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This chapter contains some coarse language
Moving to Texas again was a lot more than I expected. For one thing, when Bruce and I arrived at the baggage claim, there were a lot of photographers taking our picture, and fans wanting Bruce’s autograph. I was looking away from the cameras, not out of sudden shyness, but because I couldn’t handle the glares of all those flashlights. There were enough to make me go blind.
Amongst the crowds, we saw a tall man with dark brown hair and sunglasses. He was dressed in a really slick outfit – a purple turtleneck with a brown double-breasted jacket and matching slacks. He was holding a printed sign with both our names in one hand.
I tapped Bruce’s shoulder, pointed at the man and asked, “Who is that?”
He looked at him and answered, “Oh, that’s Mark Helsinki, the family agent and manager. Remember I told you about him?”
“Oh, yeah, right,” I answered nervously. “Right, when you were telling me about yourself after we reunited.” I was excited to meet him, yet I was quite nervous at the same time. This Mark Helsinki sounded like he was the Superman of movie agents, if he’s working with an entire family. Bruce waved at him, then took me over to him. He dropped his sign and, as Bruce was introducing us, I noticed a briefcase in his right hand.
“Mark, what’s up with you?” Bruce asked, shaking his hand. “I haven’t seen you at all while I was filming Love and Risk. I thought maybe you’d fly up to Calgary to see me at one point.”
“Sorry, Bruce,” Mark said, “but I’ve been very busy with your brothers all this time. Peter and Steve now have movie and television roles, and advertising endorsement deals all through 2000. So I don’t think you’ll be seeing much of them for a little while. Remember all those other projects I’ve got lined up for you?”
Then he turned to me. “And you must be the new girl everyone is talking about, Hollie Springwood.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “I’m still a stranger in show business. How can everyone be talking about me?”
“It's all over the gossip papers these days, sweetheart,” Mark answered. “While the two of you are playing the leads in Love and Risk, you start an actual romantic relationship. Soon, everyone is asking each other, ‘Who is this Hollie Springwood that Bruce McClung is so much in love with?’ Well, I have the answer for all of them – an up-and-coming movie star, and one part of Hollywood’s next royal couple.”
I was surprised and happy to hear that. “You really think so?”
“I do,” he answered. “There’s only one thing I don’t understand of you. You walk onto a set of a big romantic crime drama, win the lead role, and you don’t have an agent?”
“Hey, it happened at the spur of the moment,” Bruce said as he retrieved our luggage. “Our original star dropped out just days before we were supposed to start. Tom Linder was getting desperate. Hollie actually saved us from going off schedule.”
Mark looked at me again. “Well, it’s obvious why Tom Linder would pick you over anyone else. Did anyone ever tell you that you look like a cross between Demi Moore and Celine Dion?”
I swear I could’ve felt my cheeks glowing. “You’re kidding me! Those are my all-time favourite entertainers!”
Bruce pointed at the briefcase. “Don’t tell me, that’s my next project in there, right?”
“Yep,” Mark answered. “It’s a comedy-drama called Country Love Songs.”
Bruce and I picked up the last of our luggage and brought it out to a limousine parked outside. As the chauffer was loading everything into the trunk, Mark said to me, “All right, Hollie, first thing’s first. I believe this relationship with you and Bruce is going to go far, this will earn a lot of positive publicity, and you shall be welcomed into the McClung family. Seeing this, I’m willing to work with you as your agent. Now, I can’t promise that you’ll be doing everything that Bruce does, but in the event that you can’t work with him or his brothers, I’ll see to it that you get roles that both you and I feel comfortable with. Do we have a deal?”
I extended my arm and shook Mark’s hand. “It’s a deal, Mark,” I said.
He smiled back. “Welcome to show business, Hollie.”
In the limousine, Mark opened his briefcase and handed Bruce and me scripts for the movie. He explained the plot to us. Country Love Songs was about a handsome male model named Robin Kincaid, who has a deep passion of making it as a country singer-songwriter. His lover, Claire Penney, will do anything to be his manager, just so she could stay close to him. The only problem is that Robin is so handsome and irresistible, Claire soon finds herself dealing with a lot of competition – namely girls in her own age bracket. Bruce would be given the role of Robin, and I would be playing Claire.
“I’m so happy that you signed on to play Robin in Country Love Songs, Bruce,” Mark said. “The producers had wanted you for the role, since they heard you singing in that square-dancing scene in Rough n’ Tough Romeos around last Valentine’s Day. One of them, Ellen Windhoek, said you had an extremely sexy voice. They told me that you’d be perfect.” Then he turned to me. “As for you, Hollie, they’d been having trouble finding a girl to play Claire. Then, they learn about you and Bruce…”
“And they want to know what I’m all about,” I finished.
“Exactly,” he replied.
“How much are they willing to pay us?”
“Bruce will get $15 million out of this project. He signed the deal just before he went to Calgary. You, Hollie, will be paid $10 million for your role.”
I looked at Mark, astounded. “You’re serious?! Ten million dollars?!” He nodded and I remarked, “Get on the phone with that movie company, and tell them I’ll take it.”
“Excellent,” he said. “Now, they’re going to start shooting the movie right here in Dallas, then you’ll be going to Nashville later on, so you guys won't have to worry about flying out anywhere right now. They plan to start work around the start of April, so that should give you enough time to look them over before we start.”
I spent the rest of the ride thinking about my earnings, while Bruce and Mark talked. I’d already earned $9.5 million for Love and Risk, now I’d also be getting $10 million for this project. And all because the movie people learned about me through public relations. I started fantasizing about what I’d do with the money. Maybe I’d buy a bigger house and a boat for my parents. Better still, I’d plan a Springwood family reunion, and fly the whole family to Hawaii, or perhaps the Caribbean for it. Yes, maybe the reunion would be best. That way, the whole family could meet Bruce at once.
Suddenly, the limo stopped, and I heard the driver say, “Your stop, Mr. McClung.” Bruce and I said goodbye to Mark, then we got out with Kelton, and unloaded the trunk ourselves, taking our luggage into his house.
Bruce’s house was located on Hillside Drive, in one of the most beautiful suburban neighbourhoods. It was a very nice house. It had four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining table in a country-style kitchen, and a complete recreation room in the basement. Of course, it wasn't exactly the Donald Trump mansion, but it was something I could live with.
He led me to his bedroom, which the two of us would be sharing. It looked exactly like a honeymoon suite. This bedroom had a king-sized waterbed, as well as a 35-inch screen television on the wall facing it. There was also a mirrored ceiling, a closet with turntables, and drawers that you could open and close with a remote control.
Bruce helped me unpack my things, and it took me a little over an hour to get settled. I was exhausted from the trip, so I fell backwards down on the bed. He asked what I wanted for dinner, and I shooed him away to the kitchen. "Surprise me," I answered.
I turned on my side to get comfortable, and noticed a phone on the night table next to the bed. I decided to call my parents. I had to let them know I arrived safely.
Bruce and I spent the next two months studying our movie scripts. I was fascinated by the plot and storyline. I honestly thought Robin and Claire were very believable as lovers. Whenever I read a scene where they were alone and sometimes intimate, I would look at Bruce lovingly, wanting to act out those scenes with him. In one scene, I actually did. I was halfway through, and after I finished reading the scene, I walked over to Bruce on the loveseat, sat on his legs in a straddling position, and dramatically recited my lines. Then, I made him fall upon the cushions and kissed him passionately.
It took a few weeks, but I finally got re-adjusted to life in the United States. Even after two whole years, it still felt like home. I enjoyed playing mother to Kelton, and I felt like Bruce's wife in every way possible. Most people would say that relationships don't usually work out if the couple starts living together before getting engaged. I don't believe that for a nanosecond. The way Bruce and I were going, we could prove them all wrong.
Over the last two weeks of March, I got two important pieces of mail. The first was from Mark Helsinki. In the envelope were two contracts. One certified his negotiations as my agent. It didn’t state very much. He proposed that he get only twenty-five percent of my earnings. The McClung family had a staff of accountants, lawyers, and business executives already earning a lot from them, so I wouldn’t be owing anything to anyone else. Also, he would give me some say in any film, television project, or endorsement if I was going to work without Bruce. If they wanted the both of us, then I had to go with him. Finally, the contract stated that the agreement would be broken if Bruce and I should break up and not get back together.
I laughed at that part. Of course we wouldn’t break up. We loved each other too much to do that. I imagine we’d still be together on our fiftieth wedding anniversary, and that our marriage would end with death, not divorce. I called for Bruce and showed him Mark’s manager contract.
“That’s wonderful,” he said as he handed it back to me. “You might start owing our accountants and lawyers and everyone else when we get married. You’ll have to ask Mark about that.” He went up to me and took both my hands. “And I definitely see marriage in our future.” He chuckled at me and we kissed. He then gave me a pen, and I found the line with my name under it, and signed.
The second contract was about my role in Country Love Songs. I read over the letter Mark sent. He said that I didn’t have to read it over, because we already discussed pay negotiations; that all I had to do was sign it. I skimmed through it anyway, decided the negotiations were fair and signed it. I put both documents in his self-addressed stamped envelope and sealed it.
The second envelope was from the movie company that produced Love and Risk. I was so excited, that I ripped it open immediately. I jumped all over the living room floor, screaming in ecstasy, when I discovered a cheque for the money I earned playing Stacey Ness. Bruce was just as overjoyed when he got his cheque. We started dancing in the living room, kissing each other, and telling each other, “I love you.”
Bruce and I smiled lovingly at each other. I’d been living in Dallas for only two months, and I already had my first acting paycheque and an agent. I could tell I was going to love this lifestyle.
We started work on the movie the first Monday in April, as planned. Bruce, Kelton and I went downtown to Jay Rock’s Gym after breakfast. The producers told us they would use the gymnasium for Bruce’s modelling scenes. There, we saw some trailers parked outside, and crew members trying to get cameras through the entrance.
Bruce and I stepped out of the car, then he got Kelton out and carried him inside. We were just a few feet from the entrance when we heard three feminine voices.
“Ohmigod!” they cried. “Bruce McClung and Hollie Springwood!”
We turned around to see who was calling us. I was staring at three familiar faces, all grinning. They looked like three young women that I knew some years ago, perhaps from college. I thought of the Hunter twins, Diamond and Diane, and one of their friends, Melanie McCall. Could it possibly be them?
I called out to them, “Diamond? Diane? Melanie?”
“Hollie!” cried two of them together. Those were definitely Diamond and Diane.
“Reunion!” declared the other woman. That was Melanie.
I ran to the girls as fast as humanly possible. The four of us engaged in a group hug. What an incredible reunion. We were talking endlessly once we let go, talking about what we’ve been doing since college.
“I make my home in Hollywood now, and I am a professional actress,” said Melanie. “This is my fifth major project. Previously, I've starred in the leads in four romance movies – Forget Maybeline, The Overprotective Matchmaker, Primadonna and Magnus Loves Karen. I don't suppose you girls remember any of those, do you?”
“I think I’ve seen Magnus Loves Karen,” I replied. “I’ve read about it, at least. That was about a Swedish strongman who falls for a Las Vegas model during some international strongman competition, right?”
“You got that right,” Melanie replied. “I won a Golden Globe for that performance, and for Primadonna.”
“I’ve never seen Primadonna,” I said, “but now that you’ve mentioned it, I want to.” We laughed for a little bit.
I turned to Diamond and Diane. “What about you girls? Where do you live? Nashville? Memphis?”
Both of them laughed, and Diamond answered, “No, Hollie. We live in Anaheim, California.”
I put on a confusing look. “But I thought you two wanted to be professional country singers.”
“We are,” Diane insisted. “In fact, our first album went diamond in world-wide sales, with four number one hits. We just released our second, and we’ve also had a few successful tours – here, in Europe, and in Asia and Australia. We just don't live in the Music City, that's all.”
“Plus, we also wanted to star in some movies, remember?” Diamond added. “This is our first real movie project.”
“All right,” I said. I decided to talk about our other friends. “What about Renee, Tamara-Dawn and Vicki? What are they doing now?”
“We don't hear from them anymore,” Diane answered. “Vicki’s had a couple of best-selling novels published, but that’s about all we know.”
I started to talk about what I’d been up to, but Melanie stopped me.
“Hollie, don't say anything,” she said, looking sympathetic. “We all know about your harsh break-up with Kyle. We’re so sorry for you, girl.”
“Yeah, but that's wasn’t all,” I said. “Right after I left Kyle, I moved back to Canada to live. There, I fell in love with a Canadian country singer named Rick Pringle. Just when things were going well, I find out he’s a grieving widower, obsessed with his dead wife's memory. That's why I left him – because he couldn't stop thinking of his damn wife, and I wanted no part of it. Later on, my cosmetology career fell through. When I learned about Love and Risk being filmed in Calgary, I decided to launch an acting career, maybe give that a try.” I put on a goofy-looking grin. “It sure worked out; this is my second movie.”
“Oh, yeah, we heard that you and Bruce starred together in Love and Risk,” Diamond said. “It’s been the top focus of Entertainment Tonight lately.”
I cleared my throat and asked them, “Did you know that Bruce and I fell deeply in love on that set? We just finished a couple of months ago, shortly before I moved here.” I put on a bragging tone. “I now live with him and his son.”
Melanie, Diamond and Diane screamed like a trio of crazy toddlers. “You lucky bitch!” Melanie cried.
I told the girls about the roles Bruce and I were playing in the movie. That got them talking about their roles. Melanie was playing a forceful woman named Kate Cook. Diamond was in the role of Jennifer Taney, a “scheming, backstabbing bitch,” as she told me. And Diane was playing another woman named Lynn Hume, whom she said, “would kick your ass in a New York minute.” I whistled and replied, “Talk about unfriendly competition!”
I checked my watch. It was twenty minutes to nine. Filming wouldn’t start until eleven. My friends and I all went to the hair and make-up trailer. The make-up artist worked with us one at a time, curling, primping and dyeing our hair. We stayed there until after ten. Melanie and I were giving Diamond and Diane some acting tips, as this was their first major project.
“Stay calm and avoid getting nervous at all times,” I told them.
“Try to remember your lines and cues always,” Melanie advised. “Also, concentrate on your acting at all times. Don’t let your minds wander while the cameras are on you.”
“Right, girls,” said Diamond.
“No problem,” Diane added.
When our hair and make-up were done, we got directions to the wardrobe trailer. There, the designer gave us our appropriate outfits. I got a long-sleeved orange dress shirt, a pair of tight-fitting blue jeans, and sunglasses with checkerboard frames. Melanie got a small purple halter top, a short jean skirt and high heels that exposed her toes, because her character was, “a slutty-looking hoochie.”
“This girl just wants Robin for his body,” she told her. “Therefore her clothes have to show this attitude.”
Diamond, Diane and I all laughed at Melanie. “Oh, God, I feel so sorry for you,” I told her. “You told me in college that you didn’t want to act like a whore in your movie career. It’s too bad you have to dress like one!” I laughed louder, and Diamond and Diane laughed along with me. I could tell Melanie was not amused.
“Laugh it up, girls,” she scoffed. “We’ll see who laughs last when my character wipes the floor with all your character’s asses.” We all gave cat calls at that.
“Ooh, somebody’s in character already,” Diamond commented as she got her clothes, a typical business suit with pumps. Diane got a long, flowy skirt, and a button-down shirt. We all changed our clothes, and were in the building before ten-thirty.
We went to the gymnasium where the modelling scene was to be filmed. We all saw Bruce and began to feel like passing out, like we were staring at some sexy James Dean-type rebel. He was wearing blue jeans, loafers, a white T-shirt, a black leather jacket and dark glasses. His hair was combed back and gelled. I didn’t hesitate, I just walked up to him and kissed him passionately until Vance Rivers, the director, tapped my shoulder.
“Excuse me, Hollie?” he said. “You’re going to have to stay off the set until we cue you, sweetheart.” I nodded, and whispered to Bruce in a sexy voice, “Look good for me, baby,” and left him.
Our first day of filming went rather well. We all played out our roles like the professionals we were. When Bruce was “modelling,” he acted as alluring and seductive as he possibly could. Of course, when he took off his jacket and shirt, the girls and I had to keep calm and quiet, so the cameras wouldn’t pick up our voices. I was also pretty good, because I acted as if I was really Claire – passionately in love with my irresistible-looking boyfriend. That was one of the things Mr. Rivers said to me.
“It's as if you could be Claire Penney, Hollie,” he said. “You look like you're really in love with Bruce.”
“I am in love with Bruce,” I replied. “I’m sharing his home.” Mr. Rivers smiled at me, looking convinced.
Diamond and Diane proved themselves to be good actresses, too; definitely not too shabby for their film debut. Our screen veteran, Melanie, was unstoppable. In the movie, Melanie was my worst competitor, and we got into each other's faces a lot.
There were also some scenes where the girls and I fought each other at the same time. We worked those scenes out well. We actually punched, slapped and attacked each other like wild animals, as several cameras were rolling and moving with us. I studied the script, and noted all the edits that were going to be made in this scene. The editors were going to be quite busy here. I even wondered how many were going to be needed.
Despite all the work I did in the movie and at home, I still found time to keep in touch with my family. Once a week, I took half an hour out to call my parents. Jesse had never forgiven me for moving back to Texas. When I spoke with him one time, he called me a “treacherous prostitute.” I thought that was rude, and I never bothered to talk to him when I called Mom and Dad.
We worked on the movie every day except for the holidays. On Memorial Day, I invited the girls over to the house. We were all sitting in the living room when Diamond asked, “Is your brother coming out here this summer?”
“I don’t think so, Diamond,” I replied. “Jesse and I haven’t been speaking lately. He thinks he has the right to call me a ‘prostitute’, just because I moved out here for a second time.”
“So, he hasn't changed his attitude towards Americans?”
I shook my head. “Jesse moved out of the house when I asked Bruce to come stay with me in Calgary. We’d just begun shooting Love and Risk, and Bruce couldn't afford to stay at a hotel. Jesse only came home at Thanksgiving.”
“It's that bad?” Diane asked.
“Oh, yeah,” I replied. “And he was so polite at Thanksgiving. You should have seen him, you guys. For a while there, I thought he was starting to change. I had my hopes up. But he left home again two days later, and he never even came home for Christmas.”
“Where was Jesse at Christmas?” Melanie asked.
“Vancouver, British Columbia,” I answered. “He spent Christmas with a friend he was living with, and his family.”
Diamond, Diane and Melanie were staring at me in disbelief. I took a deep breath to keep from crying, then continued, “The only time I saw him again was the day before I left, when we had a huge argument – so what else is new? Jesse then fell to his knees and begged me not to go. He told me to stay in Canada and date Canadian men, but I refused. He called me a ‘snowback,’ and it wasn't something he made up. ‘Snowback’ is Canadian slang for a native who becomes an American citizen.”
“Ooh,” said Diamond. “That must have been a slap in the face.”
“I never really thought about it, actually,” I said to her. “I stopped caring about Jesse when I flew back out here. I figured if he wasn't going to support my decisions, then he's not worth it.”
There was a death-like silence in the living room. If somebody were clicking away on a computer in the next room, you’d be able to hear it. We all just sat in our places, with our unhappy looks. I sighed a heavy sigh and thought only of Jesse. His anti-Americanism was really ruining the family this time.
After a while, I went over to where Diamond and Diane were sitting. I put my head on Diamond's shoulder. But I never cried. I was too depressed to cry. She put her arm around me.
“Don't worry, Hollie,” she said softly. “I’m sure your brother will change his hateful ways. He has to, if he knows what's good for him.”
“Oh, he might change, Diamond,” I replied. “I just hope he doesn't do anything drastic first.”