When everyone was writing about that trainwreck Charlie Sheen – I got burned out on all the stories about celebrities and drug use. Yet tonight, I think it’s the perfect time to write about it.
On Friday, Lindsay Lohan checked into rehab. Sort of.
Mac Daddy, a 34-year-old rapper from the group Kriss Kross died of an overdose a few days ago.
Robert Downey Jr. is starring in a movie that’s going to make $50 million this weekend, and he was arguably worse than all those celebrities previously mentioned.
Now, I didn’t want to go through all the things Lohan has done because…well, that would be way too long. Plus, most are still familiar with those stories. What a lot of people forget, or were too young to remember, is that Robert Downey Jr. was just as bad as Lohan. Let’s revisit his rap sheet.
Starting in 1996, he was arrested for drugs that include cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. He had said in an interview he started doing drugs at the age of 8, because his dad was doing them (Robert Downey Sr. was an actor, director, screenwriter) .
In 1996, he was arrested for having heroin, coke, and a .357 Magnum while speeding down the Sunset Strip. While on parole a few months later, he broke into a neighbor’s home while stoned out of his mind, and crawled into one of the beds and went to sleep.
This got him a 3-year probation and required drug testing. The following year, he missed a court-ordered drug test and had to spend four months in jail.
He missed another drug test a few years later and was arrested and was sentenced to a 3-year prison term. He spent a year in the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, before being unexpectedly freed. Many people were outraged, just as they are when Lohan seems to get a slap on the wrist for her various infractions.
A week after his release, Downey joined the cast of Ally McBeal, where he got an Emmy nomination, and won a Golden Globe. Nobody ever disputed his talents. He had previously been nominated for an Oscar for playing Charlie Chaplin (and got another nomination for his funny role in Tropic Thunder).
In the beginning of 2001, Downey was supposed to be in Hamlet in a stage production in L.A. It was going to be directed by Mel Gibson (they worked together years earlier in Air America); but he was arrested at the Merv Griffin Hotel and Spa in Palm Springs. The cops were responded to an anonymous 911 call. He was under the influence and had cocaine and valium on him.
While on parole the following year, a cop found him walking around barefoot in Culver City. He was arrested for being under the influence of drugs, and had coke in his system.
Even though Ally McBeal was getting their best ratings with Downey, they let him go. Mel Gibson had to shut down his planned production of Hamlet, and he pleaded no contest. Everyone was surprised when he didn’t get jail time, but another stint in rehab.
Downey appeared on Oprah in 2004. It seemed hard to believe he would stay sober, despite being very honest about his addiction and desire to stay clean. Studios wouldn’t hire him, as he was a liability. Strangely enough, it was Mel Gibson that paid Downey’s insurance bond for the movie The Singing Detective (which wasn’t half bad). Producer Joel Silver followed suit, casting him in Gothika, but also holding 40% of his salary until production wrapped. These types of clauses were how it worked for Downey during this comeback period. Woody Allen had wanted to cast him in a film, but couldn’t get insurance on him.
Christian Slater, who last appeared in Sylvester Stallone’s movie Bullet to the Head, had a similar arrest record. I remember him once fighting a neighbor, and biting him in the stomach, before the cops showed up (side note: Stallone got popped for drugs, but those were steroids he was trying to bring in from another country a few years ago).
Keifer Sutherland has gotten his act together, doing the very successful series 24. He had a number of arrests and fights, which always involved him being drunk.
Andy Dick has had just as many arrests as Lohan and Downey, and he just had a successful run on Dancing with the Stars (he was voted off a few days ago). And if you read Kathy Griffin’s book…you’ll be blown away by the stuff he’s done that he hasn’t been arrested for.
Friday morning Lohan was supposed to check into Morningside Recovery in Newport Beach. It was going to be a long stint there. The day before, she was buying outfits and telling paparazzi that she had an outfit for each day. Well, she drove there, but quickly took off. She ended up at Fry’s. Rumors have swirled that she was mad she wouldn’t be allowed to smoke in that facility or use a cell phone. Later that day, she hired a lawyer she had previously fired. That attorney got her into the BettyFordCenter, which is odd, considering the last time she was there (2010) she got into a physical altercation with a staff member. Also the fact that the court ordered her to a specific facility for specific reasons.
The sad thing in all this is that these people have talent. Just watch Lohan in Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, or The Parent Trap. Yet I wonder why judges don’t start throwing the book at these celebrities. It seems like it’s going to take one of them driving under the influence and killing innocent people, before they stop sending the stars to country club type of rehab facilities that do little good.
And perhaps parents that are so eager to get their kids a career in entertainment, should take a page from Peter Ostrum. Does that name ring a bell? Well, had the kid overdosed and died it would. He played Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory back in 1971. He was in 6th grade when he landed the part. After the five month shoot in Germany, he was offered a 3-film contract for over a million dollars (always a lot of money for a kid, but even more when you realize it was the early ‘70s). He turned it down and stayed in school.
After getting into drama his senior year of high school, he started enjoying it again. A few auditions on Broadway didn’t land anything, and he flew to Hollywood to check things out. Since his family had always owned a horse, and he was fascinated by the work the veterinarian did, he decided to pursue that. He got a degree in veterinarian medicine from Cornell, and has worked in that field ever since. He has a wife, two kids, and no arrests.
Let’s hope Ty Simpkins, the boy in Iron Man 3 that’s Tony Stark’s sidekick, can go down the path Ostrum went and not his co-star.