Celebrity Status is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to any actual events, persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental.
2018 Pearman Literary Publishing
Copyright © 2018 Angela Scavone
All rights reserved.
Cover Art and Design: © JM Walker - Just Write. Creations
May you always have great surprise twists and lots of flamingos!
There are many people that need to be acknowledged for this book!
First I would like to thank Deb, Jane, Colleen, Franca, Leah and Joanne for listening to me prattle on about the story line…constantly.
Shannyn for helping with the blurb, you are awesome!
Angela and Shannyn (again) for answering my hundreds of questions.
Thank you to the most amazing editing team: Erin, Sarah, Lana, Lynda and Brieanna. You guys are the greatest. Thank you for always being supportive and not bugging me too much on my grammar.
JM Walker my amazing cover artist, I cannot thank you enough for the absolutely perfect cover!
Last but certainly not least my family, thank you for allowing me to ignore all of you while I wrote. To my three fuzzy butts thank you for keeping my feet warm and allowing us to forgo a few (a lot) of walks.
I was always a good actress, but I was born to be a movie star. There was nothing else I ever wanted or dreamed. Since becoming famous, I made sure there was nothing, or nobody, that was going to take it away from me.
“Elizabeth, you’re off the marker. Reset! We need to shoot it again.” The director, Antonio Suarez, shouted from his perch behind one of the cameras. Hollywood is a cess pool of ego, deception and wise guys. Antonio was the very definition of ego and a complete asshole.
“Come on, Antonio,” I argued. “We’ve done sixty-three takes. It’s hot out, I’m tired and hungry. I think we got it already.”
“Reset!” Antonio repeated to the crew. “Elizabeth, please stop bitching. I get that you’re tired, and a princess, but the shot isn’t perfect. If you want to add another Oscar to your mantle, then let me do my job so you can get all of the accolades.” Antonio turned to a crew member to give directions.
This was not our first disagreement, or the first time he had called me a princess. I was no longer able to control my normally calm demeanor, especially since we were shooting a film in the blazing California sunshine that was supposed to be set in a cooler temperature of New York. It was extremely hot with all the extra clothing and my temper flared.
“I’m sorry, Antonio, I must have misheard you over the noise on the set. What did you just call me?”
Antonio turned his attention back to me and stared, I could see the wheels spinning behind his beady little black eyes trying to figure out what to say next. I stood a little taller than my five-foot-six frame allowed, my slender build giving the wrong impression of my true strength.
“I know you didn’t call me a princess for like the tenth time, because if memory serves me correctly, I warned you not to do that.” The tone of my voice turned dangerous. “Have I or have I not done every shot, every scene, and every damn take that you have asked me to do without issue?”
Antonio continued to stare. The cast and several members of the crew had stopped what they were doing and were poised watching.
“Are you going to make a thing out this?” he finally responded, dismissing my feelings completely.
“Antonio.” I tried to control my rising anger. “We have repeatedly shot this scene; the cast and crew are tired. It’s time for a break.” I ran my hand through my long, wavy brown hair, pushing the sweat out of my face.
“A better actress would stop her complaining and do the next damn take,” he shouted, anger clear in his voice.
I steeled him with a threatening glare. I was done with this director. He was nothing but a total jerk towards me and the crew and I’d had enough.
“Antonio, darling,” I began in a sweet voice, as if I was speaking to a child, “I have three Oscars, five Golden Globes, and numerous other awards, too many to mention. I made two movies last year that grossed over five hundred million dollars collectively.”
“What’s your point?” He sharply cut me off.
“My point is, dear director,” I condescended, “that perhaps it isn’t the lead actress on this film that is the issue.”
Antonio suddenly sat up straight in his chair. He must’ve understood the tone in which I said those words and the harsh reality behind them.
“Perhaps a new director might help get this movie completed,” I challenged.
“You wouldn’t dare,” he growled.
I smiled and walked off the set in the direction of my trailer. This director had pushed my buttons one too many times and I was going to use my influence in the industry to make him go away.
“Elizabeth, you can’t do this!” Antonio yelled as I rounded the corner to the back of the set where the trailers were parked.
“Watch me,” I muttered as I stepped through the door of my trailer and grabbed the phone.
The next morning, Hollywood, the Internet, and all the entertainment news wires were abuzz about the sudden departure of director Antonio Suarez from the set of the highly anticipated studio blockbuster he was filming.
The movie was put on hiatus while another director was found and brought up to speed, which meant an unscheduled break in my calendar.
“I’m thinking of going to Palm Springs for a few days while this blows over,” I announced while pouring iced tea into two glasses and handing one to Billy.
Billy was the typical handsome leading man—tall, dark brown hair, blue eyes, and an ego that was nauseating at times.
He was sitting at a round, glass kitchen table in front of floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked my backyard and a spectacular view of Los Angeles.
“Good idea,” he responded, taking a sip of his drink. “Go lie in the sun, take a swim, fuck your ugly boyfriend, and just relax.”
I smacked him across the back of the head.
“Don’t be a pig.” I sat across from him at the table.
Billy, or some called him William Stone, lived across the street from me atop the Hollywood Hills. He wasn't just a neighbor. He listened to my stories and kept my secrets. Despite the Oscar on his mantel and stacks of proposals from directors and writers looking for him to produce their projects, he was an all-around-nice guy—and eligible bachelor. Billy didn't spend many evenings sitting home alone.
He took a sip of his drink. “We have some business to discuss, though. This isn’t just a friendly visit.”
I peered at him over my glass. Knowing Billy, this request would be interesting.
Billy had come to Hollywood as a child actor and had been handed roles right from the start. Now pushing forty, he had many more awards. This gave him royalty status in Hollywood and he took full advantage of that.
“I want you to sign off on doing the movie I’m producing next. I need you to be the lead,” Billy said.
“What movie?” I asked, knowing full well which one he meant.
“The Las Vegas FBI script I gave you a month ago.”
“Did you have the script rewritten and my character changed?” I asked, matter-of-fact.
“No, I like the script the way it is, and seeing as I’m producing it, it will stay that way.”
“I told you I hate that character,” I reminded him. I couldn’t stand the character he wanted me to play. She was much bolder than any character I had played before and I wasn’t sure my fans would like something different from the good girl characters I usually played.
“Don’t care.” He took another drink, acting arrogant.
“Nice, thank you.” My sarcasm was intentional.
“Think of it as stretching your acting abilities. You can’t like every character you play. You need to expand your craft by playing characters you don’t like, which in turn, makes you an even better actress. Plus, I’m not asking.” Billy looked satisfied with himself.
I stared at him for a moment.
“Stare all you want, Elizabeth, you owe me for getting rid of that director yesterday, and as a thank you to me, you will do my movie.”
It was well known that Billy practically ran Hollywood—well, he and his friends.
“When does shooting start?” I conceded, knowing full well I wasn’t going to win this argument with him.
“That’s my girl. Next month on the fifth. I’ve already checked your schedule with your manager and we have moved things around for you so there are no conflicts.”
“Wow, that’s a little on the controlling side, don’t you think?”
Billy mockingly smiled at me as he took another sip from his glass.
“You only get away with that once,” I threatened. Nobody, even Billy Stone, controlled me.
“Aw, you know I love you.” Billy laid on the charm. “I want to work with you on this project. Plus, I figured you asked for a favor yesterday, with the director from hell, therefore, I thought you would want to help me with my movie.” He laced his fingers in mine. We were always innocently flirting with each other.
“Las Vegas for three months? Ugh.” Ugh was exactly how I felt. Las Vegas was hot, very hot, and there were so many tourists. It was too much, especially for that long.
“Come on, we’ll have fun. It gives me every day to convince you to get rid of that loser boyfriend of yours and hitch your wagon to mine.”
I laughed. “Cal, my ugly-loser boyfriend, as you call him, was voted one of People Magazine’s top fifty sexiest people this year. They, and his millions of adoring fans, tend to disagree with you.”
“Clearly the voters don’t know Cal, nor do they know that he is not good enough for you. That crap about you guys being Hollywood’s power couple is bullshit.” He shifted his gaze down to his glass and seemed to brood over the thought.
“Oh, stop being jealous, you know I love you back.” I flashed him a wicked grin.
Billy was about to say something when our shared publicist, Al, came bursting into the kitchen.
“What the hell did you two do?” Al bellowed as he entered the room.
“Whatever do you mean?” I quizzed innocently, fluttering my eyelashes at him.
“Do you have any idea how many calls I’ve been getting today wanting to know if you had Antonio fired?” Al was a stereotypical Hollywood suit. He was husky with almost no hair, a Rolex on one wrist, and a gold pinky ring on the opposite hand. He often was angry, and this day was no exception, but he held our secrets and was a trustworthy ally.
“What did you tell them?” Billy asked, his playful demeanor turning serious.
“I told them that there was no way my soft-spoken, good girl client would ever have a director fired.”
“Good. Make sure they continue to believe you.” Billy stood from the table and kissed me on the cheek. “Thanks for the drink, sweetie. I’ll send over the contract for the Vegas movie for you to sign.” Billy then left, leaving me with one pissed off publicist.
A new director was announced the following week and I was back on set. The studio wanted the film completed on time as the release date couldn’t be changed due to scheduling conflicts.
“Have you seen the headlines today?” my assistant, Mandy, asked as she came into my trailer. Her shoulder-length brown hair was pulled back into a bun and she was flushed from being in the heat. Mandy had been my assistant for many years, she too was a trustworthy ally.
“Not today,” I answered from the makeup chair while the talented artist made me beautiful for the next scenes.
“Antonio Suarez is all over the news saying that this film will never be finished and the studio should cut their losses,” Mandy informed the room.
“Really?” I grabbed my phone off the table and flicked through the headlines.
“Antonio Suarez is saying,” I began reading out loud, “That ‘My Kind of Love’, the anticipated blockbuster that he was fired from earlier this month, starring Elizabeth Stanfield, will never be completed. According to Antonio, Elizabeth Stanfield is a menace to work with. ‘She’s pushy, bossy, and an all-around pain in the ass to direct,’ he said from his Malibu home on Wednesday. ‘She doesn’t take direction from anyone and if she can’t get her way then she has people fired.’ Antonio went on to say that he wishes the new director all the luck in the world working with Elizabeth and trying to finish the movie with her as the lead. When we spoke to crew members on the ‘My Kind of Love’ set, they said that Elizabeth was nothing but nice, friendly, and followed everything the director said without argument.” I stopped reading.
“He’s an ass,” my makeup artist chimed in.
I laughed. She wasn’t wrong.
“Don’t let it bother you,” Mandy added, taking my phone and putting it in the bag where she held all my personal belongings while I was working.
“I won’t. He’s just pissed off, that’s all. Let him be. He was sucking the life out of this movie.”
I was then called to the set. As I was leaving my trailer, I ran right into Billy.
“Did you see it?” he asked, looking angrier than usual when talking about people who crossed us.
“I did. Don’t worry about it, he’s just spouting crap. He’s making himself look like an idiot.”
“He continues to say things like that and he’s going to be spouting blood,” Billy threatened.
“Gear down, big truck, it’s all good. I have to go to the set.” I began to walk away.
“See you tonight?” he asked.
“I can’t, Cal is back in town.” I gave him an excited smile. I hadn’t seen my boyfriend in weeks as he was on location, filming in San Francisco.
“Ah, the pretty boy actor has finally returned, has he?”
I made an excited squealing noise. I was elated to have Cal back in town. I blew Billy a kiss and ran off to the set.
“Oh Cal, it’s so big,” I exclaimed inside my bedroom. “It’s so beautiful too.”
“I know, it’s a platinum, diamond encrusted, limited edition Rolex. I saw it and I had to get it for you.”
I pulled the watch out of the box.
“I love it. Thank you so much.” I leaned across to his side of the bed and kissed him.
“No problem, babe. I wanted to get you something for not being here for the past few weeks.”
I slipped the oversized watch onto my slender wrist. “Well, I really love it.”
I went to kiss him again, but he pulled away and swung his legs over the edge of the bed to stand up.
“I’m hungry,” he declared. “Want to order some food?”
“Sure,” I absently answered as I lay back on the pillows.
Cal ran his fingers through his short blond locks and started to get dressed. I watched his tight, naked tush as he walked across my bedroom to where we had flung our clothes on the floor. He had broad shoulders, a strong chest, and smooth stomach. He swiftly pulled his jeans on and slipped his white t-shirt over his head.
“Come on, I’m starving,” he complained, sounding irritated I was not moving fast enough.
I stood up and put on a robe that was draped on the chair beside the bed. I walked over to where Cal was standing by the door and I kissed him.
“I’ve missed you so much,” I purred. “Did you miss me?”
“Of course. Let’s eat.”
We ordered Chinese food and ate at the backyard patio table overlooking the pool. The sun had dipped below the horizon and the backyard was lit only by the garden and pool lights.
“Babe, walk me to my car,” Cal said, getting up from the table as soon as he had finished eating.
“Where are you going?” I asked, still eating my meal.
“Home, babe. I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”
“You’re not staying?” I was surprised.
“No, I haven’t been home yet. I need to check on things.”
“Okay,” I pouted.
I solemnly walked with him to the front of the house to where his black BMW SUV was parked in the driveway.
“Wow, someone is having a party,” Cal commented about the blaring music coming from the street.
The front of my house was flanked by a high security fence and dense trees. This made it difficult for people to see onto my property but equally difficult for me to see the street. This was necessary since the paparazzi loved to hang out and hide around celebrities’ homes to get as many photos as they could.
“It might be Billy, it sounds like it may be coming from that way,” I commented. It usually was Billy having loud parties on our street.
“Ah yes, playboy Billy Stone. Wonder which model or actress will get lucky tonight?”
“Come on, he’s not that bad.”
“He’s definitely a player,” Cal declared. He then opened my robe and gazed at my exposed body. “But he doesn’t get this body. This one is mine.” He wrapped his arms around my waist, under the robe, drawing me, naked, against him. He deeply kissed me but then pulled away.
“Are you sure you can’t stay?” I whined. I really wished he wouldn’t leave.
He opened the car door as I closed and retied my robe.
“I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” he answered, ignoring my question.
I waited in the driveway until Cal pulled out of the gate. I could see for a moment, while the gate was closing, that it was Billy having a party. Every light was on at his house and there were a ton of people milling around in the front yard.
“Where is that loser boyfriend of yours?” Billy asked as he joined me in my kitchen the next morning.
“He went home last night.” I took a sip of my coffee while he poured himself a cup and sat across from me at the table. I was still sulking that Cal hadn’t stayed.
“Last night? Jackass hasn’t seen you in weeks and he couldn’t stay the night?”
“No, but you know Cal. He hadn’t been to his house yet and needed to go home.” Truth be told, I was hurt and upset he hadn’t stayed.
Billy stared at me with one eyebrow raised while he drank his coffee.
“So, we’re making excuses for him now?”
I gave him a dirty look in response.
“Don’t get mad at me for speaking the truth.” Billy never held back his true feelings about my relationship with Cal. Billy had hated Cal from the moment I began dating him two years prior.
“How was your party?” I changed the subject.
“Fantastic. Lots of alcohol and hot, easy women. Just how I like it.” He winked as he took a sip from his cup.
“Don’t be cranky. If loser boyfriend didn’t stay, why didn’t you come over to the party?”
“I wasn’t in a party mood, nor did I want to see you canoodling with some skank…or two.”
“You’re not jealous, are you?” He leaned forward over the table.
I followed suit and met him halfway. “I’m as jealous as you are of Cal.”
“Not possible,” he declared, leaning back into his chair. “I’m way more jealous. That guy is nowhere near good enough for you. There’s only one person that is.”
I laughed, knowing full well he meant himself.
“Yes, okay, but you need to stop being a man-whore before I would even consider it.”
“See, that’s why we aren’t together yet.” A devilish smile spread across his face. “Too many rules.”
Later that day, Billy and I had a scheduled meeting with the studio that was hopefully going to finalize the financing for our upcoming Las Vegas movie.
We walked into the large, airy conference room to find studio head, Frank Kovac, and all his lackeys, already seated at the black marble table. In front of each person there was a script and a business plan for the movie.
“Good afternoon, gentlemen.” Billy commanded the male-dominated room as we entered. He was the producer, he was in charge, and he made sure everyone knew it.
Frank sat at the head of the table looking unimpressed, not unusual for him, but he seemed even more intolerant.
“We are just waiting for my lawyer and the esteemed Robert Stevenson, who I have procured as director,” Billy continued.
Excited whispers spread around the room. I enjoyed watching Billy in these situations. He knew exactly how to work studio execs to get their attention. In the end, he would usually have them eating out of the palm of his hand, and if he didn’t, then he would use other methods. Either way, Billy always got what he wanted.
“Ah, here they are.” Billy jumped out of his seat and welcomed the two additional men to the meeting.
“Gentlemen,” he announced to the room. “My lady,” he directed towards me. “You have before you the script for a movie I would like completed. It’s about an FBI agent, played by none other than the incredible Academy Award winning actress, Elizabeth Stanfield.” He motioned my way, next to him. “She not only brings her second-to-none talent but her hordes of fans that never miss one of her films.”
“Billy, how much is this going to cost?” Frank asked impatiently. He was a stout man with a balding head of black hair. He had his back to the expansive windows that overlooked downtown Los Angeles, which made him look even smaller.
“Frank, it’s not going to cost as much as you think.” Billy beefed up his sales pitch voice. “As producer and leading actor, I will only take my actor’s fee and not the producer fee. Elizabeth will be paid her scale and the rest of the cast at their scale. We are filming in Las Vegas and will need minimum set time as we will be filming inside the hotels and casinos.”
“Give me a number, Billy.” Frank sounded agitated with the presentation.
“Two hundred and fifty million.”
“No,” Frank resolutely responded.
“Excuse me?” Billy asked. He wasn’t used to the word no.
“It’s too much. We will not finance that amount. Either cut some of the costs or we don’t have a deal.”
The lackeys around the table had been smiling and reacting accordingly to Billy’s sales pitch, but were now all staring confused at one another. Which made me think Frank was a lone wolf on this decision.
“How much are you willing to finance?” I asked, trying to diffuse the rising tension.
“We’re about one hundred million off,” Frank answered.
“Ouch,” I responded before I could stop myself.
“There’s no way I can cut that much off the budget,” Billy said calmly. I could see his neck muscles were clenched, which meant he was not happy.
“Well, here’s the deal, Billy.” Frank stood. “You either cut the budget down or we don’t back this movie and you can get one of your wise guys to finance it.”
I flinched at his response. That wasn’t going to go over well with Billy.
Billy stood in reaction. I knew I had to do something to diffuse the situation.
“Gentlemen, I’m sure there is a number we can all agree on.” I took control. “Both of you sit down and we can figure it out. I didn’t drive all the way down here for a thirty second meeting.”
Billy and Frank stared each other down, neither man wanting to sit before the other.
“Sit,” I demanded, losing my patience.
I flipped open the business plan as both men sat.
Two hours later, I had them down to about seventy-five million apart with an agreement for another meeting in a week to discuss.
“You need to keep your shit together when you hear the word no,” I scolded as Billy pulled his silver Aston Martin out of the studio parking lot.
“He’s such an asshole. I don’t know why I even bother to ask him for financing. There are plenty of other studios.”
“Yes, there are, but his studio is the biggest with the larger budgets.”
“Doesn’t help me any. He took seventy-five million away and still won’t agree to a deal. What the hell, by the way?” He turned on me. “Why did you agree to a sound stage in Vegas instead of using the actual hotel?”
“Because it would save us twenty-five million and it got him closer to signing the contract.”
I closed my eyes as Billy navigated the car into the Hollywood Hills neighborhood. Between narrow roads and cars parked on either side, it was a tricky drive at the best of times. Billy, however, liked to take these roads at breakneck speed.
“Yeah, but he still wants me to shave off at least seventy million. How the hell can I do that?” He stopped the car briefly to open the security gate to his property. I felt safe enough to open my eyes. He pulled into his driveway that ran straight up to his triple car garage and expertly parked the car on the side, away from the house, in the shade of the hedges that separated his house from the neighbor’s.
I climbed out of the car and gave a silent prayer for us arriving safely. As I looked heavenward, the sky was a glorious blue with the sun beating down, not a cloud in sight. It was one of those perfect California days.
Billy’s house was a single-story bungalow but huge. It was easily thousands of feet bigger than my house across the street and I had two floors. Windows flanked most outside walls of Billy’s bungalow, creating an incredibly bright space.
I followed him through the front doors into the grand foyer. There was a living room to the right, hallway of bedrooms and bathrooms to the left, and an enormous chef’s kitchen straight ahead. That didn’t include the theatre at the back of the house and a full wine cellar next to it. We went to the kitchen and Billy pulled a beer out of the fridge and offered me one.
“I don’t drink, remember?”
“Oh, right.” He shook his head. “I don’t understand that.”
I stood at the massive panel of windows that overlooked the backyard and the pristine pool. Billy sat, deflated, at the table.
“On top of all that, I have to go back to that jackass to finance two more movies I have on my production list.” He put his head down on the table top, looking defeated.
“It’ll all work out. Don’t worry.” I stood behind him and rubbed his back comfortingly.
He picked his head up and took a long swig of his beer as I moved around the table to sit across from him.
“You know,” he said thoughtfully. “It would work out better if we had a different studio head,” he mused, flashing me one of his devil smiles.
“Billy . . .”
“Beth, Jesus, answer your phone,” Cal complained while he nudged me awake.
“Hello?” I answered sleepily. The alarm clock registered five thirty in the morning.
“Where the hell were you last night around midnight?” my publicist, Al, desperately asked.
I took a second to shake off the sleep and clue into what he was asking.
“Elizabeth, I need an answer now,” he demanded. He sounded like he was wound tighter than usual.
“Holy jeez, Al, relax. It’s too early for you to start yelling at me.” Far too early.
“Elizabeth, I’m not joking, where were you?” He annunciated each word slowly.
“Cal and I were at a party at a club in West Hollywood, why?”
“How many people saw you? Was Billy with you?”
“Yes, tons of people saw us and Billy was with us. He and Cal almost got into a fight in the club and they took it outside.”
“What do you mean they almost got into a fight?”
“We got there around nine. Billy met Cal and me then the two of them started arguing, as they usually do. They continued to go back and forth until around twelve-thirty. Billy asked Cal to take it outside and Cal took him up on the offer. There were a ton of photographers out there. I’m sure there are a million pictures of them arguing outside the club. Again, I ask why?”
“Frank Kovac was killed in a car accident last night. His car was run off the road and went down a steep ravine in Sherman Oaks.”
“Oh, my God.” I sat bolt upright in bed.
“Make sure you and Billy stay away from the press today,” he ordered before hanging up.