The six phrases Hollywood hotshots should be fired for using
People in Hollywood talk funny. ”Green light” and ”turnaround” have nothing to do with traffic patterns. And a woman with a ”sweet back-end deal” isn’t necessarily going to get wolf whistles from drooling construction workers. The problem is, certain words and phrases here tend to suffer the same fate that certain actors do. If they start getting too popular, they can quickly suffer from overexposure. So, after pondering the zen-like riddles of entertainment-speak — Why can people be ”above the line” or ”below the line,” yet never on the line itself? — I’ve cobbled together a lexicon of the hardest working, most overused lingo in show business. Here’s to stomping them out once and for all.
1. ”I’d watch him/ her read…” The highest form of flattery, this little gem is often used by up and coming actors to describe their more senior (and often Oscar winning) costars, as in ”Mr. Pacino’s amazing. I mean, I’d watch him read the telephone book.” (Incidentally, ”I’d watch him read the dictionary” is also acceptable.)
2. Genius! Now, when I was a kid, the word ”genius” usually referred to someone really smart. An Albert Einstein or a Stevie Plotkin (he was in all the gifted programs in my junior high). These days, genius has gotten mixed up in a whole new equation. It’s used indiscriminately (i.e., ”Martin Short’s a genius!”). It’s also used incorrectly, as an adjective. Have lunch at an industry hot spot like the Grill or the Ivy and you’re bound to hear someone say, ”God, that script was genius.” Even worse, the word’s often modified by ”so” or ”totally” for effect, as in, ”That guy Richard on ‘Survivor’ is so genius!” or ”Did you see ‘Scary Movie’? Totally genius.” Finally, the word can also be used alone, in its most annoying form. For example:
Q: ”Hey, what’d you think of ‘Big Brother’ last night?”
3. The F-word We are suddenly living in PG-13 rated times, at least if our new use of the F-word is any indication. That doesn’t mean the real F-word has left showbiz circles completely, but the cleaned-up version — just plain ”F” — is getting more play than ever. You may have heard the expression ”F Jackie” on the Howard Stern Radio Show. That’s akin to other overused phrases like, ”F the MPAA,” ”It was F’n awesome” or the gracious, ”Sorry, I F’d up.”
4. Hottie This word makes the list simply because nobody over 13 should be caught dead using it. Hottie is just another way to say sexy — ”hot,” if you will — and it tends to apply to young actors, singers, and models. Oddly, it’s used more often to describe men than women. ”Seth Green’s cute,” a studio D girl might say, ”but Matt Damon — he’s a real hottie.”
5. ”At the end of the day?.” Favored by studio chiefs and the wannabes below them, this oft-used cliché, helpful in making someone sound wiser than they are, almost always deals with matters of money and/ or success: ”So at the end of the day, our investment in ‘Titanic’ really paid off.” Or ”At the end of the day, it’s only a movie.”
6. ”I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” In Hollywood, whoever controls the most secrets tends to have the most power, which is why this cryptic little phrase comes in handy. Ask George Lucas the plot of the next ”Star Wars” and you’re likely to get an ”I’d tell you, but…” Ditto J.K. Rowling. ”I’d tell you who’s been cast in the next Harry Potter movie,” she might say, ”but then…” Yes, we know, we know. But we’re not worried. Because at the end of the day, the movie undoubtedly will be F’n genius.