Jackie Collins has been accused of indiscretion in fictionalizing real-life Hollywood players in her tell-all novels, but according to the British-born writer, it’s the Tinseltown crowd who should learn some manners. Take Madonna, please: ”I read where she said I was her favorite author. So I sent her a special copy of Rock Star with a nice note. And she never responded! Can you believe that?” And of that ungracious Grant Show of Melrose Place, who appeared in the 1990 miniseries of Lucky/Chances, she says: ”I read one thing in which he trashed Lucky/Chances. I wanted to write him — ‘Grant, it’s not very smart to trash people who can hire you later! You would have been terrific for (the movie of) my book American Star, but Grant, if you’re listening, forget it!”’
Grant, if you’re reading, know that Collins laughs as she says this — American Star could still be yours. Just remember: Collins is the one to make nice with. As the networks continue to snap up her blockbuster novels — the four-hour miniseries of Jackie Collins’ Lady Boss airs Oct. 11 and 12 on NBC — Collins, 51, has insisted on more control. She was made an executive producer of Lady Boss, helping to oversee casting, locations, music, wardrobe — everything but making coffee, a skill she lacks. ”At home, I only have instant. I have this fabulous house (in Beverly Hills), right? And no coffee maker. It’s embarrassing.”
As both writer and exec producer on Lady Boss, starring Kim Delaney (in the role Nicollette Sheridan originated in Lucky/Chances), Jack Scalia, Vanity, and Phil Morris, she sometimes had to battle herself. Writer Collins wanted a scene shot in Mexico; producer Collins saw the budget and said, ”Luckily, Oxnard (Calif.) looks a little like Mexico.”
Collins herself looks a lot like older sister Joan, of Dynasty fame. Although Joan has written two novels (”I do think she is a terrific actress,” Jackie says diplomatically, of sis’ books), the younger Collins has no desire to cross into acting. Lunching at the Polo Lounge, where old Hollywood (Tony Curtis) mingles with new (Belinda Carlisle), Collins, wealthy from the 170 million copies of her books in print, recalls how, 30 years ago, she was more rags than riches. ”I ran around town as this wild, barefoot child. All my friends parked cars, pumped gas, and waited tables. It was such an exciting time.”
The times of late have not always been pleasant. Her husband of 25 years, impresario-businessman Oscar Lerman, died in March at age 69 after a five-year battle with cancer. ”It was like this executioner’s sword hanging over both our heads,” Collins says. ”I know he’s happier now. And I feel like I’m out of this dark tunnel.”
And now she is racing ahead, writing two new books (American Boss and Hollywood Kids), a teleplay of her novel Hollywood Husbands, a screenplay for an erotic psychological thriller, and a pilot for a TV soap set in a Hollywood high rise (”I had the idea before Melrose Place,” she sniffs, ”but we were stuck in development hell”). ”I’m a workaholic,” she admits sheepishly. And she writes it all in longhand, with no computer — a device that ranks on her wish list somewhere down near the coffee maker.