Spin is about a journalist who follows a celebrity into rehab to get the inside scoop. I'm often asked what inspired the book, whether it's based on my own experiences or on a real celebrity. The answer to the first question is: no. The answer to the second question is: kind of. And by that I mean that when I got the idea for Spin, it was a busy time on the celebrity rehab circuit. It seemed like celebrities were going in and out of rehab like they were on a circular conveyor belt. And the public's desire for every little detail was insatiable (if the amount of time that Entertainment Tonight etc. spent on the topic is a measure of anything). I remember being both fascinated and repelled by the whole thing. It seemed like some celebrities were playing the rehab card to get attention or get out of trouble when they'd attracted unwanted attention. Others were getting attention because they clearly so badly needed to be in rehab. And what was the public doing? Loving every minute of it. But what made us think that we have a right to know? It's one thing to look at photos of celebrities in their sweatpants shopping at Whole Foods. It's another to know what they're discussing during their most private moments. Rehab's supposed to be anonymous, right? That might be impossible for some celebrities, but they should be allowed as much privacy as possible, shouldn't they?
Well, not according to some, and so, as these ideas circled in my head and I watched - I admit I watched - a phalanx of paparazzi standing outside of yet another rehab facility waiting to take a shot of some young woman in trouble, I said to myself, sarcastically: why don't they just follow her in there? And then I said to myself: what a great idea for a book!
So, who were the celebrities that put this evil thought in my brain? Well ... in no particular order:
Okay, maybe there is some order. Lindsay started crossing the line from a girl who was clearly acting out for the camera (not wearing underwear etc.) to someone who clearly needed help (cue famous photo of her passed out in a hoodie). Sad to say, despite innumerable stints in various facilities she still at the top of the list of celebrities most likely to end up back in rehab. Let's hope she finds one that sticks.
After her marriage to Kevin Federline (or FedEx as he immediately became known) Britney seemed to fall apart before our eyes. She too went the attention getting route of not wearing underwear, but it wasn't until she shaved her head and started driving to gas stations in the middle of the night that - for me at least - her story went from comedy to tragedy. Britney seems to have pulled her life back together, which is great news for her, and especially, her children.
He made us laugh on Seinfeld and then made us cringe with a racist tirade during a "comedy" act. Although he never checked into rehab (as far as I and Wikipedia know, though he did go on a spiritual journey, apparently), he was one of the celebrities that everyone expected to go to rehab. Call it "pulling a Mel Gibson", i.e. do something inappropriate and cover it up/apologize by attending rehab. A "Get out of publicity trouble" card that's starting to wear thin, if you ask me.
His racist tirade to a police officer was blamed on a drinking relapse, which was soon followed by a stint in rehab. Though I'm sure he suffers from the disease, AA wasn't able to rehab his career. There are some sins the public won't forgive.
Recent examples of a newer phenomenon: get caught cheating on your wife and go to rehab for sex addiction. Tiger seemed to take it seriously, but he fell so far from his pristine perch that it's likely going to take a bunch of wins at Augusta to erase the asterisk from his bio. Jesse James... well... he's gone back to being Jesse James.
An obvious inclusion that didn't inspire my book (I'd already written it by then), but did confirm my conclusion that if a celebrity's struggle with their addiction is conducted in public, the public can't help watching (or following his tweets). Until he started that UStream thing. I tuned out about two minutes into that. What's he been up to recently?
He became a celebrity because he wrote a book about rehab. Oh, and that Oprah thing. Anyway, true or not, <em>A Million Little Pieces</em> is one of the more compelling books I've ever read, and gave the world an inside look into what celebrities (and everyone else) go through once they go inside the front gates of a rehabilitation facility. If you haven't read it, you should.
This memoirist is more famous for the tales of his crazy childhood, captured in <em>Running With Scissors,</em> but I personally found his memoir of his battle with alcoholism, <em>Dry</em>, a more measured, insightful read. I saved this one until after I'd written <em>Spin</em>, but it reassured me that I'd (hopefully) gotten some of the details right. <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Augusten_Burroughs_by_David_Shankbone.jpg" target="_hplink"><em>Photo by Wikimedia author David Shankbone</em></a>
I don't watch this show (I swear!) but I still read enough "celebrity" news (sigh) to know that being cast on a reality show because you're kind of a train wreck isn't likely to make you less of a train wreck. Which brings me back to my original question: why don't journalist just follow celebrities into rehab? Because they shouldn't.
As I write this, Heather Locklear has been admitted to a hospital after an apparent drug/alcohol overdose. The story is the most-read on people.com (yeah, okay, I look at it sometimes). If the past is prologue, she'll be on her way to a rehab facility in the near future. And paparazzi will fan out searching for that perfect-this-is-how-she-looked-when-she-entered-rehab shot. The more things change...
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