I guess we'd be living in a boring, perfect world if
everybody wished everybody else well.
I've spent every one of my almost-fourteen years in Los Angeles–the world center of drama-rama. Words like chaos, disaster, and catastrophe get thrown around all the time here–even for little things like spilled coffee, freeway traffic, and two actresses wearing the same dress to the Golden Globes.
I don't throw those words around.
I earn them.
When I say chaos, I mean: a TV producer is screaming, and camera and lighting crews are fleeing my home.
When I say disaster, I mean: a set designer is in tears, and my sister's publicist is stunned silent.
When I say catastrophe, I mean: my sister is trying to jump out of her own skin.
Twenty minutes before Eva Ortiz–older sister, TV star, Young Latina of the Year–was supposed to go on the air for a live interview, she opened a mystery box.
Inside the box?
That's right: getting Punk'd is yesterday's celebrity nightmare; today's nightmare is getting skunk'd.
Picture it. A superhot, makeup-melting July afternoon. Max Winter, the crushworthy new MTV VJ, is here, reporting on location. He and the TRL crew descend on our Beverly Hills home. The crew is setting up in E's room. Max's segments are called "In the Bedroom," and usually have a chilling-in-your-crib-meets-flirting-with-cute-Max vibe.
Eva's bedroom is done in pink, black, and white. Whitest-white bedding on top of pink satin sheets, white-upholstered headboard and footboard. Round, pink shag carpet. Chrome-plated lamps. Black leather cubes that work as seats or tables.
Everything is designed to accent the framed black-and-white photographs on the walls. Two rows of prints, each of Eva in different scenes from her show, Two Sisters.
Eva is on the bed, reviewing interview questions with her publicist, Keiko, and our mom, and sneaking glances at Max. Max is medium height, dark-skinned, with long dreads, light brown eyes, and a killer grin. He is reviewing last-minute details with his producer and cameraman. And maybe sneaking glances back at E?
Then a box arrives–special delivery by courier. Stamped with an official Two Sisters label, with producer Roman Capo's name on it.
Yes, there are odd scraping sounds from the box.
Yes, those might be airholes punched in the side.
Yes, E is in pre-TV prep mode, and should be left alone.
Yes, skunk spray and screaming ensue.
And sadly, yes, we have a positive ID on the accomplice: almost- fourteen-year-old female, brown hair pulled into a ponytail, brown eyes, cute enough, not counting Papa Aldo's sticker-outer ears, and wearing a crazy-guilty expression.
There's pretty much only one thing that a loving sister can think at a time like this: I so wish I hadn't given her that box.
EXTERIOR SHOT: BEVERLY HILLS. SUMMER AFTERNOON, SUN HIGH AND WHITE HOT OVER RED-TILED ROOF OF A LARGE
SPANISH-STYLE HOME. CLOSE-UP ON: STRIPED LOUNGE CHAIRS BESIDE POOL. TWO FIGURES SIT ACROSS FROM EACH OTHER. THEY ARE SURROUNDED BY CAMERAMEN, MAKEUP ARTISTS, ETC. . . .
Max tries to save the shoot, suggesting a speedy relocation: "Maybe outside? Downwind?"
So after checking the wind direction–south, southwesterly–the lounge chairs are arranged, and the interview is set to begin.
Eva looks good. Huge brown eyes, wide-set and uptilting. Long brown hair with reddish highlights. Wide and bright smile. Petite, Pilates-perfect body. The costume supervisor for Two Sisters pulled together a poolside outfit from E's closet: a hipster-prep look with tailored shorts, a white blouse, and a long string of pearls. (The pearls were borrowed from E's agent, who had been twisting them in horror.)
Eva looks good, but she smells terrible. Everyone has a skunk remedy to suggest–a tomato juice bath, dunking her in dishwashing liquid, dowsing her in perfume. Mom is driving into town to get Skunk Off. But there isn't time to try any of the remedies. It's Total Request Live–not Total Request Tape-It-for-Later.
The makeup artist darts in to dab Eva with more powder; the sun is making her foundation run. Even for the few seconds she's near E, the stylist's nose is wrinkling, like it's trying to hide inside her face.
E is using every acting trick to appear calm–breathing from the diaphragm, relaxing facial muscles, visualizing a soothing space . . . but can she pull it off?
The director counts down to airtime: "Five, four, three, two . . ."
"Hello from Beverly Hills! Today, we're visiting with Eva Ortiz, sixteen-year-old breakout star of the ABC comedy hit Two Sisters. Hi, Eva!"
E and Max both have their nostrils pinched, so their voices sound a little high-pitched.
"Which video are you introducing today?" squeaks Max.
Eva tugs her ear nervously. She forces a smile. "The latest from Spilt Sugar. They're from my hometown, Anaheim, California, and they rock!" She sounds like a Wizard of Oz munchkin.
"Let's get to it!" Max was supposed to talk to E for another three minutes, but he throws the show back to the studio in New York. As soon as the director cues the cameras to stop filming, Max takes a big gulp of air. Then looks like he wishes he hadn't.
TRL had approached Two Sisters about featuring either Eva or her costar Lavender for the L.A. shoot. They went with Eva because she had more chemistry with Max. End result? An entirely new take on chemistry: they sound like they sucked down helium before going on the air.
As I watch Max wave goodbye to E (instead of the usual handshake or hug), I can read invisible words printed across his fast-retreating back: I should have chosen Lavender. You can count on her to smell like lavender.
I'm pretty sure I'm sporting some invisible words myself: I'm going to catch the person who skunk'd my sister, and he'd better be ready for TRL–Total Revenge Live.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpted from The Hollywood Sisters: On Location by Mary Wilcox. Copyright © 2007 by Mary Wilcox. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.