Friday, August 31, 2007

Don't Forget Lana

This is an unfinished draft entry.
It will be completed over the next several days.

It was a Court TV poster LegalViewer, who said in an email to me, something that brought me back to one of the reasons that I dedicated four months of my life to this trial.

Remember, you, Dini and the others are their "community support." Keep up your support for the Clarkson's.

As much as I'm enjoying all the participation by the Court TV members in the caption contest, (the entries I've received so far will be posted soon for everyone to enjoy) I myself needed to be brought back to why we are here in the first place. Lana.

On that note, I thought I would remind everyone who Lana was, through the words of her friend that she had for over 20 years, Nili Hudson, and her print ad agent, Nick Terzian. This is not a verbatim, exact transcript of highlights of their testimony, but it's very close.

Nili's friendship with Lana began when they were both in their late teens, and continued until Lana's death.

Nili Hudson
During the summer of 1981, Lana and her friend Gwendolyn, were young beautiful aspiring actresses, who moved in, I believe at the house next door. And then, immediately Lana and I connected, and that's when our friendship began.

(We were) As close and as intimate and as best of friends as anybody could imagine being. Over twenty-one years we traveled, we lived together as roommates, on three or four occasions in different homes. We celebrated each others birthdays. I used to spend Christmas with her family because I'm Jewish. So, I didn't have much to do on Christmas Day, or we'd go to the movies. And, so through the 20 some odd years that we were friends we spent a significant amount of our time together.

The parallels between our businesses (Nili has been in real estate since she was 21), were far more than anyone would imagine. We had to get out there every day and pound the pavement. I was selling myself as a realtor, and selling homes; she was selling herself as an actress and a performer. And, we both got rejection, and we both lived check to check. And, neither of us got a salary in between those checks. When we hit it big, it was big. We would be each other's cheering section. She's just call and say, "I booked a commercial," and I'd sold a house and we'd scream on the phone. It was just, the parallels were quite remarkable. It was remarkable how similar our lives, as a result of being in those careers were.

She would book something, and I'd be one of the first people she would call. "I got it! I got the commercial!" And I'd be screaming for her, "YEAH!" And I'd call her and say, "I got a great client! We sold a house today, three million dollars," and she would scream for me. Same thing. We'd meet a great guy, we'd call each other and say, "I met the most wonderful guy." I mean, that's what we did. We were each others cheering section. We had this mutual admiration society. For twenty years it was like that. It never really changed.

Was Lana close with my mother? Absolutely. She even lived with my mother, when I no longer lived in the house. She was my family, and I believe I was a part of her family.

In the more recent years, prior to Lana passing away, she started booking some remarkable national commercials. K-Mart. She became the spokesperson for Route 66 jeans. I would guess in '97, '98 (she got that campaign). It was phenomenal. It launched a new era for her. (An image is put up on the Elmo.) That's Lana any myself with Paul Newman at Ontario Raceway, Speedway (for a K-Mart campaign).

Lana landed some other national commercials for Budwiser, Playtex and Mercedes. There was an enormous shift in her career around '97-'98. I watched and experienced this shift with her. Lana understood that what was making her successful in her earlier years, was her beauty....coupled with her talent. She was, an ingenue. She was, the gorgeous arm candy. Those were the kind of roles she was getting. She acknowledged that at some point in her mid thirties, that she wasn't booking as many as those types of parts. She started exploring, and discovered she had a talent for comedy. She started pursuing this, comedic avenue. And this is where the shift came. And it was, brilliant, what she started doing. What I observed, was this remarkable, shift from, "Okay, I'm not going to be the cute, gorgeous blond ingenue, ~in terms of my career and not getting those roles~ where can I take, what level can I take my career now to?" She started exploring comedy, and she started performing at the comedy store.

I saw her perform at The Comedy Store. I was astounded, that she had do this. It takes years to build up that kind of repertoire. She did it day one. She just said, "I'm going to do it." She got on stage, and started performing comedy, and that's when she started booking comedic roles. This K-Mart commercial was a comedic role. The Budwiser commercial was a comedic role. And it was just this unbelievable new avenue for her. The Budwiser commercial was the one where they meet another couple... and there was some animal that talked.

Was she driven with respect to her career? Did she care about it deeply? Remarkably. Astoundingly. (As Nili was with her real estate career.) And we shared that and talked about that. About the same time, there was a big shift in her personal life. Lana was, from the day she came to Los Angeles, a part of this community. She was in love with the idea of, doing what she did, and being a part of the community, and networking, and socializing.....and for many, many years, this is what she did. She was a member of the Hollywood community in that sense. The lifestyle she had, in addition to pursuing her career, was, a social lifestyle. At some point, around this same time, she decided that she really wanted to...take it down a notch. And she kind of wanted to go inward a little bit, and, slow down. She pursued.....she became more spiritual. She started going to church. She was going to Self Realization Center every Sunday. She had decided to just sort of, um, kind of refresh, and regroup. And that's where this shift happened and she stopped drinking for a while. She stopped eating meat. She was just getting super healthy.

During the period of time that you knew Lana, was networking for want of a better term in the Hollywood community important to her? Overwhelmingly. And prior to this shift, that networking included going to parties. Her change in focus and how she networked happened around '97, '98. She wasn't doing the evening, party scene the way she used to. It doesn't mean she never did. She would dip her toes in the water from time to time, but it wasn't something she was doing on a regular basis. And these were things that we talked about all the time.

A photo is put up on the Elmo of Lana and Nili, and Lana is still in those "halos" from breaking her wrists. Nili explains the photo. That's Lana and myself. It's on the canals, the Venice canals, out in front of her house. It would be....I know the halos are still on, so I would say it was in, uh, 2002, the spring of 2002, early 2002. When Nili heard about Lana's accident. I was skiing. I was away on vacation, so I don't know if I heard about it the next day, or a day later. Or if I heard about it shortly there after, and then returned home of course. But I was out of town when it happened.

I heard that she was at a Christmas party, celebrating, and that she was dancing with some kids. A carpet went out from under her, and she fell back. And when she went to support herself, she crushed her wrists. This totally affected her career. For six months, she had a day nurse, and she was relegated to her house. She couldn't drive. It did have a significant affect on her ability to function as a human being, in addition to working. (Nili visited her often.) About the same time, right before this time, Lana worked on a video.