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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-07-01
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse

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Kenzie Cross never thought she'd vault to insta-fame on the hit TV action dramaSpywitness Girls.A virtual unknown, she's the show's breakout star -- and the lead in a major new movie. It's like it's Christmas and her birthday every day, and Kenzie has every reason to let loose and party hard, especially after nonstop press interviews, photo shoots, publicity, and promotion.But when her partying goes a little too far, Kenzie is given an ultimatum by her director: Go to rehab, or get cut from the film. Kenzie agrees to the stint and really kind of enjoys her posh quarters, not to mention her daily swim, her horseback-riding lessons, and her private massages, which are all part of her "therapy." But then it finally hits her why she's really there, and she begins to wonder if she's even ready to leave....



"...And Introducing Kenzie Cross as Morgan Spacey"

"And...action!We're rolling, people!"

On the director's command, the chalk clapboard clicked and Kenzie Cross slipped into her TV character, undercover spy Morgan Spacey.

"Thanks for getting here so quickly, Jack," Kenzie purred, patting the cushion of the luxe Armani Casa sofa.

"You said it was urgent. What's the emergency?" Jason Victor, the actor playing Jack, delivered his lines coolly, while his eyes roamed over Kenzie's curvy body, encased in a short, ultratight dress.

"There's something we need to do,in private."Kenzie was supposed to deliver that line suggestively, cross her legs seductively, signal her intentions, just as she had during the first two takes of that scene.

This time, Kenzie couldn't do it.

The scene made her skin crawl. It was so sleazy, and not at all in keeping with her clever, canny character, Morgan.

Without warning, Kenzie veered off-script.

"We need to talk, Jack," she said instead, drawing herself up, facing him straight on. "Some new information has come to light."

"This is really surprising," the actor responded, trying to hide his confusion. "This is the first time we've been alone in your apartment. You said you weren't ready for..." He trailed off with a wink and a sly smile. Practically foaming at the mouth.

"Cut!" The director's voice boomed. Noel Riggs, whose instincts Kenzie usually respected, was obviously unhappy with her ad lib.

"Sorry," Kenzie said, ready to redo the scene as written.

"No need to apologize, Kenzie! You're genius -- it's better your way."

Kenzie started to relax, when he dropped the B-bomb: "But..."

"What?" she asked warily.

"You're sweating, nervous, uncomfortable. I'm not diggin' it."

Her character, Morgan,shouldbe uncomfortable, Kenzie believed. In this episode the supposedly savvy spy had fallen for this Jack character, only to uncover evidence proving him to be a fraud -- and a killer. She was setting up a seduction scene as a trap. Sheshouldbe nervous.

Not that Kenzie would ever say that to the director. Rule number one for a newcomer in her first role: Never, ever, disagree with the director.

Have your agent do it for you later.

Kenzie Cross had turned out to be a quick study in all things showbiz. She'd arrived in Hollywood only a year ago andSpywitness Girlswas her first professional credit; Morgan Spacey, her first role. Ever!

Against all odds, both the show and Kenzie herself had become breakout hits. Back in September, when it debuted,Spywitness Girlsgot slammed with harsh, negative reviews. Critics dismissed it as nothing more than retread of the oldCharlie's Angelsseries. Ratings were poor; pundits placed it on the "about-to-be-canceled" list.

A funny thing happened on the way to oblivion, though.

Internet-savvy fans found the show, blogged about it, and started a viral campaign to support it. Fast-forward eight months to May, and twenty-two episodes later.Spywitness Girlslifted, phoenix-like, from the buzz-challenged basement to become bigger than those (super)Heroes,found by viewers more times thanLost,was chatted about more thanGossip Girl.

Of the three glamorous stars, one got singled out as the fan favorite.

Kenzie Cross.

Least experienced, last one cast, petite as an Olsen twin with Fergie-licious curves, the nineteen-year-old newcomer was the people's choice, the hottest starlet guys would most like to date, and girls would most like to hang out with.

Kenzie was surprised only in that it'd happened so quickly. She'd always been popular, a true charisma girl, but that was back home in her Seattle suburb. She thought it'd take way longer to shine in the diamond-dappled pool of Hollywood talent. She was, to say the least, unprepared for what followed.

Fan frenzy led to media madness. Magazines, online columns, and TV entertainment shows wanted her; designers fell all over themselves for the honor of dressing her. All the hot clubs cleared the best tables; offers of big money came at her so quickly, Kenzie felt like the head-spinning girl inThe Exorcist.Except without the spewing.

She'd also snared the hottest boyfriend in town, underwear model Cole Rafferty. (Swoon, swoon.) They'd met at a club a couple of weeks ago. Their connection was instant, deep in a totally superficial way...but still.

Speaking of, thinking of, led her thoughts back to last night. Cole had been a wild man at the new hot spot -- Leopoles -- dancing, drinking, vibing with her and her friends. And so caring and attentive when she accidentally fell off the stripper pole. It wasn't her fault -- it was the damn shoes. The Pradas with those to-die-for heels nearly became the death of her, or at least of her ankle. Which twisted and turned in ways that most joints, especially those needed to hold you upright, should not.

Cole had slipped her a couple painkillers, which she'd downed on the spot. As insurance, she'd popped a few more for breakfast this morning. But by now -- Kenzie had been working under the hot lights for hours -- they'd worn off. Another reason, though Kenzie would never tell her director, she looked uncomfortable doing the scene.

Director Noel was now signaling they were ready to go. The actors began again, only to get through their first lines before hearing him shout, "Cut!"

Through the camera lens, Noel had noticed beads of sweat across Kenzie's forehead. The director was not "diggin' it." He snapped his fingers, and summoned what Kenzie liked to call the "Beauty Squad." A phalanx of assistants, bearing soft towels, lip gloss and powder, curling iron and electric warming booties, materialized. Bypassing the actor playing Jack, they were all there to cater to Kenzie. A star's gotta rock the camera, andthat'sa no-sweat zone.

Just then, Chelsea Piers, Kenzie's best friend and personal assistant, rushed onto the set. "Hey, Kenz," she whispered, "does your ankle hurt? Do you need another Vicodin for the pain?"

Oh, man, she was soooo tempted, she could feel herself twitching. Kenzie knew she shouldn't. How many times had she been warned about getting addicted? And yet. She was tired and in pain. She hated the dress, could barely tolerate the actor playing Jack, whose aftershave was to-gag-fororfrom. Whatever, it made her nauseous.

Nailing this particular scene, much as she abhorred it, was crucial. It was the episode ender; the last show of the season, expected to go through the ratings roof. It was huge.

The director had bowed to her way of playing it. She ought to just get it wrapped.

Kenzie quickly swallowed the oblong pill.

Good thing, too, she'd think later. Without the mellow painkiller, she might've spit at "Jack" -- on camera. During the break, he'd apparently decided that if Kenzie could ad lib, so could he.

Just as she said the line, "Some new information has come to light," he "spontaneously" pulled her to him, stuck his tongue in her mouth, and cupped her breast -- all in one fluid, revolting move.

Not even Cole got away with that unless invited.

And yet, Noel let it go, allowing the scene to play out until the other Spywitness Girls came crashing into the scene, guns blazing, to arrest the unsuspecting pervo-perp.

By that time, the word "Cut!" had never sounded so sweet to Kenzie's ears.

She wiped her mouth off, while the erstwhile "Jack" shot her a self-satisfied, slimy grin. "Surprised ya, huh?"

"Understatement," she groused.

"Aw, come on, Kenzie, look how angry you got. It made the scene work."

Kenzie made herself a promise: If she ever did get more clout on the show, this tool would not be guest-starring on it anytime soon. As in, ever.

Clueless, he gave her that thumb-up, pinky-down signal for "Call me." That's the new "Let's do lunch." It's just as insincere.

The set was packed. Everyone even vaguely connected withSpywitness Girlswas on hand to bask in the show's success, now that they'd wrapped the final episode for the season. Producers, network suits, studio bigwigs, casting directors, publicists, everyone's agents, managers, spouses, and significant others swarmed the set. It wasEntouragetimes a thousand.

Champagne corks popped, and back patting, hugging, shoulder rubs, and air kisses spread like a virus.

Kenzie wished she could slip out the back door, head to her trailer. She was into celebrating as much as the next girl, but not with this bunch of glad-handers. She was looking forward to the weekend, when there'd be a huge wrap party at an exclusive private club. All her friends would be there; she'd be with Cole.Thatwould rock!

But pulling a disappearing act now wasn't gonna happen. There were too many people waiting to see her, specifically the showbiz professionals called Team Kenzie, or her "handlers."

First was tall, tan, regal Alex Grant, super-agent. It was his responsibility to get Kenzie acting roles. The bigger, the better. Alex earned 15 percent of Kenzie's income.

Rudy Marpole, rotund, cherub-cheeked, and often verklempt, was her manager. His job was to oversee her entire career, and guide her appropriately. Rudy's cut of the Kenzie pie was 10 percent.

Rounding out the trio was publicist Milo Prince, a chic she, even though Milo is a trendy name for boys. Her job was to make Kenzie into a household name -- in the most positive way a starlet can be known. Milo earned a hefty monthly fee for her services.

Alex was first to congratulate her. "Kenzie! You were amazing. This is why they call you the 'franchise.' Without you, this show doesn't exist."

"A bald-faced lie, but thank you, Alex." Kenzie stood on the tiptoes of her high heels to give her agent a peck on the cheek.

Rudy, a head shorter than Alex, had real tears in his eyes, and was choked with emotion as he wrapped her in a bear hug. "Sweetie pie, you're the icing on the cake with the cherry on top. That's all I can say, Kenzie. You...you made that last scene sing."

"Sing? Like anAmerican Idolreject maybe," Kenzie quipped. Rudy, unlike Alex, actually believed what he said. Kenzie wasn't sure which she preferred: the slick liar or the earnest doofus. They were both true Hollywood types.

Alex, with a furtive glance around the room, bent to whisper in Kenzie's ear. "I'm hearing good things about your movie audition."

The Chrome Hearts Club.That's what it was called, the ginormous feature film Kenzie had unexpectedly gotten an audition for. Unexpected, because the film was "serious," and she wasn't even on the short list of big-name actresses who might win the starring role. She had Alex to thank for even getting her the audition. But to think she'd win the role was absurd. She was about to give Alex a reality check when a balding, bespectacled TV producer inserted himself between client and agent. A producer whose name Kenzie could not for the life of her recall regaled her with over-the-top compliments.

"I laughed, I cried, OMG, Kenzie, you're the best. So natural!" In his wake, other VIPs followed, variations on the same worshipful theme ensued. Kenzie needed to slip into the role of grateful, modest ingenue.

Kenzie wasn't disingenuous -- she truly loved being complimented -- but these people acted like she'd won a Nobel Prize based on one lousy scene. It would take a better actress than her to believably bask in the glow of bullshit.

When publicist Milo pulled her away from the adoring masses, Kenzie was sincerely thankful.

"Some others have been waiting to see you," Milo said, pointing toward a gaggle of young fans, herded behind a rope at the back of the soundstage. They were tween girls mostly, armed with cameras, and photos to autograph.

"What did they win?" Kenzie asked as they made their way over.

"An essay contest. It's a 'green' thing. They had to come up with original ideas for saving the planet. The top ten won a meet and greet with you.Peoplemagazine is covering it."

What tied Kenzie Cross to environmental health was a head-scratcher, but anytime she got to meet the real fans who'd made her a star, she was genuinely psyched.

It wasn't so long ago, shewasthem. Worshipping celebrities, wanting to know all about their glamorous lives, dreaming of one day transforming from a regular, ordinary person to a pedestal-perching, sparkling star. To be the adored, instead of the adoring. That'd been her, circa all her life.

"Hi, everyone -- it's so great to meet you!" Kenzie exclaimed, walking from one to the next, shaking hands, getting cheek to cheek with them for their cameras. Kenzie asked questions about recycling, plastic bags, penguins, and hybrids, but basically, all they wanted was to commemorate the moment they'd met a real star. The photographer fromPeoplesnapped away.

When it was over, Kenzie started for her dressing room -- then did an impulsive U-turn. Something was bothering her. She couldn't recall what Noel, the director, had said about her performance.

The self-assured starlet kinda wanted his validation.

She found Noel peering into the camera, most likely replaying that last scene. When she tapped him on the shoulder, he whirled around. And smiled.

"You really nailed it for us, Kenzie. We're a lock for next season."

That's it then. All the experts have spoken. If they thought she rocked it -- without even liking it, let alone believing it -- she must have. She let out the sigh of relief she didn't know she'd been holding in.

Copyright © 2008 by Randi Reisfeld

Excerpted from Rehab by Randi Reisfeld
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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