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Hollywood’s errand runners

Terri Schlichenmeyer

So you say you have a bad job. The hours are awful, the tasks are boring, the boss is an idiot, customers have no clue, and the pay is low.Could be worse. You could have a spoiled Hollywood star as an employer.Don’t believe me? Read the new novel “Chore Whore: Adventures of a Celebrity Assistant” by Heather H. Howard (c.2005, HarperCollins), and you’ll never complain about your boss again.It’s Christmastime, and Cornelia “Corki” Brown is trying to find a few perfect gifts for Steven Spielberg’s birthday. While nothing has to be expensive, gifts to Steven usually are. More importantly, they need to be memorable presents. Corki’s clients, some of the richest and most famous in Hollywood, want her to really surprise Spielberg on their behalf, so they send her shopping to some of Los Angeles’ most exclusive stores. Such is the life of a chore whore.Years ago, Corki tried to get a “real” job in L.A., but nothing paid as well as catering to the whims of stars. Doing things for celebrities that they’re too spoiled to do for themselves is just another way to make a living.Jock Straupman is one of Corki’s clients. Jock is a major motion picture star, and quite the ladies’ man. Women come and go through Jock’s house almost weekly, and Jock pays Corki to break up with most of those women for him. He also pays her to arrange his mail pick-up, clean his guns, and buy his food, his clothes, and presents for his girlfriends.Lucy Bennett, two-time Academy Award-winning actress, thinks of Corki as “family.” Family who cooks for Lucy’s dinner parties and schedules vehicle maintenance for her, that is, but Corki doesn’t mind. Lucy pays her well to do these things, and with Lucy around, it’s easy to get a table in some of the better restaurants.Film producer Liam Schwartz and his wife, Esther, are also Corki’s clients. So is Veronique, a sex-symbol from the ’90s, and perhaps the only client Corki considers a real friend. By working nearly around the clock for her clients, Corki makes just enough money to pay the mortgage and raise her son.Then the New Year arrives, and with it, a wedding, a scandal, a blackmail scheme, and one celebrity assistant who’s plain tired of it all.True story or just a novel? Author Heather H. Howard was a real-life celebrity assistant for many years, which made me wonder how much of Corki’s tale really happened and how much was made-up. This book is filled with juicy, gossipy insider-type stories that seemed rather thinly-disguised, and more fact than fiction. I’m sure that most of Hollywood is busy trying to figure out who’s who right about now. I’d kind of love to know, myself.If you’ve ever been tempted to browse through a tabloid magazine in the check-out line at the grocery store, you must read this book. “Chore Whore” is scandalous, fun, and definitely not a chore to read. VT


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