Death and Celebrity 'Doctor Shopping'

Tuesday, 29 Dec 2009 03:45 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Celebrity ‘Doctor Shopping’ Widespread
2. Tom Cruise Sued over Alleged Spying
3. ‘It's Complicated’ Generates Pot-Scented Ratings Battle
4. Fidelity Not Essential for Angelina Jolie
5. Songwriter's Career Soars 'Up in the Air'
 

1. Celebrity ‘Doctor Shopping’ Widespread

Following the death of actress Brittany Murphy, reports surfaced that several prescription drugs were found in her home.

Consequently, the unpleasant subject of celebrity doctor shopping has once again been highlighted.

Anna Nicole Smith, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson and Murphy were able to obtain a multitude of dangerous prescription drugs, revealing an apparent failure and inconsistency in the law.

Smith died of an apparent drug overdose in a Florida hotel room. Both Ledger and Jackson had numerous prescription drugs in their names at the times of their deaths.

According to the Los Angeles Coroner, several prescription drugs taken from Murphy’s apartment were made out to her. TMZ obtained notes from the coroner's office indicating that as many as nine prescription drugs, which are dangerous if incorrectly combined, were discovered in Murphy's home. These included anxiety drugs Klonopin and Ativan as well as pain relievers hydrocodone and Vicoprofen.

The practices of doctor and pharmacy shopping are only scrutinized at the state level. Thirty-three states use a computer based Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to collect prescription data from doctors and pharmacists. However, there is no national policy to deal with the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.

This glitch in the drug enforcement realm has resulted in a two-tiered legal framework, which seems to exempt those who can afford to obtain a “fix” from a physician instead of a pusher.


2. Tom Cruise Sued over Alleged Spying

Tom Cruise has been sued in a Los Angeles Superior Court.

The lawsuit claims that he hired convicted private investigator Anthony Pellicano to spy on magazine editor Michael David Sapir.

Sapir filed the legal complaint naming as defendants Cruise, his attorney Bert Fields, Matchtinger LLP and Anthony Pellicano.

The lawsuit appears to be part of a legal duel between the parties.

Sapir edits Bold, a periodical that in 2001 published a $500,000 reward for any video evidence that Cruise is gay.

Sapir claims that the magazine received a video and issued a press release to that end.

Cruise has consistently denied being gay. The actor’s attorney, Fields, filed a lawsuit against Sapir's magazine for defamation, seeking $100 million in damages.

Sapir alleges that during the defamation litigation, Cruise hired Pellicano to wiretap his phone.

The magazine editor is asking for $5 million.


3.  ‘It's Complicated’ Generates Pot-Scented Ratings Battle

The makers of the comedic movie, “It’s Complicated,” aren’t happy that the film was given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The more family-friendly a movie is, the better it does at the box-office. It’s what I call Hollywood's “clean little secret.”

The difference between a PG-13 and an R rating can be tens of millions of dollars.

In the case of “It’s Complicated,” the R rating was given, not because of sex or violence, but primarily because of scenes in which the Steve Martin and Meryl Streep's characters are smoking pot.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws appealed the R rating seeking a PG-13, but the group lost.

An example cited by critics of the R rating is the 1980 film “9 to 5,” which depicted Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s characters indulging in the same substance and raiding the refrigerator. That film received a PG rating.

But that was then, this is now.

Even though medical marijuana distribution centers line many a street in L.A., the ratings board saw scenes that made indulging in an illegal drug look inviting and acted to protect kids, which happens to be its job description.

If filmmakers really want to get that coveted PG rating, there’s a simple way, and it doesn't involve lawyers or appeals.

All they have to do is snip.


4. Fidelity Not Essential for Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie has cohabited with Brad Pitt for the past four years.

The Hollywood power couple lives together as a family along with six children.

Angelina has let the cat out of the bag about what she thinks of the idea of commitment.

“I doubt that fidelity is absolutely essential for a relationship,” the actress told Germany's Das Neue Blatt magazine. “It's worse to leave your partner and talk badly about him afterwards.”

We probably could have guessed that was her philosophy since her relationship with Pitt began while he was still married to Jennifer Aniston.

Thankfully, she's not sporting a vial of Pitt's blood around her neck like she did when she was with Billy Bob Thornton, although it would probably be considered trendy with today’s obsessive vampire theme.

“Neither Brad nor I have ever claimed that living together means to be chained together,” Jolie noted. “We make sure that we never restrict each other.”

Bet if she tried, Angelina could come up with six good reasons to be faithful.


5. Songwriter's Career Soars 'Up in the Air'

Kevin Renick’s story sounds like it’s from a screenwriter’s imagination.

But the singer-songwriter’s story is for real, and as it would turn out, for reel.

Like so many folks around the country, the St. Louis artist found himself without a job when the marketing firm he worked for was downsized.

But music won’t be denied and Kevin channeled his job stress into a song.

There was a catharsis in the sad cadence of his tune.

Who could have known that a whole new world of opportunity was about to open up for him?

The title of Kevin’s song? “Up in the Air.”

Kevin got word that director Jason Reitman was shooting a movie in St. Louis. Coincidentally, the film bore the same title as Kevin’s composition.

He recorded the tune on a 30-year-old cassette deck and placed the audiotape in an envelope. When it was publicized that Reitman would appear at a local college, the songwriter was ready on the spot, cassette tape in hand. At the opportune time, he passed it to the director.

“I felt the envelope and I said, 'is this a cassette tape?” the director told CBS News. “And he [Kevin] said ‘yeah’ and I said, ‘I don't even know where to listen to this.’ I had to find a car with a cassette deck."

What are the chances that an established Hollywood filmmaker would take the time to listen to a tune recorded on a dated inaccessible analog device?

Six months went by before Kevin received the amazing email, which informed him that not only did Reitman love the song, the actual cassette recording the songwriter had first handed the director was part of the soundtrack for the film's credits.

“This isn't some kid with a guitar,” Reitman said. “This is a man.”

The anguish Kevin expressed in music is now part of one of the most acclaimed films of the year. “Up in the Air” has 6 Golden Globe nominations to its credit, including best picture and best director. And it’s a safe bet that Oscar nominations are on their way.

If there was an Oscar for best luck, Kevin would be a shoe-in.

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