The Great Personal Business Trade

BY t. tara turk

from Hulbert Waldroup's "Old Hollywood" collection

As an amateur old Hollywood (that means the biz and not the city) historian, I can tell you that a bunch of things have changed since the old days of conveyor belt starlets, one studio contracts and publicity stunts. Things have reversed themselves. Back then, actors were signed to one studio, loaned out, fined if they didn't show up, forced to train, set up with other actors they may or may not have liked and kept their private lives as private as possible. Drama was on the screen (or the stage if you were lucky enough to be on Broadway - back then, the stage was a viable competitor for the movies believe it or not). And the work, for the most part, was worth it.

I'm not old enough to be one of those "back in my day everything was better" types but I can tell you that that movies and theater back then were made with such purpose and care (unless it was blatantly supposed to be a folly of sorts). As I read Vanity Fair's recent Marilyn Monroe archives, I was struck by how much we thought we knew but didn't. And then I was struck by how much I know of "famous" people know and don't want to know.

The breakups recent Courtney/David, Christina/Jordan, Kim/Reggie (why are we talking about her again?), Melissa Etheridge/Tammy Lynn, Laura/Ben and Tiki/Ginny along with the rehabbing of Lilo (though Michael K's Dlisted makes Lindsay's Mom, "White Oprah," way more interesting), Dwayne Wade and Gabby Union's union is all just a bit too much to take in for reality's sake. Since when did private lives take over the entertainment industry? You're going to say Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, I know but at least they channeled their passion into some pretty damn good films.

Maybe the larger question is, with all this juicy material, why are we not using it for what it should be used for? While I'm on the fence about the  Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats union (though it really isn't any of my business but since it's out there, I just formed an opinion since I can) at least she made a song "Unthinkable" about it that I actually happen to adore.

Without personal business we wouldn't be human but artists are supposed to use their personal business to do something larger than for themselves. Take it out of the tabloid sheets and put it on stage or screen for crying out loud. I bet a movie about the Kanye/Taylor Swift rift would blow out a movie about two single idiots forced to raise a kid together...Hmmm....

T. Tara Turk's fiction has appeared in African Voices, Exit the Apple and the international anthology X24. Her plays have appeared at New Federal Theater, Ensemble Studio Theater and the Actor’s Studio.  Her screenplays have been featured in such festivals as Reel Sisters, BHERC and on BETJ. Contact her at scruffdiva[at]