Pop Rocks: The Celebrity DUI Conundrum
I've always preferred brunettes. Aside from making me not a gentleman, this simply meant I favored Jaclyn Smith over Farrah Fawcett, Lynda Carter (or JoAnna Cameron) over Deidre Hall, Yasmine Bleeth over Gena Lee Nolin, and Jane Seymour over, well...just about any of the other Bond Girls.
Given that, it shouldn't be surprising that the only woman on Three's Company that did it for me was Joyce DeWitt. Sure, Suzanne Somers (and Priscilla Barnes, and Jenilee Harrison) spent 90% of the show in a bikini, but something about Janet's (relatively) sensible denim short shorts and Klute haircut appealed to my inner Donald Sutherland, for reasons I'm still only beginning to comprehend..
So I found DeWitt's recent pleading of no contest to misdemeanor DUI particularly disappointing. Admittedly, I haven't been paying much attention to her post-1984 career, and her mugshot only accentuates the lingering differences between her and Somers (DeWitt looks like a drunk 60-year old, Somers looks like the plastic surgery offspring of Courtney Love and Pam Anderson).
And the less said about Yasmine Bleeth, the better.
But DeWitt's drunk driving arrest is just the latest (or almost latest) in a series of celebrity inebriated motoring arrests. I can't really call them "scandals" because...nobody cares. Seriously, the sheer tonnage of Hollywood DUIs (referred to as "DWIs" here in Texas, in case you were confused) is like any other atrocity: the more you're exposed to it, the less you care.
What I still don't get, however, is why they keep happening.
Now, it's pretty apparent that getting busted for drunk driving is only a hindrance to people like you and me. Actors, athletes, and politicians can bounce back with little or no negative repercussions from their boozy vehicular forays. Obviously a big part of why everybody from the A-list on down doesn't worry a lot about getting nailed is because they assume they'll remain marketable. Shia LaBeouf (arrested in 2008) starred in the biggest grossing movie of 2009 (and one of the top grossers of all time), while Michelle Rodriguez and Keifer Sutherland have maintained fairly lucrative careers following their own busts.
Now for some of these folks, I blame lack of funds sufficient to hire a personal driver. Granted, LaBeouf can't really use this excuse, but Puck from The Real World? Jani Lane? Tawny Kitaen? They're lucky to even own cars.
So it would appear there's a significant link between a star's particular career trajectory and their access to a limo service. Then again, one might assume a celebrity's Q rating would figure prominently into their likelihood of arrest in the first place. Do you think Lethal Weapon 2 vintage Mel Gibson -- or Melrose Place era Heather Locklear, for that matter -- would've been cited if they were pulled over after a half dozen Bartles & James? Not bloody likely.
Indeed, when we look at recent arrests of this nature, the list looks like a "Where Are They Now" slideshow: DeWitt, Lane, and Kitaen are joined by Gary Collins, Haley Joel Osment, Nick Nolte, and Mischa Barton. All of whom were at one point perched on the fabled catbird's seat, but have lately fallen on hard times. If history serves, we can probably kiss these folks days in the public eye goodbye. Though there are always exceptions to this rule (see Keanu Reeves (1993)).
Still, even the D-est of the D-listers in this category (hi, Andy Dick) should still have enough money to stock up on vodka, Red Bull, and prescription Percocet to stay in their own damn house. But there's the quandary: quietly downing a 1.75 of Absolut in the privacy of your mansion doesn't get your name on TMZ, and sensibly taking a cab or a limo home from the Viper Room won't earn you much needed publicity, or that conciliatory spot on Oprah after your dutiful and totally sincere stint in rehab.
What we're left with at the end of the day is the only rational explanation; celebrities, like they've been telling us (and we've secretly suspected) all along, are just better than us. The sooner we accept this, the sooner I can stop obsessively lurking on mughsots.com.
As for Joyce, she'll be lucky to be invited back to the 30th reunion of Airplane II.