As a Nova Scotian I am witnessing a media frenzy over an local actress not seen since Ruby Keeler hit it big doing movie musicals in the 1930s. All the talk is about Ellen Page, star of the hit comedy Juno and recently announced as an Oscar nominee.
She even made it to the front page of our province's paper of record The Chronicle Herald, bumping the attack by 50 ft long mutant lobsters on Lunenburg to page three.
I'm glad for her success, and a wish her more of it, but, like I said in my Oscar preview I don't think she should win the Academy Award even if she deserves it.
I'm not wishing her ill, I'm actually wishing her well.
An Oscar is a double edged sword. Sure, the honour is nice and all, but it can also be a trap. Movie history is replete with actors and actresses who win an Oscar at a very young age, and then their entire career collapses.
A nomination is a good thing, but a win can kill a career. So I'm going to do something I haven't done since 2002 and offer advice to a celebrity.
Here's how the Oscar can destroy a career.
The most dangerous trap after winning an Oscar is to try to immediately win another one. This leads so many actors down the yellow brick road to ruin that I call Oscar Whoring.
I think you know what I mean. An actor wins an Oscar and their very next film is an overwrought melodrama where they emote their asses off while teaching hokey life lessons from the point of view of a terminally ill or mentally handicapped character, or starring in a film that makes a faux-courageous stance against people who won't actually do anything against them.
Another piece of advice I'd offer is to not play the Hollywood game.
Now I'm not talking about wearing dark glasses indoors and dressing badly for junket interviews and talk appearances. I'm talking about not getting all wrapped up in the whole 'fame game' that is currently killing Hollywood.
There's an old story that I think is applicable where the writer Harlan Ellison was talking to the late great writer Charles Beaumont and he considered quitting writing fiction and going full time into writing for TV and movies. Beaumont told him to keep with the fiction declaring something like: "If all you do is write for Hollywood they'll treat you like one of their whores. Keep writing books and short fiction and they'll treat you like prince from a far away land."
Basically Beaumont's advice says that a person who is successful in Hollywood shows a life that's not only outside of Hollywood, but independent of Hollywood they get a hell of a lot more respect than someone who spends their whole life in the cocoon of celebrity.
Now I'm sure she's flooded with advice from publicists who demand that she get 'out there' and get photographed by the ravenous hordes of paparazzi at all the best spots, surrounded by all the best people.
That too is a trap. Those who claim to be in the know say that exposure, and name recognition is key to success in Hollywood, but it's not actually like that.
You see, everyone knows who Paris Hilton is, but very few are actually willing to spend money and/or time to see them in a movie or TV show. This is especially true when the celebrity is over-exposed due to their antics and personal life.
My advice for Ms. Page is to only attract attention for her work. A certain amount of mystery is essential to create a real movie star, and people respect those who respect themselves enough to keep their private lives private.
So I guess I can boil down my advice to Ellen Page to these basic points:
1. Avoid winning the Oscar.
2. If Oscar is won avoid all roles that people offer that they claim will win another Oscar. Especially if the roles involve terminal disease or mental handicaps. Do the exact opposite of what they say.
3. Keep a life outside the spotlight, and keep all contact with Hollywood strictly business.
4. Avoid over-exposure. Easy as long the celebrity train-wreck parade keeps going to distract attention.
I think that just about covers it.