie artists, rebounds, comebacks, scandals and career killers. I’ve seen it all. At the end of the day it all comes down to publicity and what kind of image you put out there. Your transition from teen star to adult singer hasn’t suffered because people aren’t ready for you to grow up as ‘an artist’,” he said the last a little mockingly. “It’s because the image you’re putting out there is all wrong.”
“Oh really? You know I have an entire studio, publicist and manager working on this, and yet somehow you have all the answers?” Nikki asked sarcastically.
“Your manager quit didn’t he?”
“For personal, unrelated reasons,” Nikki said firmly.
“Well that studio and publicist you have? They’re all busy telling you you’re their wonderful star because while you’re career is floundering and your image is very quickly deteriorating you’re still making them money. People don’t like to tell their cash cow that they’re wrong. That’s why no one’s told you you’re wrong since you were fifteen and that’s why you don’t have the first clue about how to act like an adult.”
Clint stopped, leaned back on the couch and crossed his arms. Nikki stared at him. The audacity of this man was absurd. Coming into her home, demanding money and then sitting there calmly and saying-
“I suppose you could do better?” she snapped.
He shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Oh only maybe? For someone with all the answers I’m surprised you don’t have more confidence.”
“Well I could do my part; I’m just not sure you could do yours.”
“I’ve been in the public eye for years now. Believe me I can do my part.”
“Really? You’d be able to stop acting like a college kid at a frat house every other night?”
“I do not act-”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Oh sure, it’d be my fault if things went south. But as long as I did whatever you said you could just turn my career right around could you?” she asked mockingly.
“I think so.”
“I’d like to see you try.”
“Wait, what?” Clint blinked.
Nikki tossed her head. “You think you could be my manager? Go ahead and try. You’re hired.”
“As much as I’d love to put your crumbling career back together, I happen to have a job.”
“I thought as much, coming up with an excuse and trying to back track.”
“No, I just like to do a little something called eating. I realize someone who weighs ninety pounds probably hasn’t heard of it, but us common folk…”
“I do not weigh ninety pounds. And if eating is the issue…how about $1000 a week?”
Clint’s eyebrows rose. “You’re serious?”
“You seem to think you know absolutely everything about Hollywood. Prove it.”
A minute passed and then Clint shrugged. “I’ll do anything for money. $1000 a week? Sure.”
They stared at each other for a moment.
“I’m going to regret this when my head stops throbbing aren’t I?” Nikki asked, before standing up and heading off for the kitchen.