INT. NIKKI’S HOUSE. DAY.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Nikki sighed in annoyance. She really didn’t want to get up. She muted the TV and stood, making her way from the living room to the hall and opened the door.
“Oh. It’s you,” she said, crossing her arms.
Clint pulled off his sunglasses and tucked them into his pocket. “Well aren’t you a bright little ray of sunshine this morning,” he grinned.
“I rather thought I’d never see you again.”
“Are you still going to pay me a thousand a week?”
Nikki shrugged, but pride prevented her from being the one to back out so she muttered, “I guess.”
“Then you’re going to see me again.”
Seeing no way out of it, at least not one she was willing to take, Nikki stepped aside. Clint entered and waited till she’d shut the door before gesturing towards the living room. “Shall we?”
“I guess,” Nikki said again, a little grumpily. Clint hid a smile and followed her into the other room.
“What are you watching?” Clint asked, catching sight of the television.
“Reality show…the producers sent over the tapes. There’s an offer on the table for me to do one.”
Clint turned to her in alarm. “To which of course you’re going to say no.”
Nikki blinked in surprise for a couple of seconds and then crossed her arms angrily. “I think I can make my own decisions.”
“And I think I was just hired as your manager to help you rework your image. And I’m saying it’s a terrible idea.”
“Oh come on. We both know you being my manager is a joke!” Nikki snapped.
Clint took a deep breath and tried to approach the issue from a different direction. “Alright, you may have a point. I’m new and I need to prove to you that you can trust me. So hear me out on this. Reality TV does have a stigma to it. Jersey Shore, Kardashians, Paris Hilton, I could name more, they’ve all done it and a lot people don’t respect them for it. What you need at this point in your career is respect. Let’s be honest, your songs now aren’t any worse than they were eight years ago but each CD for the past couple years has been selling worse than the last. Why is that?”
“They’re still selling,” argued Nikki defensively.
“Yes they’re still selling, but you can’t keep losing sales between each CD or eventually no one will be buying them. Look, the whole world of pop stars and singers, is built on perception and image. You don’t even have to sing that well anymore what with auto tune and lip syncing. I’m not saying you can’t sing,” he added hastily as Nikki opened her mouth to protest, “I’m just illustrating to you the importance of image. And your image has been seriously compromised. I was doing some research last night. I went online and read a lot of people’s opinions of you. They see you as troubled and unreliable. Six months ago you cancelled a concert an hour before it was supposed to start.”
“The marketing and promotion for that concert had been butchered. They only ended up selling half the seats.”
“Then you sing to the seats that are full. You don’t cancel an hour before show time unless you’ve broken something other than your pride,” said Clint. “With one cancellation you alienate everyone that has a ticket and make them far less likely to buy one again. Look,” he sat down on the couch and pulled her down next to him, turning towards her seriously. “You keep getting your picture taken while drunk, you crash cars, have DUIs, cause scenes. You were a teenage star which means people are even more hyper sensitive to any indiscretions, since there’s a history of child stars falling off the deep end and the public loves it.”
“They love it?”
“Of course. The movies, songs and television, aren’t the only entertainment people get out of Hollywood. They love the drama of the stars’ lives. And they especially love the drama of a falling star. They express shock, always blame the media, but at the end of the day they eat it up.”
Nikki frowned. “So how do you stop it?”
“It’s not easy, but it’s doable. First off you have to stop clubbing and coming home drunk. You need out of tabloids for a while. Now unless you are a legitimate alcoholic-”
“I am not an alcoholic,” Nikki snapped.
“Then we shouldn’t have a problem. You stay in. If you have to go out visit the book store. Buy…I don’t know War and Peace or something and try and get the paparazzi to snap that…in fact…I could probably help you there.”
“War and Peace? Really?” asked Nikki skeptically.
“You don’t actually have to read it. And I know it’s a bit heavy-handed, but why not? The tabloids have been using you; it’s time you used them. You’re perceived as the dumb blonde valley girl who’s cracking under pressure. We need an alternative image to reach the public. And it’s all up to you. Can you do it?”
As Clint had talked Nikki had shifted uncomfortably. He was saying a lot of things no one had ever said to her before but it making a certain kind of sense. Part of her was taking a deep dislike to him; another part, a small part that hadn’t spoken to her in a while, was telling her to shut up and listen.
“Alright,” she conceded at last. “We’ll try it your way.”
Clint beamed at her and nodded energetically. “Good…err,” he cleared his throat nervously, “There’s also the matter of your…wardrobe.”
“You really need a new one.”
Nikki’s jaw dropped open in disbelief and then she surged to her feet. “I can’t believe you have the audacity to come in here and start nitpicking at my clothes!”
“You look like a-…” Clint cleared his throat again and restarted, “Your clothes are currently promoting the image of the former teen pop star that doesn’t do anything but drink and drugs.”
“I do not take drugs!”
“If we want to promote a classier image you have to dress classier. Hey, it means shopping, don’t girls love that?”
“And now you’re stereotyping me, thanks.”
Clint laughed. “Fair point. But that’s what the public does. They put all celebrities into categories. Heart throbs, serious actors, indie stars, sex symbols, comedians, cute, troubled, the list goes on. You need to break out and show them something new.”
As he continued to talk, Nikki slowly returned to her seat on the couch.
“And,” Clint went on, “I know there is something else in you. I know you can do this. But that something new is not Reality TV,” he added, gesturing towards the television screen.
“Well,” admitted Nikki with a smile. “I wasn’t seriously considering that anyways.”